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Resource written by

Anthony Legon


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A Writing Root for The Sleeper and the Spindle

£5.00 (inc. VAT)

KS: Upper KS2

Year Group: Year 5

Literary Theme: Legends & Folklore

Author(s): Neil Gaiman


Warning poster, diary entry, dialogue, estate agent’s description, character description, missing narrative

Main Outcome:

Fairytale reworking (prequel or sequel)


17 sessions, 3+ weeks

Overview and Outcomes:

This is a 3+ week Writing Root using The Sleeper and the Spindle by Neil Gaiman and Chris Riddell in which children explore and discuss fairytales and how this fairytale subverts the genre. They go on to create a number of varied written outcomes using the text as a starting point including narratives, dialogue, character descriptions, setting descriptions (estate agents’ adverts), and diary entries before using the ideas and authorial devices identified within the text to plan, draft, edit and publish their own subverted fairytale using the idea of The Queen and the Glass Coffin to write a sequel.

Synopsis of Text:

Weaving together a sort-of Snow White and an almost Sleeping Beauty with a thread of dark magic, which will hold readers spellbound from start to finish.

On the eve of her wedding, a young queen sets out to rescue a princess from an enchantment. She casts aside her fine wedding clothes, takes her chain mail and her sword and follows her brave dwarf retainers into the tunnels under the mountain towards the sleeping kingdom. This queen will decide her own future - and the princess who needs rescuing is not quite what she seems. Twisting together the familiar and the new, this perfectly delicious, captivating and darkly funny tale shows its creators at the peak of their talents.

Text rationale:

Once again combining the magic of author Neil Gaiman and illustrator Chris Riddell, this text won the CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal upon its release in 2016.  Children’s understanding of traditional fairytales will be strengthened in studying this ‘subverted’ version of the genre which cleverly weaves together elements of other familiar stories. Featuring strong female protagonists, the story explores themes of empowerment, positive female representation and breaking free of social expectations. It will also provide a gateway for children to explore other traditional tales such as those by the Brothers Grimm. 

Links and themes:

Traditional tales, modern fairytales, fairy tales, twisted tales, female empowerment, strength, courage, bravery

Date written: March 2017

Literary Leaves within the same Literary Theme

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