Tadpole’s Promise – A Tragedy

I have enjoyed watching teachers’ faces as they read Tadpole’s Promise by Tony Ross and Jeanne Willis. Usually they are shocked as the book lulls us into a false sense of security thinking that there is a happy ending. Even the bubbles on the front cover lead us this way.   But in a tragedy, of course, there isn’t a happy ending.

tadpole In this story Caterpillar and Tadpole meet and fall in love and promise never to change which of course sets up the whole story as all children know that both will.  It is these changes that lead to a tragedy for both but in different ways.

Christopher Booker’s description of  tragedy is:

  1. The hero looks for something.  He finds it and focuses his energy on it.
  2. He aims for this thing and all seems well.
  3. Things start to go wrong and may begin to behave darkly.
  4. Things start to slip out of control badly.
  5. The hero is destroyed.

One of the discussions the book can lead us to is that there is more than one story in here.  There is the story of the caterpillar and of the tadpole.  When using the blueprint it is important that you decide who the hero is.  This is not hero in the sense of having super powers and saving all – rather the main character that you want to follow.

Other blueprints:

Overcoming the monster, rags to riches, voyage and return and comedy.

Have you shared these patterns with children?

6 thoughts on “Tadpole’s Promise – A Tragedy

  1. This is one of my favourite books and I too love to watch adults’ faces as they read it for the first time.

    It is also a favourite of my class as they love the fact that the ending is non-traditional.

    Highly recommend all to read it!

    • Great to find someone else who loves it. I use it as often as I can get away with. I have never found children to be as shocked as adults.

  2. I love it too and have shared it with many classes. My favourite recollection was of using it with a Y3/4 class who loved it, as did their teacher. I then went off to work with 2 nursery groups and by the time I made it to the staff room for lunch it had worked its way around the staff! I also love using Jeanne Willis’s Daft bat but for different reasons.

    • Nicola, I don’t know Daft Bat. Will have to have a quick read next time I am in the centre. Amazon are making a fortune out of me!

  3. I want to use this with year 3 in a small 20 minute lit observation possibly using think pair, share….any good discussions I could link it to?

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