ISBN 1405207604

In this book Julia Donaldson successfully creates an imagined world through her use of both setting and language. The fact that Groilish shares the same syntax as English makes it easier to translate, but Julia Donaldson also provides Groilish/ English dictionary pages at the end of the book. This device is not superficial but is an integral part of the plot and an additional way of helping readers to empathise with the characters who find themselves disorientated by their inability to make themselves understood. There is interesting character development during the book and children will be able to discuss how each of the characters changes in response to the new setting. There are some wonderfully vivid scenes which use the setting for great dramatic effect and children could develop these ideas visually, perhaps exploring how mood and effect can be created through choice of visual viewpoint. There are interviews, a ‘Groilish’ game and writing activities based on the book at

ISBN 0440863767

This is a great introduction to Philip Pullman for Year Four readers. Pullman describes this as one of his fairy tales and stresses the importance of the setting: ’The Scarecrow and his Servant, though, belongs to Italy. If it were set to music, it would be played on mandolins, and be in the rhythm of a tarantella.’ This link with music would be worth pursuing in the classroom. Children exploring imaginary worlds will be interested to compare this with The Firework-maker’s Daughter, another of his fairy tales but this time set in a ‘magical sort of Indonesia’. This picaresque adventure allows for a variety of settings and offers another useful model for structuring writing. It will also help children to understand how settings can influence events and characters and can also help to drive a narrative. It will work well with the problem solving approach to narrative suggested by the new Framework for this unit. Children will also enjoy the elements of bizarre, and the humour which centres on the impulsive and gullible character of the Scarecrow.

ISBN 0385607253

This is a great introduction for Year four children to the collaborative stories of Paul Stewart and Chris Riddell. This (like Fergus Crane and Corby Flood in the Far Flung Adventure series) is a pacy and exciting read filled with mystery, adventure and humour. There is a wonderful range of eccentric characters and a range of highly imaginative settings. The book celebrates the power of stories and in its battle between good and evil we see stories used to different ends; the evil Elliot de Mille and Cressida Claw are using stories to threaten, undermine and destroy the people of Firefly Square while the unravelling of the plot and resolution of the mystery surrounding Hugo’s ancestry depends on the telling of individual characters’ stories. The structure of stories within stories would lend itself well to story telling and collaborative and creative story-making. For teachers, reading the interview with Paul Stewart and Chris Riddell at may inspire ideas for different ways of collaborative working.

ISBN 000675368X

The revised Framework recommends that children read series stories based in imagined worlds to help them to discover ways in which authors develop initial ideas. The ever popular Narnia series develops in many interesting ways, not just through additional characters but through time shifts within Narnia itself. This picture book version not only supports younger readers but opens up possibilities of exploring how writers use language to create imagined worlds and how these may be interpreted by different readers. As well as comparing extracts with the original text (which some Year Four children will be able to read independently), children might compare the illustrations of this less dangerous and archaic Narnia with that of the Disney film version at This may support children in being experimental and evaluative when making their own computer generated fantasy settings. The site also offers striking images which may support writing and drama.

ISBN 0099408392

Although often read with young children, this classic picture book is wonderful to use with older children who can enjoy exploring the nuances of the story as well as using it as a springboard for creative activities. Close attention to the relationship between text and pictures gives further insight into the psychological aspects of the story as well as the move from reality to fantasy and back to reality. This is a great example for children of how, in the fantasy genre, the journey to the imaginary world can allow the main character to grow and develop. Similarly the relationship between the child’s emotions and behaviour and the fantasy setting is important; the setting both reflects the behaviour and influences changes. As well as this the setting and the characters within it offer plenty of scope for drama, dance, mask making and performance, music making and puppetry.

ISBN 0099432986

Sally’s gift of flight offers her a perspective on the world which takes her beyond the ordinary. Even the real world viewed from above contains elements of story, incongruity, and jokes about the reality of reality. The real becomes surreal. Children need to be close readers of pictures and open to the experiences of wondering and questioning to get to the heart of the ideas raised in this book. A superficial reading will leave the reader outside the closed doors whereas behind them are all sorts of wonderful worlds. The imagined worlds within the book and the possibilities for events and adventures within them offer many ideas for story telling, drama and writing. Again, Sally’s experiences change the way she views the world and her life. Importantly, it also links her through time to the other members of her family. Children might be interested to pursue ideas of the surreal when developing computer images for fantasy worlds.

ISBN 0140349669

This book draws on ideas and images from traditional European tales to create an imagined world of Snow and Ice. The story telling is both simple in terms of its directness but also contains marvellous figurative language. It reads aloud wonderfully well and is a spell-binding class read. The setting is also used effectively to convey the emotional states of the characters and the difficulty of Ivan’s journey. In overcoming the dangers on the way and defeating Starjik to rescue his brother, he learns about himself as well as his world. Children could map out his journey alongside his character development and explore how Robert Swindells uses language, including sentence structures, as well as imagery to create a world which is isolated and bleak.

ISBN 0340902639

This is the latest book in a series which began with How to Train Your Dragon. This book will probably appeal particularly to boys, both because of its action packed adventure, and its particular brand of humour. However, Hiccup, the main character, is an unwilling hero and rejects the thuggish power-wielding of his cousin Snotlout and Camicazi, his friend, is a strong girl character who shows kindness and humour as well as impressive fearlessness. The setting in a ‘Viking world’ of the Frozen North is an integral part of the plot and provides the possibilities for hair-raising journeys over snow and ice and encounters with dragons. The lively charcoal style pictures add to the zany excitement of the text and there are also explanatory annotations and other inserted texts (fact-files, tables etc). Books in this series would be good reads for confident independent readers.

ISBN 0140370609

This is an exciting fantasy adventure in which a kite is used as the device to enter another world. Within the book there is a good balance between frightening episodes and humour. Moments of tension are built up well and the descriptive language is evocative. Children love the characters, particularly Baby B. This is essentially a simple tale built around a theme of good versus evil and involving a quest, but the story is well written and offers children good models for writing as well as being a great book for reading aloud. In addition, this is the first in a series of three books which are popular independent reading books for Year four children.