The Character Collection

These are my favourite character images (it was a tough choice!) – use them to work on character description (including grammar objectives such as expanded noun phrases and relative clauses) or for character ideas for writing.

Try this activity – 20 questions to get to know a character – to fully explore and understand a character before writing.

THE JAR WIZARD

Credit: Sean Andrew Murray

 

Show the image without the title first.

  • Who do you think this is?
  • Why is he carrying all of those jars? What’s inside them? Why are they attached to his clothing? Couldn’t he just carry them in a bag?
  • Why is he wearing this clothing?
  • Is he going to open the blue jar? Why?
  • Why is his other fist clenched?
  • What does his body language tell you about his thoughts and feelings?
  • Choose 3 words to describe this character. Justify your choices and explain why your words are better than anyone else’s! [You could vote on the best words and debate why they are the best; repeat for the ‘worst’/least appropriate.]

Share the title.

  • Did you think that this man was a wizard? Why/why not?
  • Is he what you imagine a wizard should look like? Compare him with other wizards from literature.
  • Since he is a wizard, does that mean the contents of the jars are magical?
  • Does he need a magic wand?
  • Help! The Jar Wizard’s jars are all missing their labels! Please write labels naming the contents, detailing what it is and what it can be used for. Be sure to include any necessary safety warnings too!
  • Read this description of The Jar Wizard, written by Sean Andrew Murray himself:

He held many secrets in those enchanted jars of his: mysterious crystals, odd nick-knacks from unknown cultures, ancient coins from civilizations long dead, and the preserved remains of creatures believed to be long extinct. But there was one jar, smaller and rounder than the rest, that contained a dark liquid that he seemed most proud of. “This,” he said with an unsettling gleam in his eye, “is the blood of one of the Original Fish, the creators of all magic. I pray I never have cause to use it….”

  • Have you learnt anything else about The Jar Wizard?
  • What happens if he uses the blood of one of the Original Fish?
  • What does ‘I pray I never have cause to use it…’ mean? What does it tell you about the substance?

ROOM

Credit: Anthony Browne
From Gorilla, 1983

 

  • What do you notice about this room? What is familiar to you? What is unexpected or unfamiliar?
  • What has happened to the wallpaper?
  • What is the girl doing?
  • What is she watching? Is she enjoying it?
  • Why isn’t there any other furniture in the room?
  • Why is there only a small patch of light?
  • Does she live here? Who with?
  • Is she happy?

THE ROBOT MAKER

Credit: Goro Fujita

 

  • What does this robot do?
  • Is the man building it or repairing it?
  • How does he feel about it? Is this one special?
  • Do you think he’s been a robot maker for a long time?
  • Is he good at his job?
  • What kind of person do you think he is? What are his likes/dislikes? Do you think he prefers to be around people, or be alone? Get in role as this man and answer these questions: 20 questions to get to know a character. Try to explain each choice you make.

THE LADY’S TREASURE

Credit: Daniela Volpari

 

  • Who is this woman?
  • What do you know about her? What can you infer?
  • How old is she? Where is she from? What has her life been like?
  • Why is she looking back (without turning around)?
  • Would you trust her?
  • Where did the treasure chest come from?
  • Does it belong to her?
  • What is she going to do with the treasure?
  • How will she stop someone else stealing it?

CLIFF

Credit: Matt Dixon

 

  • Meet Cliff. What would you say to him? What might he say to you?
  • What is Cliff like (his personality, his voice, his behaviour)?
  • What does Cliff enjoy doing? Does he like to travel? Does he have any friends?
  • Has Cliff changed over time?/How was Cliff created? [link to Science/rocks]
  • What events has Cliff seen? [link to History]
  • Why is Cliff a good name for this character?
  • Can you create and illustrate any other characters following this theme? (e.g. a girl named ‘River’, a lady named ‘Willow’…)

ADRIFT

Credit: Matt Rockefeller

 

  • What is the woman doing?
  • Where is she?
  • Why is she lying on the floor? How is she feeling? Why?
  • What happened to her clothes? What happened to the building?
  • Why is the TV off air?
  • Are the leaves and acorns important? Is the house in the distance important?
  • What does ‘adrift’ mean? Why is that the title of this picture?
  • Explain what happened here as a TV news report, or write a first person account (choose whose perspective).

THE MONSTER’S RING

© Tony DiTerlizzi (Cover to ‘The Monster’s Ring’ by Bruce Coville, 2002)

 

  • What is ‘The Monster’s Ring’?
  • Is the boy wearing it?
  • What is special about it?
  • What has happened to the boy?
  • Which change happened first?
  • Will he always be this way?
  • How is he feeling?
  • What might he be thinking?

THAT JAR LIFE

Credit: Paul Kidby

 

  • Why is the girl inside the jar?
  • How did she get there?
  • Can she get out? Does she want to?
  • Does she have everything she needs inside the jar?
  • Why is the cat looking at her? Are they communicating? Are they friends?
  • Write in first person. Choose whether you want to write from the girl’s perspective, or the cat’s.
  • Imagine a world where animals keep humans as pets. Would anything be similar to our world as it is? What would be different?

