Thursday, May 23, 2024
Lights on Cotton Rock

Lights On Cotton Rock

by Mark Warner
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Buy This Book * More books by David Litchfield

Heather is a little girl who wants to go to Outer Space, where the stars sparkle with magic and wonder. When a spaceship lands at Cotton Rock, it seems that all of her dreams have come true. But soon, the alien has to leave. Will the spaceship ever come back? And if it does, is Heather ready to leave everything on Earth behind?

Teaching Ideas and Resources:


  • Look at the blurb on the back cover and discuss what might happen in the story. Could you use this as the starting point for your own story about a girl who wants to live among the stars?
  • Carry out some role-play activities in which one person imagines that they are Heather. What questions would you like to ask her? How might she respond?
  • Imagine that Heather wrote her family a note when she first left home. What might it say?
  • Some of the illustrations don’t have text to accompany them. Can you write some sentences (or some speech) that match the pictures?
  • Write a newspaper report about the sighting of a UFO on Cotton Rock… or about the first alien encounter with a human.
  • Write Heather’s diary entries about her experiences in the story.
  • Write a letter from Heather to the alien from the time when she is waiting to meet her friend again.
  • Can you think of other stories that feature UFOs and alien encounters?
  • Imagine that Heather tells her son about the adventures that she has had with the alien. What would she say? Could you write or record that story?
  • Think about the character of Heather. What words and phrases would you use to describe her? How is she similar / different to you?
  • Write a short review of the story to add to a shelf in a library or bookshop. Could you write a review for an online bookstore?
  • In the following video, the author / illustrator answers questions from children in a primary school. What questions would you like to ask him?


  • Write a report about the solar system and the stars. What do you already know? What would you like to find out?
  • Create one of the pages of the ‘Mysteries of Space’ book that Heather reads with her son.
  • Look at the use of light and shadows in the illustrations. How are shadows formed? How do shadows change as the source of light moves?


  • Create a stop-motion animation that retells part of the story.

Design Technology

  • Design and build your own UFO. What different features will it have?
  • Design a machine that could help Heather communicate with her alien friend when they are separated.


  • Look at the first illustration of the UFO. How many different colours can you see? Can you try to create a similar picture?
  • Draw or paint a series of pictures that show what you think aliens might look like.
  • Look at the pages that show Heather growing older as she sits and waits on Cotton Rock. Could you draw a sequence of pictures to show how you have grown (or how you might grow in the future)?
  • David Litchfield decided to draw a picture and post it online every day for one year. The following video was used to promote an exhibition that shared the pictures. Could you try to complete a drawing every day to improve your own skills?


  • Create a map of Cotton Rock and the places around it.


  • Create a timeline that shows the events from the story. Can you make a timeline of your own life so far? What local / national / international events have taken place during the time that you have been alive?


  • Look at the illustrations of Heather when she is turning her torch on and off. How is she feeling? How can you tell? Can you think of different words that can describe emotions?
  • How do we know that Heather and her new friend are having a nice time when they first meet? Can you describe their expressions and body language?
  • “What we are looking for might be closer than we think.” What does this mean? What is the story trying to teach us?
  • Heather dreams of meeting her alien friend again. What hopes and dreams do you have for the future? What could you do to try and achieve them?

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