Splidge needs a job urgently. He is only twelve, but if he cannot find employment, he will be sent to the dreaded workhouse. The Royal Tournament takes place every six years. It is the national sport of Gud and King Guddamac is depending on it to save his Kingdom from rack and ruin.
The Royal Cragflinger has died and the competition cannot take place without another one, so the King has a vacancy. But someone has a plan to scupper the Tournament and an evil scheme to ‘improve’ the City forever.
Teaching Ideas and Resources:
- Before reading the book, discuss the title. Who is Splidge? What is a cragflinger?
- Read the blurb on the back of the book to find out more about the story. What questions do you now have about the characters, setting or plot?
- Read the Prologue and make a list of things that you know about the story so far? and things that you would like to know. Is this a good start to the story? Does it make you want to read on? Why?
- Write a prequel in which Splidge has another adventure before the events of this story.
- Retell part of the story from Splidge’s point of view. Listen to this audio podcast that is narrated by Splidge:
- What kind of place is Gud? What words and phrases does the author use to describe it?
- There are lots of wonderful descriptions in the story. Can you find any similes / metaphors that describe the characters and locations? Could you use some of these in your own writing?
- Retell the story (or part of it) from Splidge’s point of view. What would he write in a diary about the things that happened to him?
- Pause the story at different points and think of questions that you would like to ask him. How might he respond?
- Think of some questions that the king should have asked Splidge during his interview for the role of cragflinger.
- Write a letter from Splidge to his family at the point when he first moves into the palace.
- In Chapter Four, Splidge is threatened and told to leave the City at once. What should he do? Make a list of pros and cons.
- Create a set of instructions to teach people how to fling a crag successfully.
- Create an invitation for the tournament.
- Imagine that you are Splidge, and you were sent to the ‘highest turret in the tallest tower’ of the castle. Describe what you can see, smell, taste, touch and hear.
- Create a biography for the main characters in the story.
- Write a newspaper article about one of the events in the story (e.g. the fire at the palace in chapter six). Look at these examples of the Guddian Times on the author’s website.
- Create a persuasive advertising campaign to encourage people to visit the Guddian funfair.
- Many of the chapters end with a ‘cliffhanger’. Can you choose one of them and write your own version of what might happen next?
- Retell the river rescue in chapter nine from Splidge’s point of view.
- Read the description of the Baron’s mansion in chapter twelve. How does the author describe it? Can you use some of the words and phrases in your own writing?
- The day of the Royal Tournament has arrived. Imagine that you are Splidge and write a diary entry from his point of view? Or could you create a TV / radio commentary or a newspaper report about the day?
- In chapter fifteen, the Crag gets trapped inside a barrel and is thrown into the river. Continue the story from this point, describing how it might escape and return to the Royal Tournament.
- Carry out some role-play activities in which you and some friends take the role of the main characters (i.e. Splidge, Snotty, Doreen, the King and the Baron). How do they feel at different points in the story? Why did they make particular choices?
- Create some character profiles. Look at these examples on the author’s website.
- Watch the video below and think of some questions that you would like to ask the author. You could also invite the author to give a workshop at your school.
- Learn more about the author’s writing process by watching this video:
- Create a report about crags. What is their habitat? What do they eat? What do they look like?
- Create a set of instructions to teach people how to look after a pet crag.
- In Chapter nine, a man called Mr Edison visits the King to talk to him about an ‘electric light bulb’. Can you find out more about this man? and about how light bulbs work?
- Draw a diagram that shows the forces taking place when throwing a crag.
- Design a healthy meal and exercise plan to help the King improve his fitness.
- Use publishing software to design the poster advertising the job that Splidge wants to get.
- Choose an interesting scene from the book and create an animation to bring it to life.
- Create a trailer to promote the book. Watch this example for inspiration:
- In chapter 1, Mr Wren tries to talk to the King about his plans to improve the City. Can you create some designs to show his improvements?
- Design an eye-catching outfit for the one of the guests to wear to the banquet in chapter six.
- Create some illustrations to show Splidge at different points in the story, e.g. when he first sees the advertisement, when he tries on his new clothes at the palace… Look at some of the author’s illustrations for inspiration.
- Using the description in the text, create your own illustration of a crag.
- Choose an exciting scene from the book and create a storyboard / comic strip that shows the main events.
- Can you compose a theme to announce the beginning of the Royal Tournament?
- Draw a map showing the locations of places mentioned in the story. Can you add labels / annotations to show the events that took place in each location?
- Find descriptions of the palace throughout the story. Which different parts are mentioned? Can you find examples of other castles / palaces that have similar features?
- There are lots of historical references throughout the book. Can you find out more about them?
- At twelve years old, the children of Gud are forced to join the workforce. If you lived there, what jobs would you be good at? What are your skills and talents?
- At the start of Chapter Four, Splidge remembers that he is no longer a child so he could stay up as late as he liked. What are the differences between childhood and adulthood? Which is better (and why)?