Anthony and the Gargoyle
About the author
Jo Ellen Bogart is a US and Canadian author. She grew up in San Antonio and Dallas but now lives in Ontario, Canada. Her website says, ‘Part of the fun Jo Ellen has in writing books for children is venturing into many different kinds of writing, from poetry and picture books to biography, non-fiction, and early readers.’ She has expanded that range to include the wordless picturebook, Anthony and the Gargoyle.
About the illustrator
Maja Kastelic received a BA in painting from the University of Ljubljana’s Academy of Fine Arts and Design and studied philosophy and theory of visual culture at the University of Primorska. She restored frescoes before becoming a children’s book author and illustrator.
About the book
Anthony wakes up one morning to find his favourite rock has cracked open – and it’s hollow! He discovers a strange-looking hatchling inside, and the two become fast friends. When Anthony asks his mother where the rock came from, she shows him photos from their trip to Paris, including of Notre-Dame cathedral, with its familiar-looking forms perched on top. Could Anthony’s new friend be a gargoyle?
This magical wordless story has beautifully painted scenes of Anthony’s home and breathtaking views of Paris. Themes include friendship and letting the things you love go so that they can find their place in the world. The book offers children the experience of discovering Paris through Anthony’s eyes, and there are plenty of opportunities for creative exploration.
This wordless book can be read during the sessions. The book can be sent home between sessions for children to discuss with adults and siblings at home. (After week 2)
<kv>Please do not share the book with the children before the first session, as you will look at some context to support the first reading. Reading ahead would spoil some of the activities that we have prepared. Books can be taken home after the second session.</kv>
In this session, we will focus on the first part of the story. From the beginning of the book to the arival of a letter through the letterbox, To being, it will be helpful to share knowledge of what a ‘gargoyle’ is and any instances of gargoyles that children have come across either through reading, films or perhaps games.
<kv> Do not share the book jacket until after the first activity </kv>
A Boy and his Gargoyle
Before sharing the book jacket, write the word gargoyle on the board or use the slideshow. It is an unusual-looking word. Pronounce the word and then ask the children to say it with you.
- Has anyone heard this word before?
- Do you know what a gargoyle is? (Children who have seen the Harry Potter films or had the books read to them may have encountered gargoyles in that series. They may also be familiar with the Walt Disney televised cartoon series, Gargoyles.)
- Does it sound funny, pleasant, ugly, cheerful? (Sometimes, the sounds of words reflect their meaning. Inviting children to consider this is interesting, though they may not all agree on the feelings communicated by the sound of a particular word. For me, gargoyle does sound humorous, and words with a hard ‘g’ like Gollum, ungainly and ugly, have an awkward feel. Tolkien knew what he was doing when he named Bilbo’s antagonist in The Hobbit.
Share the gargoyles slideshow with the group.
Slide 1 Disney Gargoyles
These Gargoyles are under an enchantment. They have spent a thousand years petrified (turned to stone). In the series, they move from medieval Scotland to modern-day New York, where they become the city’s nighttime protectors. In the daylight, they are turned to stone.
Slide 2 Hogwarts Gargoyle
Gargoyles are stone creatures that are used to guard rooms in Hogwarts. There is one that stands outside the headmaster’s office and only lets people enter if they have the correct password.
Slide 3 Gargoyle at York Minster
But did you know – gargoyles can be found all around us? Often on old buildings, especially churches like this one.
Slide 4 Gargoyle in Oxford
And this one can be seen in Oxford. You might be able to find a gargoyle close to where you live if there are old buildings. You will need to look up to see them. Not all gargoyles are monsters. You might find animals and humans too.
Slide 5 Why are gargoyles there?
Well, the gargoyles have one main purpose. You might notice that gargoyles usually have an open mouth. Don’t stand underneath one when it is raining heavily because all the water on the roof of that building will be channelled through the gargoyles mouth like a waterspout.
Slide 6 Scary gargoyles
Some gargoyles were meant to be scary. Does this monster found in a building in Monreal, Canada, scare you? But some gargoyles were funny.
