Observing and describing in Storm Boy 4: Describing a relationship

Describing a relationship

Introduction

In this Observing and Describing lesson, we look at the relationship between Storm Boy and a pelican he raised and named Mr Percival. The passage highlights how close the two had become, despite the fact that Mr Percival was a wild animal.

The passage illustrates the relationship with no dialogue. You could argue that this isn’t surprising as one of the characters can’t speak, but there’s more to it than that! It's an observational description; it takes a zoomed-out perspective, as if the writer is sitting on a nearby hill, watching the events unfold, and jotting down what they see.

Have a read.

Wherever Storm Boy went, Mr Percival followed. If he collected shells along the beach, Mr Percival went with him, either waddling importantly along at his heels or flying slowly above him in wide circles. If Storm Boy went swimming, or sliding down the sandhills, or playing on the sand, Mr Percival found a good spot nearby and perched there heavily to watch and wait until it was over. If Storm Boy went fishing or rowing on the Coorong, Mr Percival cruised joyously round him with his neck bent back and his chest thrust forward like a dragon ship sailing calmly in a sea of air. Whenever he saw Storm Boy anchor the boat he came gliding in with a long, skimming splash, shook his wings into place, and bobbed serenely on the ripples a few yards away.

Storm BoyColin ThieleSource

The highlighting above is one way of breaking down this snippet. Here's another way of looking at it:

Wherever Storm Boy went, Mr Percival followed. If he collected shells along the beach, Mr Percival went with him, either waddling importantly along at his heels or flying slowly above him in wide circles. If Storm Boy went swimming, or sliding down the sandhills, or playing on the sand, Mr Percival found a good spot nearby and perched there heavily to watch and wait until it was over. If Storm Boy went fishing or rowing on the Coorong, Mr Percival cruised joyously round him with his neck bent back and his chest thrust forward like a dragon ship sailing calmly in a sea of air. Whenever he saw Storm Boy anchor the boat he came gliding in with a long, skimming splash, shook his wings into place, and bobbed serenely on the ripples a few yards away.

Storm BoyColin ThieleSource

Can you see the pattern in the writing? It has an if/then, action/reaction structure (if Storm Boy does this, then Mr Percival does that).

You wouldn’t write about all relationships in this way but it suits a boy on an isolated beach and his pelican friend. 

In this lesson, you’ll be describing a relationship using the same structure and techniques as this passage. It can be related to the characters and environment you’ve written about previously but it doesn’t have to be (especially if you didn’t do those lessons, obviously). 

Some brainstorming to begin. To rewrite this passage, you can describe the relationship between a person and an animal, but you don’t have to.

Your turn

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