New course: Observing and describing in Storm Boy

Storm Boy 2019 movie image

Storm Boy is one of the great classics of Australian children’s literature. Written in 1964 by Colin Thiele, it tells the story of a boy who lives with his father in a shack on a desolate beach in South Australia. Isolated and unschooled, Storm Boy spends his days exploring the landscape in the company of an indigenous tracker named Fingerbone, and a pelican Storm Boy calls Mr Percival.

In this course we sample a variety of descriptive passages from throughout the story, and explore how Thiele describes environments, weather, people and action, all using the evocative, almost mythical voice of Storm Boy.

Lessons in the course:

Storm boy lesson tiles

What narrative text features do we cover?

The writing in Storm Boy is deceptively simple. While it is commonly read in 5th grade, it uses language patterns and a heightened, lyrical tone that are rare in modern children’s literature.

Snippet of storm boy text

Much of the focus of these lessons is in how to capture that tone, which is easier than it sounds, so we point out subtle but critical choices including compounding adjectives, mixing tenses, and placing verbs in unusual positions in the sentence.

Example of instructions from lesson 

Example response

Who is this course for?

This is course has been flagged for Middle Years but it is very challenging and would easily suit higher grade levels. These lessons probably require teacher support and classroom discussion.

Example snippet (from Lesson 1: Describing a place)

Snippet text

Example model response 

Storm Boy example


This course is great way to stretch students’ understanding of language and voice, and help them observe their environment closely and elevate it through descriptive writing.