The Edge Chronicles by Paul Stewart and Chris Riddell

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The Edge Chronicles by Paul Stewart and Chris Riddell

Learning Resources by Patricia Griffin

Notre Dame High School


Classroom Materials for Chapter 1

The first Chapter of “Beyond the Deepwoods” is available to download from the Paul Stewart and Chris Riddell website:


  • You may wish to begin the work on “The Edge Chronicles” by discussing the illustrations – eg. the cover of the book / the drawing of “The Edge”. Chris Riddell uses very distinctive Line Drawings to illustrate The Edge. It is interesting that the creation of the fantasy world detailed in The Edge Chronicles is the result of a successful working partnership. Chris Riddell was the creator of a map and he then asked Paul Stewart to write about this land he had created as a piece of art.

This could stimulate some discussion on whether pupils would have imagined that artists are asked to illustrate a story which has already been created rather than the story coming from an illustration. They could subsequently be asked to create an illustration of their own fantasy land and then to write a paragraph – creating a character who lives in this land. You could ask for collaboration with Art & Design Dept. and this could lead to some of the Outcomes from Expressive Arts being achieved. (Lit 2-02a, Exa 2-02a, Exa 2-03a)


In Chapter 1 the writer describes a number of different woods, what happens when they burn and the reasons why these are important to Wood Trolls

Scentwood – fragrance which induces a dream-filled sleep

Lullabee Tree – sings strange, mournful songs (Twig has a lullabee tree print on the blanket he wears around his neck.)

Bloodoak (and the parasite tarry vine) – wood gives off a lot of heat: it wails and screams as it burns. It is a very buoyant wood (often used to repair the sky pirates’ ships). It is a flesh-eating tree with thousands of razor sharp teeth

Lufwood – gives off a restful, purple glow

Twig refers to the fact that he doesn’t like the smells of his family and he remembers what Taghair says to him:

“your nose knows where you belong” (page 16).

These descriptions could be used as a stimulus for a number of different activities:

  • Opportunity for Group Discussion regarding smells which pupils associate with different places. (Lit 2-02a)

  • Poetry – creation of their own poems based on their favourite/least favourite smells (Eng 2-31a)

These could be acrostic poems about the place they have chosen to write about. For example:

Staffroom’s aroma of ground coffee beans
Chemistry’s putrid nose-curling sulphur burned in experiments
Home Economics’ delectable scents inducing hunger pangs
Oil-based paint brushed onto canvas – signing the creativity of the Art Department
Outdoors and the hayfever inducing cross-country run of the P.E. Department
Lively smells of healthy foods emanating from the Cafeteria
  • ArtPupils may wish to create their own drawings of how they interpret some of the descriptions detailed. (Exa 2-02a, Exa 2-03a)

For example:

“The next instant he did what no woodtroll before had ever done: he left the path. The long grass whipped at his bare legs as he loped towards the basket.”


In Chapter 1 Twig describes how he has been bullied.

Look at page 17 and Tuntum Snatchwood’s advice to Twig:

“Bloody their noses,” he said once. “Black their eyes. And throw not mud but dung! Show them what you’re made of. ”

Page 39, Twig tells us:
“Normal is always being left out, never belonging.”

  • The above excerpts from the book can be used to promote whole class discussion or group discussion on bullying. Pupils could examine the School Policy on Bullying. (Lit 2-02a)

Access websites:

Look at ways to prevent bullying:
The difference each individual can make by simply offering support to the bully.

The importance of telling an adult what is happening.

The Pupil and Parent Councils could become involved in the ensuing discussions.

Again, it is useful to consult with those in charge of PSE programme to see if a coordinated approach can be taken. If the school has focus/theme for the week programme, it would be good to coordinate the approach so that the whole school are focused on bullying during this period where some pupils have focus in association with Twig’s situation. (Lit 2-02a)


Figures of Speech

Page 16 Simile:

“The zigzag silhouettes of the Deepwood pines were glinting like frozen bolts of lightning”

Page 39 Metaphor:

“...the silver moonlight that snaked along the trunks and branches...”

Page 17 Personification

His father’s felling tales had filled him with deep horror on many a howling night”

How effectively do the above figures of speech create a picture in my mind? (Eng 2-27a

  • Pupils work together to create descriptions of their own fantasy land – or the Deepwoods – using simile, metaphor, personification

Precious Objects

Page 20 – Spelda

“Fingered the amulets and lucky charms around her neck, and prayed for a swift and safe return”

  • Think of something that it is precious to you (it may be a toy/ teddy/ blanket you have had since you were a child – or something given to you by a person who is special to you).

Create a story/poem in which this precious item is bestowed with magical powers. (Eng 2-31a, Eng 2-27a)

Planning the essay
Who are the characters in your story?
The Plot – what difficulty/challenge is there for the characters which special powers provided by the item will be supported
Description of the item – what are the magic powers?
Take care to use creative simile, metaphor and word choice to allow your story to come alive (look at examples from “Beyond the Deepwoods”)

Mystery, Magic and Games

Page 25 – Trockbladder

“The rules of the game were simple. There were two teams, with as many woodtrolls on each side as wanted to play. The aim was to catch the trockbladder – the bladder of a hammelhorn stuffed with dried trockbeans and run twelve paces, calling out the numbers as you went. If you managed that, you were allowed a shot at the central basket, which could double your score.”

