Fergus Ferry Teachers’ Notes

Fergus the Ferry isn’t the biggest boat on the harbour but he’s the friendliest, bravest and most helpful. He stands up against bullies and rescues passengers, ferries and other vessels from dangers such as fire, sharks and sinking.

Each book begins with Fergus on his round but then he always has to work out a new problem.

Fergus’s adventures deliver gentle messages about issues important to 2 to 6 year olds. There are stories about being brave and facing up to challenges you may be afraid of, dealing with bullies, trusting your own judgment, believing in yourself and how we all learn and grow.

JOHN WILLIAMSON NOBLE wrote Fergus the Ferry when he was travelling to work on the Rose Bay Ferry. He read them to his son, who was about two years old at the time. Telling Fergus stories became the thing John did when they were going for a Sunday ferry ride together. He loved turning them into books that other parents could share with their children.

PETER TOWNSEND began working as a freelance illustrator in 1980. He has illustrated more than 140 titles, mostly for children. His client list past and present includes the NSW Education Department, NSW Roads & Traffic Authority, Harper Collins, ABC Enterprises, Angus & Robertson, Golden Press, Scholastic Press, McGraw Hill, EMI Records, Pan Macmillan, Penguin and Snowball Press. Other series he has worked on include Bananas in Pyjamas and The Wiggles.

Book 1 Fergus the Ferry

Fergus is on his rounds when a storm blows in. When Captain Joe sees a yacht in trouble, brave Fergus goes close to the rocks to save the sailors.

Talk about…

What does Fergus do that is brave?

Can you think of when you have been brave?

Look at…

How can you tell there is a storm from the pictures?

Talk about the differences between the happy and the scared faces.

To do…

Rhyming words have endings that sound the same. Find some words that rhyme.

Draw faces with different expressions.

Theme…

Being brave doesn’t mean not being afraid, it means overcoming your fear – as Captain Joe does in this book.

Book 2 Fergus at the Zoo

A lion has escaped from the zoo. He’s chasing a keeper and a kangaroo. Fergus helps them escape.

Talk about…

How do Joe and Fergus know something is wrong at the wharf?

Why does Fergus turn around?

Look at…

Name the different animals in the pictures.

How do the pictures show you it is night?

To do…

In the story, find words that stand for sounds. Think up other sounds that animals, boats and water might make.

Play with a dish of water, a toy boat and some plastic animals.

Theme…

Character is doing what’s right, even when others don’t. It takes confidence, but if you think something is wrong, be prepared to back your judgement.

Book 3 Fergus at the Fire

A fire traps some bushwalkers. Fearless Fergus comes to the rescue.

Talk about…

Why doesn’t Fergus go when Joe pushes the lever to go ahead?

How do the people feel about Fergus at the end of the story?

Look at…

How do the pictures show there is a fire?

There are lots of different hats in the pictures. What do they tell us about the people who have them?

To do…

If you have other Fergus stories, look at the covers and talk about how the cover tells you what is in the story.

Theme…

Don’t play with fire….simple!

Book 4 Fergus at the Race

It’s the day of the harbour ferry race. Can a little ferry like Fergus win?

Talk about…

At the beginning, Fergus is coming last. What does Captain Joe do?

What happens when the other ferries start to get tired?

Look at…

Look at the boats. Is Fergus little or big?

How are the ferries decorated?

To do…

Tape a piece of ribbon onto a short piece of dowel and wave it through the air.

Get a big cardboard box and make it look like a ferry with decorations.

Theme…

Sometimes it’s best not to follow the crowd, but it’s not always easy.

Book 5 Fergus at the Fireworks

It’s New Year’s Eve and there are fireworks. Joe sees a boat in trouble. Fergus rushes to the rescue.

Talk about…

There are different kinds of boats on the harbour. What is George’s job?

Why is it important that Fergus is looking and listening carefully?

Look at…

How does the flare look different to the fireworks?

