Prologue: Stew Meat

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TSWBAT identify first person point of view in the novel "The Wish Giver".

Big Idea

Hear it directly in FIRST PERSON!

Warm Up

20 minutes

Identifying and/or recognizing a character's point of view is a complex skill that the students must master as they read both literature and informational text.  In the case of this novel, The Wish Giver, Stew Meat is the narrator of the novel, and he tells the tale through first person and third person narrative.  The Prologue is when we first meet him, and he sets up the story in first person.  Although we've discussed point of view at other times, before I introduce the novel, I will give the kids further exposure to first and third person. 

Reading the novel The Wish Giver, highlights the differences between the two points of view within one book.  The day before we begin reading, I present two versions of a story written from first and third person.  A popular choice for this activity is a comparison between The Three Little Pigs and The True Story of the Three Little Pigs by Jon Scieszka.  Nearly every resource on teaching Point of View seems to include the titles.  I wanted to find a resource I could be certain they hadn't used before, and accomplished this with the help of't let the name frighten you...and its perfect short story of Cinderella based on the Stepmother's point of view, which is included in the resources.  I later discovered there is a book available: Seriously, Cinderella is SO Annoying! Trisha Speed Shaskan, which has good reviews and is perfect for the lesson. 

Unless you have students who are strangers to Cinderella, discussing the original story need only be brief to leave more time for the less familiar "version."  The stepmother's side of things is what's key here.  After both points of view have been presented, the students create a Cinderella themed Venn Diagram to distinguish between the two.  I included an interactive Venn Diagram for use with the Smart Board or the kids can use it to create Venn Diagrams themselves.   Another helpful tool is the Web Cluster used to focus the children on the point of view of one of the characters or stories.  Here are is a student example:  Student Example: Stepmother POV Word Cluster.

Here is a Venn Diagram example: Student Example Cinderella/Step Mother POV Venn Diagram

An important factor for the students to consider is that when the stepmother is telling the tale from her first person point of view, she isn't taking anyone else's thoughts or ideas into consideration.  She's simply stating things the way she saw and felt them as they occurred.


25 minutes

We're ready to begin our tale of Coven Tree, The Wish Giver.  The Prologue is an engaging introduction to an imaginative book the kids will enjoy.  Stewart Meade, more affectionately referred to as Stew Meat, is one of the characters who receives a card from the Wish Giver. He narrates from the first person point of view in the Prologue and Epilogue, then through third person narrative to tell the stories of the three other "card recipients."  

I suggest reading the Prologue aloud to the kids.  It's a bit lengthy, but a good way to get them into the flow of the book.  In addition, with a teacher read, the expressions and nuances are enhanced, giving the authentic feeling of first person, which gets the kids excited to find out what will happen next.

After reading the Prologue, I initiate discussion on their initial thoughts of the novel.  Some student reactions: "This sounds like a cool book," and "Definitely fiction and way different than our last book," (which was Island of the Blue Dolphins.)  I ask for volunteers to clarify the point of view the Prologue is written in.  Without question, most students identify it as first person.  The class then jots down notes about what made the Prologue first a first person example.  This shows immediate understanding. 

We will now contrast first person point of view against third person (which is the way most of the book is written.)  Typically, it's not a difficult task to take a third person piece of writing and turn the story around using first person.  Going the other way, however, is not as easy because the writer is going from the general perspective, in which they have access to all kinds of information, to the personal level where a single narrator has been privy to his/her own point of view.  This is the task I put before the students.

Using the Prologue from the novel, which is from Stew Meat's point of view, they select some parts to rewrite imagining that it's described in third person narrative instead.   


15 minutes

I want the students to read their third person creations to the class and compare how differently they sound.  It's can be complex, and is excellent practice in becoming fluent with the tenses.  Some kids had a difficult time staying in third person.  It's interesting to note the parts of the story they keep, and what details fall by the wayside once it changes tense.  Giving them the opportunity to present also allows them time in front of their classmates as well as listening to their one another.

Additionally, now that they've read the Prologue, it's time to give them each the chance to make their own wish in the style of the Wish Giver's tent experience.  I ask them to write a wish on one side of a 3x5 card and draw a red dot of wish cards in the center of the other side.  For those who haven't read The Wish Giver, Thaddeous Blinn (Wish Giver) is the one who lures people into his carnival tent with the promise of granting them "whatever they want for only 50 cents."  For that 50 cents, the children in the novel are given a card with a red dot. This is what I have the students recreate.  There is excitement as they come up with their wishes, and many are quite secretive about what they've written.

I use these red dot cards as part of my bulletin board display board.  The wishes are on the back side of the cards, of course, and I'll use the kids' wishes in an activity after completion of the book.