Teacher's notes - The Anything Shop

by the author

  • ·        Themes
  • ·        Puzzles
  • ·        Grammar & Punctuation
  • ·        Comprehension
  • ·        Cloze
  • ·        Text types – persuasive text
  • ·        Text types - short story
  • ·        Text types - Story board

The Anything Shop explores themes of family, friendship, consumerism,
delayed gratification and goal setting, aging, listening to instinct, persistence, affection and belonging. 

Children’s natural desire for toys, books and gadgets is usually tempered by parental control, but in this story that control is handed over to the children. Their eager desires lead them to swap 'intangibles' provided free by their families with special toys they’ve dreamed of. The new shop in town, Dream Toys, convinces parents to shower their children with toys in order to show their love. Another theme is in the area of inter-personal skills - gut instinct. Charlie is first warned when meeting Alfred, who already knows his name and ‘we know what children like’. In situations of perceived threat, the body sends messages to the conscious mind through feelings, such as the tingling sensation Charlie feels. Other hints include Alfred’s glistening teeth, Meryl’s sparkling eyes ‘like black diamonds’, her impatient foot tapping and the instant contract. All are signs Charlie misses. Another theme is friendship, which can spring from situations in life where we find ourselves in need of a friend. Children have great capacity for compassion and empathy, especially if they are encouraged to think of others’ feelings as much as their own. The theme of persistence is important. When things don’t go exactly as we want, we must have the courage to explore other possibilities and, perhaps on some occasions, accept there are things which are not within our control. Delayed gratification adds value to what we desire and teaches us self-control and goal setting, both valuable assets to our lives.

Questions to explore:
1.     What is consumerism? How does advertising affect the choices we make?
2.     Instinct - How do you know when something isn’t quite right and could be dangerous or harmful?
3.     Belonging – what makes you feel part of the family and loved? What ‘intangibles’ do we sometimes take for granted?
4.     What special things can only a family give you? What is affection? Why are intangibles such as hugs important?
5.     What is body language? What signs does the body give you that tell you something isn’t quite right?
6.     Why is fear a normal reaction, designed to protect us?
7.     Friendship – how do you know a person is your friend? What do they do or say?
8.     Why is saving up for something, not just being given it when we want, important? What does appreciation mean?

Activity Sheet 
Find the hidden words in this puzzle

P  O  H  S  G  N  I  H  T  Y  N  A
C  M  I  N  I  Z  O  O  L  R  I  G
H  U  G  S  O  U  I  A  Z  I  G  D
A  P  M  P  U  L  C  G  O  D  L  E
R  I  U  E  Y  F  K  D  A  D  A  B
L  N  M  R  B  O  L  J  M  A  S  B
I  K  E  F  A  G  E  O  A  E  S  I
E  M  A  L  T  I  S  X  Z  R  E  E
I  N  T  A  N  G  I  B  L  E  S  A
S  M  E  L  L  O  M  E  T  R  E  U

Intangibles     jars     tickles      Mum      Dad      Debbie      Sam      Meryl
Alfred      fog      Anything Shop      smell-o-metre      dog      pink      hugs
Girl      bat      mini-zoo      glasses

Nouns & pronouns.
Nouns are ‘naming words’. We use them to name objects ie: desk, pencil, sugar and people, ie: Sam, Charlie, Mum, Debbie. We also use them to name places, ie: Sydney, England, Africa, The Harbour Bridge. Other nouns include ‘abstract nouns’ ie: happiness, cruelty, fun. These are ‘things’ you know exist but you can’t necessarily touch or see.
Pronouns are words we use in place of the nouns, when we don’t want to repeat the name over and over ie: she, he, her, they, it him.

Underline the 20 nouns and 6 pronouns in this passage. Correct the 5 capital letters:
“As he lay in bed, cuddling his pillow, charlie wondered; what did meryl and Alfred want with a boy’s Hugs anyway? His mind flew back to the day he had visted the shop. It had seemed so wonderful. He remembered the kangaroo and her joey, the friendly Saint bernard and the boxes of things every child dearly wanted. What did grown-ups want with a child’s ‘Personal’ things, like hugs? It was time to find out.”  (The Anything Shop page 43)
* Did you find the spelling mistake?

There are several important skills in comprehension – a) remembering facts,
b) understanding the main idea, c) understanding what is hinted at, but not said
directly, d) understanding themes and ideas explored in the text, e) forming an
opinion based on what you’ve read.
1.     What is the name of Charlie’s sister?
2.     Where does Charlie meet his new friend, Sam?
3.     How are the intangibles stored?
4.     Why do Meryl and Alfred need the children’s intangibles?
5.     Who normally gives Charlie affection?
6.     Explain why Charlie wanted the cricket bat so badly.
7.     Why do you think Charlie’s family kept buying him toys?
8.     At what point do you think Charlie decided he needed his hugs back?
9.     How do you think Charlie felt when he realised he would have to wait two years for a hug?
10. How did Dream Toys make so much  money?

TEXT TYPES – Persuasive text:
Suggestion A –
Imagine you are Charlie’s friend. Charlie is about to sign the contract. What will you say to convince him it’s a bad idea? Include the facts you know at that point in the story, the hints you have picked up about Meryl and Alfred, what your ‘gut instinct’ tells you and why a magic cricket bat might not be a fair swap for two years of hugs. What seems wrong about the situation that would bother you?
Suggestion B –
Imagine you are Charlie’s friend. Charlie is about to sign the contract and you think it’s a great idea! What will you say to convince him? Think about all the advantages of having a cricket bat that hits six runs every time. How will it make Charlie’s life better?

Fill in the missing words by using the book or thinking what word might best fit.
“There he is!” hissed Charlie, as Alfred’s thin, long _________ strode into view, his fat __________sticking out. He was _____________ cheerily. “Sh! ___________. He’s talking to her.” Sam held a __________ to his lips. Alfred was chatting to the little ___________ like they were old friends.”
(The Anything Shop page 54)

TEXT TYPES – Short Story:
A short story is different to a book in many ways. Its features include:
·        Begins right in the middle of the action
·        No back story is provided, the reader must guess by what the characters say and do. The reader must be ‘in’ the story straight away.
·        Builds a vivid picture in the reader’s mind without having to explain things.
·        Short length
·        Has a climax and sometimes a coda or reflection at the end.
·        Doesn’t waste words on describing things too much, but instead uses strong verbs, such as ‘tackled’ instead of ‘went to grab’.
·        Avoids using too many adverbs, ie: ‘lightly’, ‘hesitatingly’ as these slow down the action.
·        Avoids using well-worn and meaningless words or phrases such as ‘got’, ‘get’, ‘go’, ‘nice’, ‘stuff’ ie: ‘she got into her nice car, put her stuff inside and drove away’. Better – ‘She wrenched open the car door, threw in her backpack on the back seat and zoomed off, smoke billowing from the exhaust pipe’.
·        Uses emotive words, ie: ‘wrenched’ (she was angry), ‘threw’ (she didn’t just place it inside) ‘zoomed’ (sped off) ‘billowing’ (tells us the car was old or damaged), which help the reader understand the situation and how the characters are feeling.

Short Story Topics :
1.     You’ve traded something important at the Anything Shop and now you want it back, but the shop has moved. Oh no!
2.     You’re stuck in the Anything Shop, in the dark, with Sam. You can hear Meryl and Alfred coming. What happens?
3.     Dream Toys has built a second shop in your neighbourhood. Meryl and Alfred are out the front trying to convince you to come inside. What will you do? What happens?

TEXT TYPES – Story Board:
Depict your favourite scenes from the story in a cartoon or story board in the space below.

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