Esio Trot

Credit: Bibo Bergeron


  • Describe the lady (Mrs Silver). Consider her appearance and her personality/character.
  • How does she feel about the tortoise (Alfie)? How do you know?
  • Why do you think she feels like this? What’re the good things about tortoises?
  • Do you think Mrs Silver is a good pet owner?
  • Compare Mrs Silver and Alfie to yesterday’s image (Man’s Best Friend). Who do you think loves their pet the most? Why?


Reading comprehension and writing focus:
Esio Trot by Roald Dahl

(click to download)


  • In ‘Esio Trot’, Mrs Silver wishes that Alfie would grow.


“I do so wish he would grow a little faster,” Mrs Silver was saying. “Every spring, when he wakes up from his winter sleep, I weigh him on the kitchen scales. And do you know that in all the eleven years I’ve had him he’s not gained more than three ounces! That’s almost nothing!”


  • Why do you think Mrs Silver wishes that Alfie would grow faster?
  • What does she mean by ‘his winter sleep’?


“What does he weigh now?” Mr Hoppy asked her.
“Just thirteen ounces,” Mrs Silver answered. “About as much as a grapefruit.”


  • Why does Mrs Silver say ‘just’ thirteen ounces?


“Yes, well, tortoises are very slow growers,” Mr Hoppy said solemnly. “But they can live for a hundred years.”


  • What does ‘solemnly’ mean? Why did Mr Hoppy speak in this way?


“I know that,” Mrs Silver said. “But I do so wish he would grow just a little bit bigger. He’s such a tiny wee fellow.”
“He seems fine as he is,” Mr Hoppy said.
“No, he’s not just fine!” Mrs Silver cried. “Try to think how miserable it must make him feel to be so titchy! Everyone wants to grow up!”


  • Do you think Alfie really is miserable about being so small? Can tortoises feel misery? Are they aware of their size? How would Alfie know that he was small if he’d never met any other tortoises?


“You really would love him to grow bigger, wouldn’t you?” Mr Hoppy said, and even as he said it his mind suddenly went click and an amazing idea came rushing into his head.


  • What do you think Mr Hoppy’s idea is? Talk/write/draw it.
  • What do you predict will happen next in the story?
  • Imagine that you’re an inventor. What would you create to help Alfie grow faster? Is it a gadget, or a special potion, or perhaps a magic spell? Plan (and – if appropriate – make a model of) your invention and explain how it works.
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