Audience: Intensive English Program - Level 2
Submitted by: Firoozeh Koopaei
Azzi in Between (by Sarah Garland) is a story about fear, separation and loss, as well as hope and new beginnings. It is not only a strong narrative but also an artistic presentation of powerful emotions through lines, colours and shadows. The story is about Azzi, a Middle Eastern girl, who is forced to move from her hometown and seek refuge in a new country due to war. In the new country, every member of the family faces their own challenges to start a new life.
Teaching and learning ideas:
Examine the front cover of Azzi in Between. Discuss what you can see, what type of book it is, etc. (genre – introduce term).
• What clues does the front cover give us about the story?
• Who is the little girl?
• What does the title mean?
• What do you think Azzi is ‘in between’?
• What is she holding in her hands?
• What do you think she is looking at in the picture?
Suggested activities before reading the text:
• Short burst writing – this could be done as a follow-up task.
• Students write individual predictions: What do they think the story will be about?; What clues are there on the front cover that lead them to think this?
Reading the text
The book could be explored as a whole class activity, with discussion. Suggested discussion questions while reading the text:
• Compare the first picture (caption: There was a country at war…) and the third picture (caption: Every day the war was coming closer...). What feelings does this evoke?
• How do the pictures make you feel?
• What are the characters doing?
• Why is the first picture coloured differently to the others on this page?
• How do you feel as you watch soldiers marching by?
• In what ways is life being disturbed?
• Create a brainstorm of words which describe the differences.
• How could the teachers help Azzi to understand what they are saying?
• How could you make Azzi feel welcome if she came into your class.
• Look at the text and describe how the family feels when they see Grandma again.
• Why couldn’t Azzi sleep?
• Why was she able to sleep happily in the end?
• Is the ending totally happy?
• What do the beans symbolise?
• Can the students find examples from the text which show fear? (Discuss the effect of the colours used.)
• What do people need to achieve in order to enjoy a new life?
• If you moved to another country, what are some of the things you would need to help you settle in?
• Is there a key message in the story?
• What has this story taught you?
• What issues has the story addressed? (e.g. war, refugees, how can other countries help)
• How has the author helped you to understand the issues?
• Do you like the way this story was presented, as a comic? Why or why not?
• What do you think the author’s purpose is? How do you know?
• Summarise what happened to Grandma.
• Cloze: Pair work. Select a range of sentences and images from the text. Students take turns to read the sentences to their partner. Their partner must find the correct picture on their worksheet, and copy the sentences underneath the correct image. The dictating student will need to include punctuation, e.g. full stop, comma, etc.
• Art project: Students create a comic that shows the journey from their country to Australia. Their finished work will show an understanding of shot types, colour and composition used in comics and film. The graphic novel Azzi in Between and particularly Sabeen’s and Grandma’s stories will be used as inspiration.