Angel of Kokoda Teachers Notes | New Guinea

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ANGEL OF KOKODA Author and Illustrator: Mark Wilson ISBN: 9780734411280 | HB | $28.99 Pub Date: March 2010 Teacher’s Guide by Robyn Sheahan-Bright Contents: ã ã ã ã ã ã ã ã ã Introduction Themes & Curriculum Topics Topics for Discussion & Research Conclusion Author’s Notes About the Author/Illustrator Blackline Masters Bibliography About the Author of the Notes Angel of Kokoda – Mark Wilson Teacher’s Guide 2010 Page 1 of 12 www.hachettechildrens.com.au Introduction It’s 1942, and twelve yea
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   Angel of Kokoda – Mark WilsonTeacher’s Guide 2010 Page 1 of 12 www.hachettechildrens.com.au   ANGEL OF KOKODA Author and Illustrator: Mark Wilson  ISBN: 9780734411280 | HB | $28.99  Pub Date: March 2010 Teacher’s Guide by Robyn Sheahan-BrightContents: ã Introduction ã Themes & Curriculum Topics ã Topics for Discussion & Research ã Conclusion ã Author’s Notes ã About the Author/Illustrator  ã Blackline Masters ã Bibliography ã About the Author of the Notes   Angel of Kokoda – Mark WilsonTeacher’s Guide 2010 Page 2 of 12 www.hachettechildrens.com.au   Introduction It’s 1942, and twelve year old Kari lives in the village of Kokoda, which is situated in a tropicalparadise in Papua New Guinea. There he has developed a warm relationship with Sister Mary whoteaches him at the mission school since he has no parents caring for him–his father is away working,and his mother died in the flooded river some years earlier. Kari has been left to work and tend thecrops while his father is away.But this idyll is rudely interrupted when World War Two infringes on his small country and Kari findshimself isolated and alone, until he stumbles upon some Australian troop members, one of whom islater in need of his help.The denouement of this moving story of a youth’s survival and endurance is open-ended. Kari hasoffered comfort to the lone soldier, who has presumably passed away. Where will Kari end up? Howmany years will the war go on for? Will Kari ever find his father again? These are the sorts of questions which plague anyone involved in such a conflict. And there are no easy answers to any of them. Themes Several themes are covered which might be related to other curriculum areas: ã   War  During World War Two many Australian soldiers fought in Papua New Guinea and many remember the bravery of the New Guinean people known as the ‘Fuzzy Wuzzy Angels’ who fought beside them.  Activity: Research the role played by Australian troops and by the Fuzzy Wuzzy Angels inPapua New Guinea. [See websites listed in Bibliography .] Activity: Research the Kokoda story. Read about the contemporary Kokoda Trail and itsmeaning. Visit websites [See Bibliography below.] Discussion Point: To Australians, the Kokoda Trail is the ultimate symbol of our country’sinvolvement in PNG during WWII. But what did the conflict mean to the PNG people? Thispicture book story is told not from the point of view of the soldier but from a PNG boy’sperspective. Try to discover how Kari’s people might have presented or symbolized their ownwar history? Would Kari’s memories be of bravery and heroism, or of fear, loss andconfusion? Activity: Sister Mary leaves a brief note which Kari discovers. Research and find out whether there are any first person accounts of the Catholic Sisters’ times in New Guinea. (eg DoreenEdwards’ Woman of Vision: Sister Catherine O’Sullivan, daughter of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart, also known as Mother Flavia, and “The Little Flower of Rabaul”  contains some of theSister’s letters. Note: This book is not readily available.) [See also Language and Literacy  below.] Activity: How did the Fuzzy Wuzzy Angels fare in the aftermath of war? [See also Blackline Master 3] ã   Bravery Bravery is often described as if it consists of fighting bloody battles and fierce heroics. Kari has noallegiance to the soldier he encounters and yet he carries a man twice his size and looks after him.He braves leaches, dense undergrowth, the fear of animal predators and human adversaries, but   Angel of Kokoda – Mark WilsonTeacher’s Guide 2010 Page 3 of 12 www.hachettechildrens.com.au   endures his journey largely alone. Discussion Point: How would you describe bravery? What brave people do you know? Whydo you think they are brave? Discussion Point: What would you have done in Kari’s situation? ã   Friendship Friendship is often forged in the most unlikely of circumstances and between people who mightordinarily never meet. War is often a great leveller. Men and women from different classes andeducational and ethnic backgrounds work side by side or are thrown together in camps or byinternment. Discussion Point: The relationship between Sister Mary and Kari is suggested in a fewbrief words. Kari also forms a bond with the Australian soldier. How does learning another language help to create a bond between people of different races? Discussion Point: Secondary students might read Michael Noonan’s McKenzie’s Boots  (UQP, 1987) which is about an encounter between an Australian