The Wooden Drum looks at an aspect of village life that has changed. The wooden drum has always been a means of sending messages to everyone in the village. It has been a symbol of unity. However, it has finally become too rotten to use and has been replaced by a metal bell in a new church. The new bell does the same thing as the old drum, but the narrator regrets the loss of the wooden drum. The story is about the passing of time and how things cannot last; about change and attitudes to change.
Features of the Text – The word “would” is used to express habitual actions: “we would hear a special sound” and “the drum would tell us the time”. – The drum is made to seem like a living thing, a friend, telling the villagers what was happening and what to do. This makes readers feel sad when the drum is left out in the open to rot and finally becomes useless. – Page 6 describes the cyclone, using descriptive verbs: the wind howled, the rain lashed, lightning flashed. The verb “howled” describes a particular type of noise. “Lashed” is a word that usually describes hitting something with a whip. Here it is a metaphor: the rain is compared with a whip, that fell so hard that it whipped the trees and anything else it landed on. These language features may be challenging for your students. Allow for plenty of discussion time. – The change of present tense of page 11 signals a shift to the present day. – The expression “used to” on page 11, is another way of expressing past habitual action, but on page 12, it means “to become familiar with or accepting of” something. – There are other sound words in the story besides “howled”, for example, buzz, chirp, thud, and ding. Purpose of the Book The story highlights the fact that things do not stay the same. They grow old and cannot do their job as well as they did when they were new. Finally, they become useless. This is something that the writer regrets, but perhaps not everyone feels this way. Some people like change and get used to new things quickly. The story also focuses on how the drum, and later the bell, bring people together. Today, there are many new forms of mass communication (like radio, TV, and newspapers). The drum was a traditional medium, and it's still used in many places in the Pacific to bring people together for different occasions.”
Themes covered in this book are: Change over time, Science and Technology, Communication, School and Community
Reading Level:21-22 (Gold)