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Reading Non-Fiction: Comparing Book Excerpts

In this worksheet, students develop an ability to select, compare and summarise information from different texts and use it to form their own ideas, arguments and opinions.

'Reading Non-Fiction: Comparing Book Excerpts' worksheet

Key stage:  KS 4

Curriculum topic:  Reading

Curriculum subtopic:  Make Critical Text Comparisons

Difficulty level:  

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Worksheet Overview

QUESTION 1 of 10

In an English exam you may be asked to study book excerpts.

We are going to look at two book excerpts and then practise analysis and comparison of their content in this worksheet.

Before you complete this worksheet you should have already completed "Reading Non-fiction Texts: Chilean Miner Rescue" and "Reading Non-Fiction Texts: Lifeboat Rescue".

Part of your exam requires you to compare different pieces of non-fiction based on the same theme. The theme of this worksheet series is rescue.

Read the following excerpts until you feel that you have fully understood them.


Lost

Two survivors of a plane crash high in the South American mountains set out on foot to find rescue help for themselves and their companions

When they started off again at dawn Cortez kept the pace up, energised by the desire to reach the end of the gorge. Steiger lagged behind. The night's rest had not returned his strength. When Cortez asked him to hurry up he complained loudly that he was tired and needed to stop.

They continued nonetheless, and eventually the dull sound of their boots in the snow, the only sound that could be heard, was killed by a thunderous noise which increased in intensity as they reached the end. They were gripped by panic. What if an unforgiving rapid hindered their way? Cortez raced ahead, consumed with the desire to see what was in front of them. His pace quickened rapidly and the gaps between his footprints in the snow lengthened. "You'll hurt yourself," Steiger called after him, but he was also driven forward less by curiosity that by the terror of what they might see.

Cortez was a hundred metres ahead when he suddenly found himself at the end of the gorge.
The landscape in front of him was of the Garden of Eden. The snow disappeared. From under the white blanket a fast-flowing torrent of water raced into another gorge, tumbling over boulders and rocks to the east. And there was further beauty as he looked beyond at patches of greenery: moss, gorse, rushes and grass interspersed with blue and red blossom.

As Cortez surveyed the landscape, tears trickled down his face. When Steiger reached him, he too sighed with amazement and happiness.

Then they stumbled forward onto the rocks and sat by the river. They rested in the sun for hours. The birds that had been absent for so long flitted around the riverbank, seemingly unalarmed by the unusual sight of two filthy, bearded and skeletal beings, bodies puffed out by multiple layers of filthy clothes, rucksacks clinging between narrowed shoulders, their faces red and cruelly weathered.

They were now sure that they were saved, but they still had to keep going.

They advanced farther down the side of the gorge. The going was rough and tiresome as they had to climb rocks bigger than armchairs. They were brought to a halt suddenly by a rocky, impassable outcrop which rose up high above them. The more even ground on the other side of the river prompted them to cross through the raging torrent rather than climb the obstacle in front of them, braving the boulders that the ferocious river forced along its path.

 

Class Lifesaving



"I'm drowning, help me!" a twelve-year-old girl shouts to her friend. Fortunately, the friend knows that he must instantly call a lifeguard who rushes to the scene, ready to assist.

Happily, the incident is not in real-life on a beach. In reality, we're miles away from the sea. We're in an inner-city school where the young people are role-playing scenes as part of the Lifeguard's Beach to City project.

The project is based in urban regions and is intended to teach children who don't live by the sea. The lifeguards tour such areas to educate children about the hazards of the seaside and how to protect themselves from trouble. It targets primary pupils. Those children living far from the coast in towns and cities have been identified as a higher risk group who are less aware of the lifeguard's work.

Each team in the Beach to City project consists of an acting RNLI lifeguard and a beach safety supervisor. The task is not easy. Within 40 minutes they must put across key safety messages for the beach that the children will absorb. The sessions are intended to be enjoyable and memorable with plenty of role-playing and new equipment to handle.

