The Mystery of the Clockwork Sparrow by Katherine Woodfine

The Mystery of the Clockwork Sparrow

The Mystery of the Clockwork Sparrow is a detective story set in an Edwardian department store owned by and enigmatic New York millionaire called Edward Sinclair (think Mr Selfridge).

Left penniless when her father dies, Sophie is pleased to find a job in the millinery department of Sinclair’s, soon to be London’s largest and most glamorous department store. There, she makes friends with Billy a junior porter and beautiful Lil, who is one of the department store “manikins” by day and an aspiring actress by night.

A daring burglary, including the theft of the priceless Clockwork Sparrow plunges them all into an exciting adventure. The children will enjoy a rollercoaster of a ride as the characters attempt to crack codes, devour iced buns and bring the villains to justice….

This book is perfect for children who enjoy any of the following authors; Jacqueline Wilson, Chris Riddell, Enid Blyton and Robin Stevens.

Teaching Ideas:

Years 3-4

  • Create a storyboard for the children to complete looking at either a chapter or highlight key aspects that take place in the book.
  • Hot seat some of the characters within the book so that the children can ask questions and maybe gain clues to the mystery to aid them when writing the next part of the story.
  • Solve the crime. Introduce the children to key evidence, give them clues and in small groups they have to solve the case. You could make it like a game of Cluedo “who done it”.
  • Introduce an Art activity. Children select a character from the text and using key adjectives they must draw what they think the character would look like.
  • Similarly, to the Cluedo idea you could also play a Guess Who style format with the children in small groups. They are given six picture cards of the potential suspects to the robbery; each child in the group is given six cards they must select one card which the other children cannot see, then each child must write three to four sentences using adjectives to describe the picture and the other children must try to workout which card it is.

Years 4-5

  • Hot seat some of the characters within the book so that the children can ask questions and maybe gain clues to the mystery to aid them when writing the next part of the story. Whoever is playing the characters must choose effective word choices so the children can magpie the ideas to improve their writing.
  • Children to create a newspaper article (including headlines and sub-headings) to report the theft and the suspects. Key Information within the text must be stated in chronological order.
  • Design a wanted poster for the missing item which must include effective vocabulary (Adjectives, Adverbs etc). The Children must also draw a detailed picture of the missing item.
  • Drama games – Children are given parts from a chapter in the book and they have to act it out (possibly using the Anton drama masks).
  • Create a crime scene in the Classroom similar to that in the book and over the course of the lesson the children have to use the clues they have obtained to work out the culprit.
  • Crime Report – children use clues and witness statements to write up a factual report of the theft.

Nick Bensaid 

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