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Anthony Legon


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Alex Francis


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A Writing Root for Tadpole's Promise

£5.00 (inc. VAT)

KS: R & KS1

Year Group: Year 2

Literary Theme: Change & Relationships

Author(s): Jeanne Willis


Simple explanations, speech bubbles, setting descriptions, thought bubbles

Main Outcome:

Own version narrative / extended explanation


15 sessions, 3 weeks

Overview and Outcomes:

This is a three-week Writing Root for Tadpole’s Promise by Jeanne Willis and Tony Ross. To begin with, children write their own promises on lily pads to float in their class pond and record a simple explanation of a process of change they are familiar with.  Children go on to re-enact sections of the story and consider the thoughts of the characters at certain points.  This is in preparation for them to plan and write their own version of the narrative using characters of their choice (who also meet a grizzly ending!).  Using information from the text children also create an explanation text in leaflet form to outline the stages in the lifecycle of a frog.  It may be useful to ensure other books about changes are available, e.g. Changes by Anthony Browne and, if possible, have tadpoles in or near the classroom to observe their changes.

Synopsis of Text:

Tadpole loves his rainbow friend, the caterpillar, and she tells him she loves everything about him. "Promise that you will never change," she says. But as the seasons pass and he matures, his legs grow, and then his arms - and what happens to his beautiful rainbow friend? As he sits on his lily pad, digesting a butterfly, Tadpole little realises that now he will never know! Follow the predictable changes of a tadpole and a caterpillar to their natural conclusion in this award winning picture book.

Text Rationale:

This lyrical tale tells the love story between a tadpole and a caterpillar. It has strong links to science and life cycles as well as being an allegory for how people and relationships inevitably change over time. There is certainly a cautionary note struck during the final twist of this tale. This text won the Nestle Smarties Book Prize Silver Award in 2003 as well as being longlisted for the Kate Greenaway Award. Jeanne Willis is an award-winning and prolific author and Tony Ross has illustrated many well-known books.

Links and themes:

Life-cycles, habitats, species, explanations, relationships, change, science, animals and their habitats

Date written: July 2014          Updated: March 2021

A Spelling Seed is available for Tadpole's Promise.

Spelling Seed Overview:


This is a three-session spelling seed for the book Tadpoles Promise by Jeanne Willis.  Below is the coverage from Appendix 1 of the National Curriculum 2014.

Spelling Seeds have been designed to complement Writing Roots by providing weekly, contextualised sequences of sessions for the teaching of spelling that include open-ended investigations and opportunities to practise and apply within meaningful and purposeful contexts, linked (where relevant) to other areas of the curriculum and a suggestion of how to extend the investigation into home learning.

There is a Spelling Seed session for every week of the associated Writing Root.


Common Exception Words

beautiful, both, break, mind, old, only, prove, sure, told, wild

Spelling Rules and Patterns

The /aɪ/ sound spelt –y at the end of words

The suffixes –ment, –ness, –ful , –less and –ly

View Tadpole's Promise Spelling Seed

A Home Learning Branch is available for Tadpole's Promise.

Home Learning Branch Overview:

This is a Home Learning Branch for Tadpole's Promise.  These branches are designed to support home learners to access literature-based learning using a selection of books we love from Writing Roots.  They include purposeful writing suggestions, links to the wider curriculum so that texts can be used across other subjects, key questions as well as spelling or phonics investigations.

View Tadpole's Promise Home Learning Branch

Literary Leaves within the same Literary Theme

The Literacy Tree®, Literary Leaves®, Spelling Seeds®, Home Learning Branches® and #TeachThroughaText® are all Registered Trademarks of The Literacy Tree Ltd.
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