Teaching Plot Using Esio Trot

Sunday, January 21, 2018

"The distance between their balconies might not have been more than a few yards, but to Mr. Hoppy it seemed like a million miles." (p. 10)

There aren't many love stories that would entice my fourth grade class full of boys, but earlier this month Esio Trot by Roald Dahl did just that.  Perhaps a lesser known and definitely shorter book by the timelessly popular Dahl, this story is just as enchanting as his better known works. It's the perfect length for teaching plot because it's easy to get a handle on the exposition, rising action, climax, falling action and resolution.

While the book title might seem a little intimidating, it is a good hook for curious kiddos who find out right away that esio trot is simply tortoise spelled backward. Mr. Hoppy, who is in love with his downstairs neighbor Mrs. Silver, makes up a magic spell to help her tortoise Alfie "grow" which involves reverse speak so-to-say. We listened to the story on audio from Audible.com (included in a collection called Fantastic Mr. Fox and Other Animal Stories) and each time Mr. Hoppy's "magic" words were spoken, quiet giggles could be heard throughout my classroom.

Even if you are a Roald Dahl and Esio Trot fan, you may not know that the BBC released a made-for-television movie adapted from this story in 2015. I have yet to get my hands on a DVD copy (its currently only formatted for UK DVD players), but my students squealed with delight when I shared this movie trailer:

All my products for this novel can be found FREE in my TPT store.  
(The Comprehension Packet has been downloaded almost 4,000 times!) 


One of my favorite parts of my Novel Units is the Constructed Response included on every Final Test.  This writing component allows me to have a grade for both reading and writing when we take a test, and it allows me to get a glimpse of how deeply the students really became invested in the literature. Their passion for Mr. Hoppy's passion for Mrs. Silver was quite clear in their Constructed Responses for this test, which I'll leave you with today.  The prompt was: "As far as we know, Mrs. Silver never found out what Mr. Hoppy did. Imagine that he decided to confess to Mrs. Silver once they were married. Write a letter to Mrs. Silver from Mr. Hoppy explaining what he did and why he did it. Make sure to include details from the story."

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