  • Create a new game which can be played in the Deepwood (Lit 2-26a)

Look at the rules of Trockbladder above and the fuller description on page 25.

You might also want to look at the Harry Potter stories, where we have the game of “quidditch” – look at the rules of that game.
In your game, remember to use some of the items which can be recognised and found in “Beyond the Deepwoods”

General Points and Ideas for extended work with the story

  • The menu of choices you offer your pupils will determine which Outcomes from CfE are achieved by your pupils. It is important to plan possible assignments well in advance to allow yourself the opportunity to examine the Experiences and Outcomes which you believe may be achieved. CfE encourages creativity and diversity. Therefore, the individuality of teacher approach will influence the pupil experience and their achievement of Outcomes at specific levels.

It should be recognised that there could be very sensitive issues arising from discussion of Twig and his families – birth parents and his guardians – e.g. pupils who have been adopted or those who have no knowledge of their family roots/parentage etc. You will be aware of pupils who come from families applying for asylum who do not know whether they are going to granted leave to stay in Scotland and, again, this type of situation may require a sensitive and delicate approach.

In creating assignments, it is good to give pupils the opportunity to make a choice about whether they wish to discuss/write about themselves or a celebrity – someone in the public eye to be researched and written about offers a possible alternative to any individual who feels uneasy examining his own situation.

In Secondary schools, it may be useful to inform the Pastoral Care Team (in advance) of the work you have planned for your class so that, if there are sensitive family issues, you can be alerted to the nature of these. You may wish to letter parents/carers/guardians of the project work you are going to be using in class in relation to “Beyond the Deepwoods” so they can be prepared for questions their child may ask of them.

Pupils’ Own Experiences

  • It may be that if you teach in a Secondary School, you have a Foreign Language Assistant who is there to support your Modern Languages Department. It may be useful to request that the “Assistant” discuss with pupils how he or she feels about being in a foreign country where customs/traditions are unfamiliar to him. It would be useful for pupils to spend time thinking about how they themselves feel when they are taken away from what is familiar to them. If pupils have been on school trip/foreign exchange, their experience can be useful to connect with Twig’s feelings of being away from the family he has grown up with when he embarks on his journey to Cousin Snetterbark. There may be some discussion regarding the feeling of “belonging” and what this means.

Relatives who have emigrated

  • Pupils may wish to contactrelatives/friends/former pupil of the class to ask them to describe how they feel about living in a foreign country – to examine the advantages/disadvantages and some of the challenges they have experienced “fitting in” to a new culture with different traditions and perhaps language.

Pupils can perhaps relate the experience of those who were dispossessed as a result of the Highland Clearances – how those families felt when they found themselves without a home/job etc. to the situation Twig finds himself in throughout the story:

2009 - the year of Homecoming Scotland

  • “Beyond the Deepwoods” has many references to the idea of “home”. Again, you could use “home” as your central theme for your work on “Beyond the Deepwoods” and, in secondary, link with other Departments to offer a coordinated approach to this study.

Accepting Customs and Traditions which are not of our own culture – leading to tolerance and understanding of others

Page 18 – ‘“Names,” she was saying. “Where would we woodtrolls be without them? They tame the wild things of the Deepwoods, and give us our own identity. Ne’er sip of a nameless soup, as the saying goes. Oh, Twig, how I fretted when, at three years old, you were still without a name.”

Twig shivered. He knew that any woodtroll who dies without a name would be doomed to an eternity in open sky. The trouble was that until an infant had uttered its first word the naming ritual could not take place.’

  • Investigating the meaning of names. Pupils researching first names and surnames. Looking at how different cultures and nationalities have a different process for naming a child. (Lit 2-14a)

Eg. the Sikh tradition with “Kaur” (mandatory last name for female Sikhs)
Singh”(mandatory last name for male Sikhs)

  • Project could focus on “ME” – starting with looking at Twig’s developing understanding of who he is.

Who am I? Researching family history
What type of person am I?
What are my likes/dislikes/hopes/aspirations/background
Who are my heroes?

Praise Poetry

  • Praise Poetry could be a useful tool to use in conjunction with “Beyond the Deepwoods” where the youngsters cultivate their admiration/gratitude to someone for the influence they have had on the life of the pupil. They could use poetry as a medium to share the qualities of the person they admire ... we enhance our own self-esteem by pinpointing qualities we find admirable in others.

Pupils can put themselves in the position of Twig and write a Praise Poem for “Mother Mine” or for “Banderbear”. (Eng 2-31a, Eng 2-27a)


Page 44:

“Oh, Gloamglozer!” he cursed.”Gloamglozer! Gloamglozer!” His voice rang out in the frosty night air. “Please. Please. Please,” he cried. “Let me find the path again. If only I hadn’t left the path! Help me! Help me! Help...”