Slide 6 The gargoyles of Notre Dame
Some of the most famous gargoyles in the world are on the roof of Notre-Dame cathedral in Paris. It used to be possible to walk along the gallery of gargoyles on the rooftop, but the cathedral is currently being repaired after a big fire.
Now share the full title of the book and the book jacket, Anthony and the Gargoyles and say, I wonder what the gargoyle in this story will get up to. I wonder if it will be a scary gargoyle or not?
Invite the children to tell you what they can see. If needed, use some supplementary prompts:
- Where are the characters standing?
- What can you see just on the edges of the page – what do you think is outside the picture?
- Can you tell from this picture how the characters feel about each other? What clues help you think that?
You don’t want the children to go beyond the page with the letter posted through the letter box. You can either use a paper clip to secure the pages or simply tell the children the point you are going to read up to and aks them not to flick ahead,
Distribute copies of the book. Explain that the book is called a wordless book as it has no text to tell the story. The story is told entirely with pictures.
You are going to take the group on a ‘picture walk’ through the book.
This simple strategy is a perfect first encounter and is intended to spark the children’s interest. It is a preview of what the children will read independently. It’s particularly useful for this graphic style picture book which has lots of images on a page, which require careful attention to ascertain what is going on and infer the relationship between Anthony and his mother, and Anthony and the gargoyle.
As you turn the pages, talk about them. briefly posing questions and pondering as you walk through. Use speculative rather than interrogative language. I wonder… is a good opener to use. For instance:
- I wonder who that is in the picture?
- who lives in this house?
- I wonder who the old lady in that photo is.
- Oh, I think I have seen that building before… (photo of the Eiffel Tower)
- Do we know what the boy’s name is?
- I wonder what that is on his bedside table.
- What is the gargoyle doing with the toy boat?
- What is Anthony’s mother showing him?
Don’t spend too long on each page, as the children will revisit the book and can spend time looking at the details. Just gently point out some of the details that they might return to,
Returning to the Text
Working in pairs, have the children re-read this part of the book. Allow them to do this in their own way. They do not need to ‘tell the story.’ It can be interesting to see how they approach the text. Most are likely to point things out to each other and explain what is going on rather than narrate. This is the way most readers would approach this type of story. The time that different pairs take is likely to vary. Some may whizz through, and others may want to discuss the minutiae. As a group leader, try not to insert yourself into the conversation at this point. Rather observe the children and listen for interesting things that they notice. Make notes so you can refer to them when you gather the group.
Gather the group and first establish a literal understanding. Ask the children to tell you the important things in the story. (not the details)
It appears that Anthony has a stone on his bedside table, which turns out to be an egg.
- The gargoyle has hatched from the egg.
- Anthony searches for the gargoyle – but the gargoyle seems to be very shy.
- Gradually Anthony makes friends with the Gargoyle.
- He talks to his mother… do we think he has told her?
- The next day she shows him a book – what kind of book is it? (a photograph album)
- What do Anthony and the gargoyle do together next?
- And then.., comes a letter.
Clearly, this letter is going to be important. What could be in the letter? We will have to wait until next week to find out.
Start by giving the children a few minutes to refresh their memories of the story by looking through the section you have already read. They could do this by asking the children to work with a different partner. Different children will likely spot different things, giving them access to alternative ways of looking at the book.
- Do you have any questions about the story based on what you have read so far?
Questions need to be authentic rather than generated for the sake of asking questions. Much better to have a couple of genuine questions than a long list.
- Are there any questions that we can already answer? Revisit the book and clarify as needed inviting the children to help you clear up any possible confusion.
- Are there any questions that we might find the answer to as we read on? Mark these questions with a symbol – a coloured dot or tick, for example. Retain the list for later.
Background Knowledge: Paris.
In this section of the story, Anthony and his gargoyle friend visit Paris with Anthony’s parents.
Refer to the photo album that Anthony’s mother shares with him. Look carefully, what can you see on the cover? The children may not know but this is the famous rose window of Notre Dame cathedra,