Understanding Novels / Chapter Books with SGM — Part 5

The Big Wave Book CoverThis next section of analysis of The Big Wave by Pearl Buck begins with personification of the sea and extends the overall themes of friendship, resilience, overcoming obstacles and gratitude leading to new beginnings. The Critical Thinking Triangle® and the Complete Episode maps of the Story Grammar Marker® assist students in qualitative analysis of the plot to form opinions and apply the themes to their own lives.

Expand the Kick-Off MapPages 15-22: Through personification, the sea is described as cruel and angry. These pages contain the steps leading up to the kick-off of the first major episode in the novel. The expandable Get Ready for the Kick-Off map from Talk to Write, Write to Learn manual would be useful here showing that there is evidence that something is happening. To those who watch and learn (fathers and sons in this novel), this information is vital to survival.

Page 21 describes the sequence of steps leading to the earthquake under the sea. Read this section.

“The earth had yielded at last to the fire. It groaned and split open and the cold water fell into the middle of the boiling rocks. Steam burst out and lifted the ocean high into the sky in a big wave. It rushed toward the shore, green and solid, frothing into white at its edges. It rose, higher and higher, lifting up hands and claws…The air was filled with its roar and shout…”

Continue reading to the bottom of page 22. (Above, notice the italicized details showing the figurative language form of personification.)

This sequence of steps shows the students that a Kick-Off is not simply a happening or a problem but that it may have warning signs, details to observe that lead to the exact moment a Kick-Off occurs.


On page 5, a character known as the Old Gentleman is introduced. He lives in a castle on the island and is seen as benevolent, caring for the welfare of the fishing village and the farming community on the island. Pages 15-22 describe the flag of warning and the deep-toned bell that tolled over the hills as warning of the Big Wave. Since the old Gentleman lives high atop the mountain, his castle would be safe and could be a safe haven for the village and farm inhabitants if they heed his warning and come to the castle.

Use a Critical Thinking Triangle (The “Connector” from Talk to Write, Write to Learn is shown below) to map the feelings and thoughts of the Old Gentleman at this time of crisis. The Kick-Off is the crisis!

Critical Thinking Triangle

  • The Big Wave is approaching!
  • Fear for the inhabitants
  • Thoughts: He knows he can save many if they heed his signals. He realizes many will not leave their homes and boats. He remembers the past two times he has had to warn, and what happened.
  • Plan: He will signal with the flag and bell and hope inhabitants will come to the castle to be saved.

Maryellen Rooney Moreau
Maryellen Rooney Moreau

Author

Maryellen Rooney Moreau, M.Ed., CCC-SLP, is founder of MindWing Concepts. She earned her University of Massachusetts at Amherst Bachelor of Arts degree in Communication Disorders at University of Massachusetts at Amherst with Departmental Honors and her Master’s of Education degree in Communication Disorders at Pennsylvania State University. Her forty-year professional career includes: school-based SLP, college professor, diagnostician, and Coordinator of Intervention Curriculum and Professional Development for children with language learning disabilities. She designed the Story Grammar Marker® and has been awarded two United States Patents. She has written more than 15 publications and developed more than 40 hands-on tools based on the SGM® methodology. Maryellen was awarded the 2014 Alice H. Garside Lifetime Achievement Award from the International Dyslexia Association, Massachusetts Branch.



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