Guided Reading Notes for The Unluckiest Boy in the World by Andrew Norriss
Introducing the book
- Tell the children that Andrew Norriss has written several books for children, the most famous being Aquila which won the Whitbread Children’s Book of the Year.
- Explain that the main character in the book is called Nicholas and whilst on holiday in Spain with his mother, he falls under an ancient curse which brings bad luck to all those around him.
- Ask the children to turn to a partner and think about what they consider to be good and bad luck – share their ideas with the class.
What might happen?
- After reading Chapter 1, reread the curse on page 16.
- Ask the children to work with a partner and to each think of any unlucky things that might happen as a result of that curse.
- Get children to make up a curse of their own.
- Share their ideas.
Is it bad luck?
- Reread chapter 3 pages 28 -32 from ‘The first of the accidents …’ to ‘Go to the library until lunchtime and read.’
- Ask the children to list the things that happen:
a) Amanda drops a contact lens.
b) A pigeon flies in the window.
c) Sulphuric acid splashes over Mr Daimon.
- Ask the children to turn to a partner and discuss whether any of these things events were bad luck or just accidents that could have been avoided.
- Have they ever had anything happen too them that they thought was bad luck but might have been an avoidable accident?
- Explain to the children that in Reader’s Theatre they will be reading like a writer. Every word is read aloud as Andrew Norriss does when he is writing his books.
- The longest part is the narrator who links all the spoken text together. They must try to read with expression and intonation that is appropriate for the characters and the action taking place.
- Divide the class into groups of 6 and tell the children to take the parts of Narrator, Girl, Nicholas, Fiona, Mr Ryder and Mr Billings. The introduction which sets the scene could be read either by the narrator or a teacher.
- Tell them to practice reading their parts with expression and intonation using cues from the text. Select a group to present the text to the class.
- Read pages 141 – 144 to the class. (beginning with: “On Monday morning…” and ending with “…. it depends.”) Ask them to work with a partner and to discuss how Nicholas’s life has changed, and what Mrs Murajee meant when she said, “Do you believe you’re going to be lucky?…….it depends.”
- Ask children, in the light of reading the book, to think again about something lucky or unlucky that has happened to them.
- Could they have seen it differently?
- What do they believe about themselves? Is it true?
- Do they agree that they can choose what they believe about themselves?
Look at the characterisation of Mr. Daimon and Fiona’s Dad.
- Talk about how important these two characters are to the story and how one of them changes much more than the other. (Remind children how both men are the two extremes of reactions to the curse).
- Brainstorm with the class words to describe the characters of Mr. Daimon and Fiona’s Dad – for example clever, sensible, silly, calm, excitable, mean, foolish, kind, unkind, brave, cowardly. Write the words on the board. Ask the children to work with a partner and to find examples from the text as evidence.
- Ask children to select any two words and think of occasions in the story that the words they have chosen could describe.
- Ask individual children to tell the class about an event they have chosen but not to say which word they chose, then ask the class to suggest which word they think was chosen that described the character in that situation.
- Ask the children to work with a partner give the story marks out of ten. They should then defend their mark with reference to what they liked or disliked in the book.
Click here to download the extract below (pages 97 to 102) with a different colour text for each character.
The Unluckiest Boy in the World by Andrew Norriss from p.97 on
Narrator Girl Nicholas Fiona Mr Ryder Mr Billings
Whilst on holiday in Spain, Nicholas has fallen under a curse. Strange events and bad luck happens all around him. Fiona has become his good friend and often helps sort things out. Through no fault of her own, Nicholas’s mother has been fired from her job at a hotel and Nicholas decides to do something about it…
The Royal Hotel was a large, modern building, in a road just off the high street. Nicholas led the way through the main doors and across the hall to reception.
The girl at the desk had blonde hair, was painting her nails and did not look up as Nicholas explained that he had come to see Mr Billings.
‘What for?’ she asked, without lifting her eyes.
‘I want to ask him why he made my mother lose her job,’ said Nicholas, ‘when all she did was report someone for stealing.’
The girl looked up and glared at him.
‘The manager’s not available,’ she said. ‘Sorry.’
‘It’s alright,’ said Fiona, ‘We’ll wait until he is.’ She took Nicholas over to a sofa on the other side of the hall where she sat down. The receptionist stared at them in hostile fury before returning to work on her nails.