and a Japanese soldier inPNG and also features a butterfly as a symbol. Discuss. Curriculum Topics This picture book touches on the themes above and might be used in conjunction with curriculumtopics with primary or secondary school students in the following suggested areas: ã   Study of History, Society and Environment It can be used in studies of history, society or environmental issues. Activity: Research the role played by the Australian government in PNG during and sinceWorld War Two. Discussion Point: Discuss the lives of the highland people whose subsistence economyrelied on adults and children planting food and looking after crops in order to survive. Whatsorts of crops were prevalent? Are they still staple foods today? Discussion Point: The Kumusi River is not only a source of water but also a major thoroughfare and a threat in the flooding season. Research the role played by such rivers in asubsistence economy. Discussion Point: Discuss the ‘values’ conveyed in the term ‘angel’ and how Kari’sbehaviour evinces those values. Is the term an appropriate one to describe the part playedby PNG people in the WWII conflict? Is there a better way to describe it? Discussion Point:   “It will never be the same, silent, sweet-smelling jungle track where manand his indecencies were almost unknown. It is a trail of blood and iron now, and in thememory of this generation will remain so.”  These words are inscribed on the Kokodamemorial. Discuss these words and their implications in terms of the people of PNG. Discussion Point: The Kokoda Trail has become a major tourism attraction which is visitedby individuals and corporate groups. Discuss the role played by such ventures inmemorialising and perpetuating the past. ã   English Language and Literacy   Angel of Kokoda – Mark WilsonTeacher’s Guide 2010 Page 4 of 12 www.hachettechildrens.com.au   The text of this book might be studied in relation to the following aspects: Question: This story is told as a third person past tense account of a Papua New Guineanboy named Kari, who is attending a mission school in World War Two. Imagine if he wastelling the story in first person. How might it have differed? Activity: Tell another version of the story as Sister Mary’s interpretation of these events, or in the voice of the soldier whom Kari rescues. Activity: This text is undercut by the inclusion of various other texts in differentnarrative styles which add to the telling of the story . eg Excerpts from the officialdocuments and also a handwritten letter presumably written by Sister Mary. It opens with apoem written by the author/illustrator of the picture book. And there is a map on one page aswell. Discuss narrative styles and genres with the students and invite them to choose one of these styles and to create a text relevant to the story. Activity: The butterfly is used as a symbol in this written text, and so is the idea of an angel.What do these two words denote? How might they be interpreted symbolically here? Activity: Read the poem by Sapper Bert Beros about ‘The Fuzzy Wuzzy Angels’. See Wikipedia <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fuzzy_Wuzzy_Angels#Bert_Beros_Poem> What doesthe poem suggest? Activity: Test your students’ comprehension by asking them questions about the visual andwritten text. [See also Blackline Master 2 below.] Discussion Point: Students might be encouraged to use critical literacy skills to unearthmeaning in this text. What might have happened to Kari after the war?   What happened toSister Mary?  Activity: Read some picture book folktales from Papua New Guinea to give students someidea of the nature of the storytelling tradition in PNG. [See Bibliography below. ] ã   Visual Literacy The visual text of a book works with the written text to tell the story using the various parts of thebook’s design and illustrations, as explored below: Activity:   The cover  of a book is an important part of its message. Read the cover anddiscuss its impact. It is suggestive of a framed photograph in an older style. But the picture isof Kari, a mission child in Papua New Guinea who was unlikely to have had such a photo of himself. What is the author suggesting with this image? Discussion Point: The endpapers are suggestive of the tropical paradise disturbed by war.The half title page depicts the mission school in this landscape, and is both suggestive of thepeacefulness of the settlement but also of the encroachment of the so-called ‘civilising’influences of outsiders. The title page is a black and white image of the soldiers labouring upthe Kokoda Track who are due to interrupt this idyll even further. Later pictures are abstractand impressionistic images of the landscape which convey the essence of a scene; the action;the mood or feeling; the terror of war. Discuss the impressions each painting in the book givesyou. Discussion Point: The format of the book is square in shape, and the layout of thestoryboard contains largely double page spreads which depict village and jungle landscapes.How does the format and design of the book influence your reading of it?
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