By the time we reach the end of the book, we realise that there has been a consequence to Twig’s pleading. This could allow for discussion about consequences to actions we take in life. There is an opportunity to branch off in any particular area you wish at this point.

  • Solo Talk opportunity – pupils talk from personal experience of a decision they took and the consequences of that (Lit 2-09a)

  • Research a famous historic figure and give account of consequences to an action taken by this person. (Lit 2-14a)
    Both of these assignments could lead on to essay writing.

Personal Environment

  • It is hoped that pupils may take more notice of their own community and environment when they are following Twig in his journey beyond the Deepwoods. It may be interesting to take the youngsters out of the school and get them to study and notice the area surrounding their school. Ask them to research places of interest in local community, and if possible, the class could visit them. (Lit 2-14a)

  • Following an investigation of local history, pupils could draw the outlines of local buildings which interest them, they could write poetry or details of the building’s history and include them within the lines of the drawing – shape poetry! (Eng 2-27a, Eng 2-31a, Exa 2-02a, Exa 2-03a)

Genre - Populating a Fantasy World

Glossary of creatures found in “Beyond the Deepwoods”

Banderbear –
A huge, hairy mountain of a beast with pale green fur. It is timid and wanders alone in the woods yodelling to other solitary banderbears.

Caterbird – Wise guardian (slips out from its cocoon) a bird-like creature which has jet black wings

Gabtroll – Monstrous creature with eye-stalks and a yellow tongue. They have sold fruit and vegetables for generations and they always travel alone

Gloamglozer – A deceiver, a trickster, a cheat and a fraud –seeks out all those who have strayed from the path and lures them to the Edge

Grossmother – Obese with a voice that sounds like “bubbling mud”. Feeds the gyle goblins with pots of honey

Halitoad – A huge and dangerous reptile whose evil-smelling breath can stun its victim at 20 paces

Hover worm – Makes a hissing noise from rows of ducts along its underbelly. These expel air which allows the “hovering” to occur. Its mouth is full of tentacles

Milchgrubs – Huge, lumbering, transparent creatures who graze on fungus

Razorflit – A flying creature who preys on woodrats or leafgobbler

Rotsucker - A bile- swilling creature. Has powerful, black leathery wings and talons. Instead of a mouth, it has a long, tubular snout.

Skullpelt – A hunter of dreamers who lose their way in the lullabee groves

Slaughterers - peaceful race who kill animals. It is said that generations of spilt blood had seeped through their pores and down into the follicles of their hair – colouring their hair red

Spindlebug – Has a translucent body and wedge-shaped head. Looks like a giant glass insect

Termagant Trogs – Young females become adult by drinking from the red central root of the Bloodoak and they become enormous and aggressive with a neck as broad as their head

Wig-wigs – Small furry creatures who can multiply with ease. Vicious and flesh-eating

Making a fantasy world believable and absorbing is often about populating it with enough detail. “Beyond the Deepwoods” is filled with fantastic descriptions of creatures with very individual traits.

  • Write a description of an animal that focuses on its defining qualities. (Eng 2-27a)

Pupils could think about:
  • What it looks like/smells like/sounds like

  • What it eats/Where it lives/How it moves

  • How it changes as it grows older

  • What stories people tell about it

Once they have written a description, ask them pass it to someone else and ask them to come up with a name for it.

This activity could be extended into a piece of collaborative writing and illustration. With a partner, once pupils have two creatures, write a story about a meeting between them and draw both of your creatures.


Assignments for end of book

  • Using all the information and assignments you have already completed and using your notebook where you have kept a “thinking diary” throughout the project, create a fantasy land of your own. Create characters and write a story detailing an adventure which a central character has. (Lit 2-25a)

  • Continue the Story of Twig now that he has joined his birth father and is travelling with the Sky Pirates. You can use some of the creatures you have already met in “Beyond the Deepwoods” or you can create new characters in new lands which Twig visits on his adventures. (Eng 2-31a, Eng 2-27a, Eng 2-19a)

In all suggested assignments, pupils could be encouraged to write in Gaelic, Scots Language or you may wish (if they are pupils for whom English is an additional language) for the young people to write in their first language and offer you a translation of what they have written.

Other Books to read:

Barnaby Grimes
Curse of the night Wolf
Return of the Emerald Skull
Legion of the Dead
Phantom of Blood Alley

Far Flung Adventures

Fergus Crane

Corby Flood
Hugo Pepper

The Edge Chronicles (in recommended reading order)
Quint Trilogy
Curse of the Gloamglozer
The Winter Knights
Clash of the Sky Galleons

Twig Trilogy
Beyond the Deepwoods
Midnight Over Sanctaphrax

Rook Trilogy
The last of the Sky Pirates

Stand Alone Edge books
The Immortals

The Lost Barkscrolls

The Edge Maps

Some useful websites for you to access:

Teachers can access (probably not from school due to firewall restrictions of Local Authorities) You Tube Video “Paul Stewart & Chris Riddell the Edge Chronicles”:

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