The sessions start with an introduction to lifeguarding and the lifeguard service. The pupils learn where the lifeguards can be found and how to identify them. Beach safety messages come next. Firstly, protection against the sun: wear a T-shirt, don a hat, splat on the sun cream. Secondly, beach flags and what they mean. A few children have significant knowledge of the flag system, though some think the red flag means there's a shark about, not just dangerous waters! Toy inflatable boats represent a real threat to beach users that sharks don't, and the Beach to City project provides a guideline on their use as a key message.

"In North Cornwall there were many days where most of our work involved saving children in drifting inflatables", said Brian Worth, a beach safety supervisor.

The sessions also cover the use of public rescue equipment (PRE), particularly in areas like Birmingham which has many canals. Teaching respect for equipment such as life-rings, throw lines and emergency communications is as important as how to use it. In London, the Beach to City project visited 30 schools to deliver PRE advice to children.

In 2014 the Lifeguard Education Team plans to expand to a fifth city on the project tour, and to add further cities in the years to come.

 

Next we will go through some questions on the above excerpts. You can refer back to them at any time by clicking on the Help button.

From the first excerpt, explain in detail the difference between the two characters' thoughts and feelings at the start of their walk.

What did they think and feel after they heard the thunderous noise?

What did they think and feel when they reached the next gorge?

What attitude did they now have to their situation?

What main differences and similarities can you find in the approach to writing in the two pieces?

Describe in detail how one of the authors makes full use of juxtaposition in his writing, placing contrasting ideas, thought and experiences to engage the reader's empathy and increase understanding of the characters' plight?

Explain in detail how one writer uses emotive language to create a sense of drama.

Explain in detail the author's use of imagery in "Lost".

Describe the different language features used in "Class Lifesaving".

Describe and give details of the tone in "Class Lifesaving".

  • Question 1

From the first excerpt, explain in detail the difference between the two characters' thoughts and feelings at the start of their walk.

CORRECT ANSWER
EDDIE SAYS
Both characters are anxious to find a way out of their situation and set off at dawn.(one mark) Cortez is spurred on by his desperate desire to reach the end of the valley and races ahead.(two marks)
Steiger feels tired and lacks strength, and although he wants to keep going, feels he needs to stop.(two marks) As a result of this contrast Cortez is impatient and asks him to hurry up.(two marks)
Steiger complains loudly in return, as if at the end of his tether and reaching despair.(two marks)
  • Question 2

What did they think and feel after they heard the thunderous noise?

CORRECT ANSWER
EDDIE SAYS
When they heard the noise they panicked because it might mean bad news for them; possibly an obstacle to their attempt to get out lay ahead of them.(two marks) Cortez moved quickly forward in his anxiety to find out the source of the noise and its implications.(two marks)
Steiger was worried that Cortez might endanger himself in his haste and called out to him.(two marks) He too continued on, driven by the fear of what might emerge rather than curiosity.(two marks)
  • Question 3

What did they think and feel when they reached the next gorge?

CORRECT ANSWER
EDDIE SAYS
Cortez was amazed and relieved when he saw the next gorge, reaching the end of the snow, and "tears trickled down his face". After so long in the white snow, the uncovered, multi-coloured landscape seemed beautiful.(two marks) To him, the sight was like the Garden of Eden.(one mark) Steiger was also amazed, relieved and happy.(two marks)
  • Question 4

What attitude did they now have to their situation?

CORRECT ANSWER
EDDIE SAYS
The relief at finding the green gorge released the tension of the previous hours and they rested.(two marks)
They realised that they would be saved, but they would have to travel on further and keep going to be fully rescued.(two marks)
  • Question 5

What main differences and similarities can you find in the approach to writing in the two pieces?

CORRECT ANSWER
EDDIE SAYS
The two pieces of writing are based on the theme of rescue, but are from different genres.(two marks) One is autobiographical; the other is a news report.(two marks)
In the autobiographical excerpt the author tries to convey more about the emotions and thoughts of the men having this experience.(two marks) In the news article the author reports on facts and evidence rather than about feelings.(two marks)
  • Question 6

Describe in detail how one of the authors makes full use of juxtaposition in his writing, placing contrasting ideas, thought and experiences to engage the reader's empathy and increase understanding of the characters' plight?