‘I’m not sure this is wise,’ said Nicholas nervously. ‘She looks really angry, and you know what happens when people get angry near me.’
‘I think that’s her problem, not yours,’ said Fiona. ‘All you’re doing is waiting for a chance to see Mr Billings.’
They did not have to wait very long. A woman in a suit appeared from the lift, complaining that she couldn’t get into her room because her key didn’t work, and a moment later a man rang the desk to complain that he couldn’t get out of his room because the door had locked itself.
The hotel used electronic locks, with keys looking rather like credit cards, and within minutes there were several other hotel guests in the lobby, all unable to get into their rooms, and all of them understandably annoyed. Not long after that, Mr Billings appeared to explain that there seemed to be a fault in the central computer that controlled the cards, but that he had called someone to come and fix it.
‘That’s him,’ said Fiona. ‘Go and have a talk to him now.’
A little nervously, Nicholas crossed the floor to Mr Billings.
‘Could I ask you about my mother?’ he asked.
‘What?’ Mr Billings spun irritably round to face him. ‘Who are you?’
‘I’m Nicholas,’ said Nicolas, ‘and my mother is Mrs Frith. You fired her yesterday, and I think it was very unfair. All she was doing –‘
‘I don’t have time to talk to children!’ Mr Billings interrupted angrily. ‘I’m extremely busy. Please leave this hotel at once!’
‘He’s not leaving,’ said Fiona, until you explain why his mother –‘
‘If you don’t leave,’ shouted Mr Billings, ‘I shall throw you both out myself!’ And he was actually reaching out to grab Nicholas by the front of his shirt when there was a loud crash from outside. He ran to the doors in time to see a huge lorry slowly overturning in the driveway, depositing forty tons of gravel on the tarmac in front of the hotel, and completely blocking the entrance to the hotel car park.
While Mr Billings stared at the sight in horror, a waitress came in from the gardens to say that customers having tea on the terrace were complaining about the smell of dead fish coming from the ornamental pond, and what should she do?
Mr Billings did not answer. He was still staring, white-faced, out of the hotel at a man who was climbing over the mountain of gravel and making his way to the main doors.
‘Mr Ryder…’ The manager’s mouth formed a sickly smile. ‘This is an unexpected honour!’
My Ryder, a large powerful-looking man, did not return the smile.
‘What the devil’s going on here?’ he asked, and Mr Billings tried to answer, but his voice was drowned out by the dozen or so other people in reception all eager to voice their complaints. Mr Ryder held up his hands and waited for them to stop.
‘All right,’ he said, ‘let’s take this one step at a time.’ He pointed to the woman in the suit. ‘You go first…’
Twenty minutes later the computer fault was being repaired, the people having tea on the terrace had been moved indoors while the pond was being cleared, and the emergency exit to the car park had been opened so that guests could get their cars in and out. The only people left in the lobby, apart from Mr Ryder and Mr Billings, were Nicholas and Fiona.
‘I’m sorry you’ve had to wait so long,’ Mr Ryder said. ‘What can I do for you both?’
‘You don’t have to worry about these two,’ said Mr Billings. ‘The boy is a troublemaker. I’ve already told him to leave.’
‘I’m not a trouble maker,’ said Nicholas. ‘I’m here to ask why my mother – ‘
‘Out!’ shouted My Billings. ‘I warned you. Get out, or I’ll call the police.’
‘Nobody is calling the police.’ My Ryder’s eyes narrowed as he looked at Nicholas. ‘What’s this about your mother?’
‘I want to know,’ said Nicholas, ‘why she lost her job here when she was only doing what she was supposed to do.’
‘This is ridiculous!’ Mr Billings took a phone from his pocket. ‘I’m calling for security to come and deal with him…’
My Ryder waved him to silence.
‘What’s your name?’
‘I’ve heard of you.’ Mr Ryder nodded slowly. ‘Don’t you go to school at Dent Valley?
Nicholas admitted that he did.
‘I have a friend who teaches there. Michael Daimon.’ Mr Ryder paused. ‘I am the owner of this hotel. If you have a complaint, perhaps you should talk to me.’
Devised by Jane Norriss; Based on a format by Diana Bentley, literacy specialist, Chapter One Bookshop.