Tales From Our Grade 4 Authors

Metafictive books

Since the start of the school year, one of our Grade 4 classes has been involved in a research study co-facilitated by Dr. Sylvia Pantaleo from UVic and Grade 4 teacher Ms. Heather Sandquist. The overarching goal of the research was to develop students’ critical thinking and aesthetic understanding by examining a variety of picture books and other literature, including metafictive works.

“Metafiction is fiction about fiction. It is a novel or short story (or film or play) in which the author knowingly draws attention to the fact that it is being made up.”
– Novel-Writing-Help.com

Throughout the fall and early winter, students participated in regular discussions and written tasks, and learned to identify metafictive devices in picture books.

Towards the end of the first term, students drafted and created a finished picture book of their own that included elements of art and visual design, as well as many metafictive devices.

They recently celebrated with a book launch that showcased the Metafictive Tales by 4S class book. Each student’s story was included in this finished, bound book.

Congratulations to these student for all of their dedicated work!

Student Reflections

“I think that our book project with Dr. Pantaleo was amazing! It is such an honour to be working with her. My favourite part was creating the story because I realized that I could make anything happen, and I like reading fantasy, so I made a story about a phoenix. I am most proud of the finished product. I thought that there wasn’t a lot of work in it, but now I know that there is SO MUCH WORK because each page takes a lot of effort to sketch in pencil, then sharpie, and finally colour. Something that I found challenging was finishing in time because I didn’t want to make the last few pages look different than the others because I was rushing, and who wants that? My take away from this project was learning about lines, colour, metafictive devices, intertextualities and parodies. These are my takeaways because I can use these things in real life, and, as Dr. Pantaleo says, ‘You see what you learn to see,’ so I see these things in books now! Now that I am a published author I feel very excited because my story is actually IN A BOOK!” – by Sophie

“I loved making a metafictive picture book! I learned so much about art and metafictive devices and story world boundaries and points of view (both types). It was a great way to display our learning and also show how we think differently and have different ideas. Dr. Pantaleo helped us make amazing books and actually made us authors! When I look at the books, I always recognize how much effort teachers and students put into these stories. It is not easy making books: first a topic, then lots of devices, then drawing the rough copy, then typing or writing words, then making a good copy, then having it published, then the celebration! It feels very good to have completed the book and I feel proud of it.” – by Sammie

“I have enjoyed working with Dr. Pantaleo because of the things I learned. I enjoyed learning about metafictive devices for instance mise en abyme, which means a copy within a copy within a copy and so on, and the copies get smaller each time. Another one is intertextuality. That means when you take something, for example the Mona Lisa, if you put it in a book and don’t change the way it’s done, that’s an intertextuality. A parody is the opposite: you take something famous and change the way it’s done. We’ve also learned about colour. Colours aren’t just colours, they have a meaning to them, for instance blue could mean peace or sadness.” – by Preeya

“I think that while we have had Dr. Pantaleo it’s been an amazing experience. We have been learning about parody, intertextuality, typography, colour, line, point of view, and discussion, but first I will be talking about metafictive devices. Metafictive devices show that the story is fiction. For example, if the character talks to the narrator, this shows that it is fiction. If you are reading the Guinness World Records book, a person won’t say “Hi, narrator!” Now I will talk about intertextuality. It is when you take something from another work/text and put it in your own book. When you take something from another work/text and change it, it’s called a parody. That’s just a few of the things that we learnt with Dr. P. It was a good experience to have Dr. P. because I don’t look at a picture book the same way I did before!” – by Julian

“In the metafictive book we made I thought that I did a good job. I am proud of all the hard work I put into it and most proud of all the metafictive devices in the book that I made. I had to think of a story that I could put metafictive devices in, so, I thought that if I changed the 3 Little Pigs into the 3 Little Emojis there would be more metafictive devices in it. Although there were challenging parts through this project I managed to fight through them, like when I messed up the narrator’s eye because my hand smudged it. Then I smudged it more to make it look like he was crying. What I also found challenging was how long it took because I was tempted to get done so my brain could have a dance party but it was challenging to go through all those steps to get the end product that we have now. I learned that you don’t get your hopes up for finishing, your mind should be set on what you are doing or what you are going to do. I have so many takeaways for this project but the biggest one is the end product that we made – the book – because it showed the hard work of my classmates. I showed it to my family and they really enjoyed it. I feel like an amazing author.” – by Ellie

“I think what we did with Dr. P. was great because we had a lot of fun and we were learning. I think that we learned not only about writing a story but we also learned about colouring and techniques, complementary colours and typography. I was most proud of when I finished my book because all my hard work paid off. It was also very fun to have a book that you know was written and illustrated by me. I think that our metafictive tales book is solid gold (metaphor alert!). My takeaway was that it is possible to learn and have fun. One other takeaway was our book, Metafictive Tales by 4S, and my original copy of my book. Since I am now an official published author I feel I have achieved my goals because university students learn these things and I am only in Grade 4. My other reasons are that it took a very long time to get my finished product and that all my hard work paid off.” – by Cindy


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