Varmints discussion guide



Author: Helen Ward

Illustrator: Marc Craste

Publisher: Templar

Suggested Year Group:  Year 5


Once, the only sounds to be heard were the buzzing of bees in the grass, the murmuring of moles in the earth, and the song of birds in the sky. These warmed the hearts of those who cared to listen - until the others came to fill the sky with a cacophony of noise.

Rationale for selection

Varmints is a stunning picture book which explores the destruction of nature through lyrical prose and dramatic illustrations. The illustrations will promote quality discussion as they are open to personal interpretation. Parallels can be drawn between what is happening in the story and the modern world. Themes such as lost opportunities for silence and man’s lack of consideration for the natural world offer rich opportunities for discussion in guided reading.

Points for discussion

  • What do you think a Varmint is?
  • Look at the way the text is presented.
  • How would you describe the different styles and fonts?
  • Why have different sizes been used?
  • Is there a moral to this story?
  • What do you think it is?
  • How does the end of the story make you feel?
  • Is there an image that you find particularly powerful?
  • Which one and why?

Explore the double page spread ‘The buildings scratched the sky where the birds once sang’

  • What is the first thing that you notice when looking at this double page spread?
  • What’s happening here?
  • How easy is it for you to, make out the detail of the picture?
  • How clear are the words on the page?
  • What does this picture make you feel? How would you describe the mood created?
  • Have you any idea about the time of day or the time of year in this place?
  • How many Varmints are there and how are they organised? Can you see anyone in charge?
  • What would it be like to live in this place? Does it remind you of anywhere you have been or seen?
  • If you could hear in this picture what would the sounds be? What parts of the picture generate these noises/sounds?


Copyright: Just Imagine Story Centre Ltd

All rights reserved.

These notes may be printed freely for use in classrooms but may not be reproduced in any other format without the permission of the author.

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