These are some resources that I made to flesh out the suggestions on the Power of Reading notes that go with The Village That Vanished.
Without wanting to give way to lazy hyperbole, this is a truly great book in every way. The illustrations are deeply-felt; the love of the illustrator (the artist Kadir Nelson) for the text shines out of every picture. They are also technically very beautiful.
Though the pictures do a great deal to convey the meaning of the text, it’s still one that presents a heavy load.
Firstly, I find the structure complicated (I wouldn’t ask children to re-tell this story – also because it’s too long). I’ve mapped the structure here, with a ‘classic’ story mountain to compare it with. There’s also an activity that you can do with a whole class using PowerPoint or an Interactive Whiteboard.
Also, the sentences, in terms of language and structure, are demanding. Here’s a summary, showing how they include more advanced types of punctuation (a colon, hyphens) as well. Now that (until it changes again…) fronted adverbials are the only kind that matter, I can say that if you’re looking for those, there are some very good examples, particularly of those starting with adjectives (can be hard to model using a good text) and those starting with ‘-ing’ verbs.
Having said that, you could just go through how good the language is in all its aspects (there are some examples of really complex sentences at the bottom of the sentence summary above). If you want to do that, I’ve saved you the trouble of typing them out in this document.
The Power of Reading notes suggest:
- writing a prayer, using Njemile’s as a model. Here’s an EAL-friendly starting point for that.
- having a debate about whether or not to leave the village.
- deciding which of the characters Njemile, Abikanile or Chimwala is the heroine.
After doing the heroines activity, the notes suggest comparing your one true heroine with other heroines. You could try the ‘Barefoot Book of Heroines’ by Rebecca Hazel (NB non-fiction) for that.