CORRECT ANSWER
EDDIE SAYS
In "Lost" there are many contrasts.(one mark) The attitudes of Cortez and Steiger to the walk are quite different. One is eager to forge ahead to reach safety and moves quickly; the other is tired and struggling to continue.(two marks) The near silence of the snow contrasts with the thunderous noise of the river.(two marks) Whilst in the first three paragraphs we are aware of a struggle through a monotonous, white landscape, there is a stark contrast in the description of the land that ultimately emerges from under the white blanket, full of greenery and blossoms, and animated by birds that had been absent in the stark snow.(three marks)
There is also a contrast in the fact that the men firstly rest when they realise they have reached the end and are saved, but get going again because there is still a hard walk and difficulties ahead of them.(four marks)
  • Question 7

Explain in detail how one writer uses emotive language to create a sense of drama.

CORRECT ANSWER
EDDIE SAYS
In "Lost" there are many example of this, whilst "Class Lifesaving" is more detached and objective. "They were gripped by panic", "consumed by desire" and "driven forward less by curiosity than by the terror" when they heard the noise. (one mark)
The author also describes the impact of these feelings on the characters' behaviour; Cortez "raced ahead", "his pace quickened rapidly", and Steiger was "driven forward". (one mark)
When they reach the new gorge, "tears trickled down his face", and Steiger "sighed with amazement and happiness". The word "saved" in the separated paragraph provides an emotional contrast with the word "lost" in the title. (one mark)
  • Question 8

Explain in detail the author's use of imagery in "Lost".

CORRECT ANSWER
EDDIE SAYS
There are many vivid ideas and images in "Lost". The description allows us to imagine the contrast between the snow and the "Garden of Eden" that appears at the end of it.(two marks)
The power of the river contrasts with the peace of the riverbank with its blossoms and birds.(two marks)
The author also builds an image of how the men appeared after their ordeal when they rest on the riverbank, "filthy, bearded and skeletal human beings", "filthy clothes", "narrowed shoulders", "faces red and cruelly weathered".(three marks)
When they continue on we are given a strong sense of the landscape and their task in moving through it, as they have to climb rocks as big as armchairs, and face "a rocky, impassable outcrop which rose high above them".(two marks)
When they decide to cross the river we understand that this too will be difficult, possibly dramatic and full of danger since they will be "braving the boulders that the ferocious river forced along its path".(two marks)
  • Question 9

Describe the different language features used in "Class Lifesaving".

CORRECT ANSWER
EDDIE SAYS
The title uses the word "class" as a pun: in schools children are in class, but class also means something of quality, indicating that these are lifesaving lessons of a high standard.(two marks)
The piece opens with direct speech and a cry for help, engaging the reader's attention and providing a sense of drama.(two marks)
The purpose of the lessons and the article is to provide information. The lessons "target primary school children" in "urban regions" who are "a higher risk group".(two marks)
To support its explanation, the article provides facts and figures, such as describing the structure of the lesson, and formal titles are used such as Beach to City Project.(two marks)
  • Question 10

Describe and give details of the tone in "Class Lifesaving".

CORRECT ANSWER
EDDIE SAYS
Although it has a serious overall purpose in conveying information, the piece has a light and humourous tone in places, including the pun in the title.(three marks)
Whilst the first paragraph draws the reader in with "I'm drowning, help me", the second paragraph then explains that it is role-playing that is going on, rather than a real-life situation as the reader might first have imagined.(three marks)
Some of the children think the red beach flag indicates that sharks are present.(two marks) This is placed next to information that drifting toy inflatables are a much more real danger than sharks, and the humour helps to emphasise the point.(two marks)
In the final paragraph we return to serious informative writing once more with factual details about PRE equipment and the project's plans for expansion.(two marks)
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