Logo Title Quebec Reading Connection

Way Home

Hathorn, Libby (Author)
Rogers, Gregory (Illustrator)
Andersen Press 2003. 32 pages
First published: 1994
ISBN: 9781842702321 (paperback)
Original language: English
Book type: Picture Book

Text Elements:

character, multimodal, point of view, setting

Award

Kate Greenaway Medal – 1994

Reading Range

 
Cycle
Elementary
Secondary
 
1
2
3
1
2
ELA
K
1
2
3
4
5
6
1
2
3
4
5
ESL
1
2
3
4
5
6
1
2
3
4
5
ESL Intensive & Enriched
5
6
1
2
3
4
5

Description:

Shane gathers up a stray kitten to bring it home. As the story’s potent language unfolds, readers begin to suspect ‘home’ may be a poor thing. This compelling tale deftly builds, from the kitten’s perspective and Shane’s scattershot chatter, “Get away! Go! To a large lit up street.… Right to an edge of a wide shiny river of cars. ‘Hold tight, Kittycat, while I scare this lot.’”

Through dark, atmospheric images, Shane is depicted as both protector and hunted weakling. In one image, light falls on the kitten nestled in his jacket. Subsequent scenes show his tattered sneakers and his flight through back alleys and heavy traffic.

An indoor cat (“Fatcat”), luxury cars (“Vroom vroom. You and me in a Jag”) and empty high-rises (“They’re to look at I guess”) are forceful symbols of society’s inequity, while Shane’s spunky nature is conveyed by his commentary on it all.

In a poignant finish, Shane offers soothing words to the kitten (and himself): “No dogs, I promise. No fights.… It’s okay now. You’re safe.” The final image shows a tiny hovel, warmed by newspaper rugs and Shane’s drawings on the walls. “We’re home!”

  •  

    Browse a few pages. What do you think the “home,” as referred to in the title, will be? Reflect on and revise your prediction as you read.

  •  

    Notice the names Shane has for the cat. Make inferences about the meaning of the names he calls him throughout the story.

  •  

    Use a graphic organizer to record what you learn about Shane. Based on that information, add ideas about what you wonder and infer about his life.

  •  

    Most of the illustrations are dark, but occasionally the illustrator uses warm, yellow light. Discuss the significance of this design choice.

  •  

    Write a related poem or short story from the point of view of the cat.

  •  

    Read the illustrations in concert with the text and discuss the codes of visual texts (use of line, colour, layout, subject, point of view) and the way they relate to the narrative.

  •  

    In small groups, discuss the use of perspective. How does the narrative style impact meaning? Consider the relationship between the text and images. Does the text support or contradict the image?

  •  

    Following small group discussions, write a response. Consider the written text as well as the illustrations, page layout and design elements.

  •  

    Brainstorm the meaning of home. In small groups, construct a definition.

  •  

    On a picture walk, make predictions for the story. As you go, discuss the setting.

  •  

    During the read-aloud, discuss the role of the boy called Shane. Why do you think he is referred as such? What is the cat’s role? Why do you think the pages look like they are torn?

  •  

    Compare your definition of home with Shane’s.

  •  

    Research homelessness in your area. What do you find surprising? Compare what you find with what is presented in the story.

  •  

    Read the title and the first two-page spread. Using the text and visual clues, make predictions about the story. Why is the text written white on black, on what looks to be torn paper? Discuss your predictions and hypotheses both before and after reading.

  •  

    As you read, plot Shane’s changing emotions on graph paper. What conclusions can you draw about this homeless boy? How do you connect with these emotions? Did anything surprise you?

  •  

    Why might someone be homeless? What organizations in your town or city help the homeless and other less fortunate people? Create posters for your school promoting local volunteer organizations to help those in need.

  • To construct his/her identity
  • To cooperate with others
  • To exercise critical judgment
  • To use creativity
  • Citizenship and Community Life
  • Health and Well-Being
  • Ethics and Religious Culture
  • Personal Development