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‘The Tin Forest’ by Helen Ward

Grace Woollard By Grace Woollard

In ‘a wide windswept place, near nowhere and close to forgotten’ you will find the beginnings of the tin forest.

Written by Helen Ward and illustrated by Wayne Anderson, The Tin Forest is a beautifully crafted modern fable. It tells the story of an old man who dreams of living in a wild forest bursting with life, but lives in a grey and barren scrap-metal wasteland. From a moment of inspiration and under the care of the old man, a forest made of tin emerges, and from this springs life and beauty.

There are many elements which make this a special book:

  • prose that reads like poetry
  • detailed and emotive illustrations
  • strong environmental and moral messages
  • great stimulus for discussion, empathy and inspiration

This is truly a book which gets children talking. It can be viewed as a story about the importance of looking after the Earth, a story about the power of resilience and perseverance or the idea that hope can spring in the darkest of places.

The Tin Forest will provide a starting point for a wealth of writing. Children can devise stories set in wild places (see plan link below); contrast settings of the wasteland and the forest; empathise with the character and write in role; and write persuasively about caring for the environment or explain how plant lifecycles work.

Although we are focusing on English, it would be remiss not to mention the artistic potential of The Tin Forest. The book could be used as a trigger for some fantastic artwork, exploring contrasts in tone and texture, exploring mixed media or responding emotionally to the story. Maybe your class will be inspired to create a forest of their own!

  • Category: One you may have missed
  • Age: Years 2-4 (although could stretch up or down depending on how it is used)
  • Topics: fantasy stories, futuristic settings, materials, environmentalism, ecology
  • Teaching areas: descriptive settings, story writing, fables, recounts, persuasive writing

English plans that use 'The Tin Forest’

For teaching and resources using this book see Hamilton's Year 2 English block, ‘Stories about the Wild'.The Tin Forest is combined with two other fantastic picture books set in wild places to explore settings, description, conjunctions and expanded noun phrases.

Discover another of our favourite books: Tuesday by David Wiesner.