This lesson plan is based on Teaching Idea #1, "Food in Fiction," for the South Korean YA novel excerpt "Wizard Bakery." Students will closely read descriptions of magical foods from the story and use them as models for their own work.
The final writing assignment, a quasi-informational "website blurb" of an invented food, fosters students' creativity and helps them learn how to organize their thoughts for non-fiction writing.
- Subjects: ELA, creative writing, composition
- Student levels: Grades 8–11
- Length : One fifty-minute session
- Common Core Anchor Standards for Reading: 1, 2, 3, 5, 9, 10
- Common Core Anchor Standards for Writing: 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 9
Student ObjectivesStudents will:
- Closely read and analyze selected passages from the story
- Discuss Koo's use of detailed, specific description
- Apply those techniques to their own writing
Launching the Lesson
The story starts with several paragraphs about "The Devil’s Cinnamon Cookies." Have students read those paragraphs in pairs or small groups.
Next, ask students to share their immediate responses—which may include some confusion! Tell them they will understand more about what's happening if they pay attention to clues as the story moves forward.
Finally, invite students to make predictions about the story, asking:
- What does the description of the cookies suggest about the rest of the story? (For example, it takes place in a world where magic exists.)
- Why might this story begin in this way? (Possible answers might include: to capture readers' attention, to give a sense of the setting.)
Have students continue reading the story, marking the product descriptions that stand out to them: "Which 'products' surprise you or appeal to you? Which products would you want for yourself, and why?"
Afterwards, have them discuss those products in pairs or small groups, using the questions below:
- Which baked goods were you interested in, and why?
- What do you notice about the descriptions of the baked goods? For example, is the language detailed or vague? What information is provided?
- How does the description "sell" the food?
(Individual or group): Invent your own magical baked good and create a "web page" advertising it. Model your language on the language in the "Wizard Bakery" food descriptions.
Extra Credit/Challenge: Also include comments and product ratings, as mentioned in the story.
Additional Teaching Resources
- Ann Neary, a teacher of World Literature and English at Staples High School in Westport, Connecticut, presented her work with "Wizard Bakery" at a live Zoom session with other educators (part of our #TeaGlobally series; subscribe for invites!)
- Ms. Neary's course materials and examples of student work
Want to teach this story alongside another work of literature? Try these potential pairings, also available to students in the "Playlist" tab to the right of "Wizard Bakery" online.
On WWB Campus:
- When My Wife Was A Shiitake: A Japanese story about a recently widowed man who learns to cook, eventually sharing his creations with a granddaughter; this story, too, begins with a discussion of food.
- Sharing: Chinese graphic fiction depicting a world where "market value is everything," as the narrator of "Wizard Bakery" also suggests, and where gifts of cake stand in for love.
- The Park Bench: In which a Taiwanese boy in Paris copes with racism and tries to find a place to eat lunch.
- The Kiso Wayfarer: A Japanese mystery story featuring a stranger bearing sushi.
- Roald Dahl's children's fiction and memoirs, including, most famously, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Students who have graduated from those books might enjoy this radio story.
- C. S. Lewis's The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. Students might also be interested in this article from Slate.
- "Babette's Feast," a short story by Karen Blixen (pen name: Isak Dinesen), later made into an award-winning film.
- Beginning of Proust's Remembrance of Things Past, which also—famously—invokes the Madeleine.
- An article featuring "Real Recipes for Fictional Foods," with connections to Harry Potter, Game of Thrones, and more.
- A list of "100 Must-Read Books: Food in Fiction" from bookriot.com.