MORITURI NOLUMUS MORI

Credit: Paul Kidby

 

  • Who are these men?
  • What do they do? How do you know?
  • What do you think they are going to do?
  • How are they feeling?
  • The words behind them (written in Latin) say ‘morituri nolumus mori’, which means ‘We who are about to die don’t want to’. What is their story? Why are they about to die? What mission are they being sent on? Who is sending them? Can they refuse?

POWER

Credit: Tyler Carter

 

  • What is the girl doing?
  • Why is she holding the book like that? What does her body language suggest?
  • Why isn’t she wearing shoes?
  • Why is the book glowing? Is it a normal book? What power does it have?
  • How do the colours in this picture make you feel? Is there a safe place in this scene? An unsafe/dangerous place?
  • Is she attacking or defending herself?
  • Who else is in this scene (unseen by us)?
  • Tell the before and after of this picture.

WOLF VON BIG BADEN

Credit: Tony DiTerlizzi (From ‘Once Upon A Fairy Tale’, 2000)

 

  • Who is this?
  • What kind of character is it? What is his/her personality like?
  • What do you think of the slippers?
  • What is the wolf thinking as it looks in the mirror?
  • Is this the wolf’s ‘home sweet home’?
  • Whose are the teeth on the bedside table? What is the bottle on the floor?
  • What do you think of the title for the image – ‘Wolf Von Big Baden’ – ? What does that mean?

FALL

Credit: Jungho Le

 

  • Who is the old lady?
  • What is she doing?
  • What is the shadow? Why isn’t it the same silhouette as her?
  • How does she feel as she’s looking at this shadow? What might she be remembering?
  • Why is it in a book?
  • Why did Jungho Le call this picture ‘Fall’?
  • Write the story of this woman’s life. Include flashbacks.
    • What world events has she lived through?
    • What changes has she seen?
    • What was her childhood like?
    • Is she alone now? Has she always been alone? Was she ever married? Did she have children?
    • What are her favourite memories?
    • What’s her personality like? How will you show this through the writing?
    • How might you structure your story?

GNOME COMFORTS

Credit: Paul Kidby

 

  • Tell me about this character.
  • Where do you think he lives? Why?
  • What kind of personality do you think he has?
  • Why does he have a dragon?
  • Is the dragon his pet? How do you know?
  • What do you think this character values?
  • If you met him, what would you say? What do you think he would say?

THE INVISIBLE GIRL

Credit: Pascal Campion

 

  • Is the girl really invisible?
  • Why isn’t anyone looking at her or speaking to her?
  • What is she doing?
  • What might she be saying?
  • Where do you think this is?
  • Why is she alone?
  • Where does she live? Draw what you think her house/bedroom looks like. Explain your choices.
  • What is going to happen to her? Predict her future.
  • For older children, this image could be compared to the Disney short film, ‘The Little Matchgirl’.

LORD DOWNEY

Credit: Paul Kidby

 

  • What do you know about this man? What evidence do you have?
  • What is he holding in the bag? Why is it glowing?
  • Why is he wearing gloves?
  • Where is he?
  • What is his job?
  • Does he remind you of anyone?
  • Would you like to meet him? Why?

SOMETHING FAMILIAR

Credit: Peter de Sève

 

  • Why is the black cat the only cat looking at the witch?
  • Why did the witch come here? Was she just passing or did she come to the shop for a reason?
  • What is the ‘something familiar’? Why?
  • Do the witch and the cat already know each other?
  • What do you think is going to happen? Tell this story.

CAPTAIN HOOK

Credit: Jirka Väätäinen

 

  • Who is this? How do you know?
  • What does his appearance show you about his personality?
  • What do you think he is looking at? Why is he smiling? Do you think he’s happy?
  • Would you like to meet him? Why?
  • What would you say to him?

GREEN

Credit: Kate Parker

  • Where is this?
  • Why is the girl there? How did she get there?
  • Does anyone know that she’s there?
  • What is she doing? What is she looking at?
  • What time of day is it?
  • How is she feeling? Why is she feeling this way?
  • Tell the ‘before and after’ of this picture – will you write in 3rd person, from the girl’s perspective, or from the point of view of another character?
  • Science prompt: (The girl is wondering) ‘What makes leaves green?’

THIMBLETACK

Credit: Tony DiTerlizzi
(‘Common House Brownie’ from ‘Arthur Spiderwick’s Field Guide to the Fantastical World Around You’)

 

  • Literal questions (retrieval) – What is this Brownie’s name? Where does he live? What did he use to make his pants?
  • Would you like to meet Thimbletack? Why?
  • Do you think there are other Brownies like him? Do they live in groups?
  • What do you think he eats? What makes you think this?
  • Why isn’t he wearing any shoes?
  • How do you think he walks? Show me.
  • Describe Thimbletack in three words.
  • Teach – noun phrases, similes, active vs. passive voice