The selby series Duncan Ball talking & listening activities

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The SELBY Series – Duncan Ball





  • Duncan Ball uses some interesting names for the characters in his stories. What significance do the names have? Do they reflect the character’s personality or physical appearance? Explain how names like Gary Gaggs fit the characterisation. Look for other fitting names throughout the stories. Discuss the alliteration used for people’s names as well as the titles of all the Selby books.

  • Conduct an imaginary radio interview or telephone conversation with Selby about one of his harrowing experiences.

  • Have each student choose one character from any story and present to the class a profile of their chosen character.

  • Focus on the questions: What makes a story humorous? How do characters, structure and choice of language influence the reader’s reaction?

  • After discussing the sequence of the story, create a story map (visual representation) illustrating the main features and events of the text.

  • Selby hates Dry-Mouth Dog biscuits, preferring to eat peanut prawns instead. Create a slogan and design an advertisement to market Selby’s Dry-Mouth Dog Biscuits.

  • Find clues in the stories that give an insight to Selby’s character. What personality traits does he have? Using these clues, write a character description of Selby. Describe his physical appearance as well as his personality. See for a biography of Selby.

  • Selby and the Trifles always end up realising that their relatively simple lives in Bogusville are better than anything great wealth might bring. Revise the structure and language features of an exposition (argument). Write an argument persuading your audience that… ‘Money isn’t Everything.’

  • Write a detailed written explanation on how life would be different for Selby should his secret ever be revealed.

  • Revise how to adapt a narrative into a script. Role play the characters and events of a chosen scene from one of the stories. Discuss the different characters and rewrite the text as a script. Perform for the class.

  • Selby loves receiving emails and letters from his fans. Write an email to Selby at the following website address:

  • Dr. Trifle is a scientist who enjoys creating new inventions. Think of a problem and design your own invention to solve the problem.

  • Design a bulletin board for your classroom using Selby as the theme. Sketch it out & then create it for display.

The SELBY Series – Duncan Ball





  • Outline the structure of a debate and the effective delivery of arguments in terms of voice and body language. Jointly construct an argument for: ‘Selby should reveal his secret.’

  • Compare and contrast the stories. Are there any similarities between them?

  • In many of Selby’s stories, Aunt Jetty’s sons, Billy and Willy are portrayed as rude, ill-mannered children. Find evidence in one of the stories to support this view. Do you agree?

  • Discuss the effects of teasing and bullying. Brainstorm and list strategies people can use when confronted by bullies. Can Selby use any of these strategies when tormented by the twins? How can we deal with bossy and bullying students in our school?

  • Prepare a two minute oral presentation on the advantages of owning a dog (or other pet) that could talk, read and write.

  • Selby loves reading and writing. He especially loves writing and receiving emails from kids. Revise the structure & grammar of a procedural text. Write a procedure outlining the steps in creating an email.

  • Using De Bono’s Thinking Hats, explore the advantages and disadvantages of being the only talking dog in Australia and perhaps the world.

  • Selby loves Gary Gaggs’ jokes. What are some of your favourite jokes? Make up some jokes and create a class joke book.

  • Selby is concerned that if his secret would be discovered, he would be kept in a laboratory and asked stupid questions by scientists. Devise a list of intelligent questions to ask Selby.

  • Write and perform a short play dealing with a school bully. Remember to include a complication and resolution.

  • Dr. Trifle has a passion for inventing gadgets that often backfire. Design a brochure to advertise one of Dr. Trifle’s many inventions.

  • You are a journalist writing a sensational article about a talking dog. First you need to conduct an interview with Selby. Decide on & list some appropriate questions. Conduct the interview. Don’t forget the photo shoot!

  • Show your knowledge of the Selby stories by constructing a game of Trivial Pursuit using story events and characters. Construct 20 questions. Provide three multiple choice answers for each question.

  • Draw a cartoon of two of the characters from a story. Insert speech bubbles. How are the bubbles placed on the page so they are read it in the correct order?

Prepared by Antonina Fieni 2005

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