To do…

Colour a piece of paper with bright crayons. Put black paint over the top. While wet, use the flat end of a spoon to make firework patterns.

Theme…

Don’t cry wolf or people may ignore you when you really need help ( as George did).

Book 6 Fergus Makes a Difference

An oil tanker has broken down. One of the tugs that comes to help blows his engines. Can Fergus help them?

Talk about…

What does Fergus do when Boris teases him?

How do Jimmy and Fergus make a great team?

Look at…

How do we know from the pictures that Jimmy and Fergus are working hard?

How do we know that the tanker is old?

To do…

Find words about boats in the story. Talk about what they mean.

Imagine some ‘what ifs’. What if Boris helped? What if Fergus gave up?

Theme…

Believe in yourself.

You are the best judge of what you can do – no one else.

Book 7 Fergus to the Rescue

When Fergus sees a windsurfer being attacked by a shark he races to the rescue.

Talk about…

Why doesn’t Joe think Fergus is just playing up when he races towards the windsurfer?

What happens when the shark bites at Fergus?

Look at…

Does the shark look silly or a bit scary? Why?

Compare the cover of this story to some of the other stories. How are they alike? How are they different?

To do…

Think about what other animals might live in the harbour. Draw a picture of them.

Theme…

You never know when your dreams will come true.

Book 8 Fergus and Boris

On a foggy day, Boris the big ferry charges off and runs aground on a rocky reef. Fergus saves Boris’s passengers.

Talk about…

Why should the ferries go slowly when it is foggy?

Does it matter that Fergus is small?

Look at…

What colours are the ferries? And the tugs? And George and Tess? Why might different colours be used for vessels with different jobs?

To do…

There are lots of different sound words in the story. Have the children read or make the sounds when you come to them.

Theme…

It doesn’t matter if you’re big or you’re small,

It’s what’s in our hearts that’s the measure of us all.

Book 9 Fergus Goes Bang!

Oscar One is going to start the race with a gun. Then Flash the speedboat crashes into him. It’s up to Fergus to do the job.

Talk about…

Why does Fergus have to be steady and still? Does he act like Flash?

How does Fergus help Joe get back on board?

Look at…

What sorts of boats can you see in the story?

Which ones are in the race?

To do…

Look at the pictures of Joe running around Fergus. Have the child do the countdown or tell you what is happening in his or her own words.

Book 10 Fergus and Angus

When two big ferries have an argument, they bang into each other. The passengers have to be rescued. Fergus and Angus do it together.

Talk about…

How do Boris and Horace act?

How do Fergus and Angus act differently?

Which two ferries get things done?

Look at…

Find any words on the boats. What do they say?

Can you see how the passengers get off the ferries that have crashed?

To do…

Place a short plank or board on two bricks and take turns walking across a gangplank.

Theme…

It takes an open mind to learn.

Book 11 Fergus and the Whale

A whale comes into the harbour and everybody is careful. But when Flash the speedboat goes out of control, it’s up to Fergus to save her.

Talk about…

Why does everyone have to watch the whale from a distance?

Why does Fergus put himself in danger of being hit by Flash?

Look at…

How does Kate look different to Fergus?

Compare how Fergus looks at the beginning and end of the story.

To do…

Whales like to jump and roll and dive. They also blow out water. Draw some whales in action.

Book 12 Fergus Breaks Loose

Angus has lost his rudder and can’t stop spinning. Fergus is tied up. What can he do to help his friend?

Talk about…

How does Angus lose his rudder? Were Boris and Horace kind to him?

What does Fergus say to Boris when Boris laughs at the trouble Angus is in?

Look at…

How is Angus made to look like he is spinning around?

Can you see how Fergus uses a rope to help Angus?

To do…

In a round bucket of water, whirl a floating toy round and around one way and then the other.

Theme…

What’s good to know takes time to learn.

This story also highlights the ante-bullying theme which runs through the series.

Book 13 Fergus Joins the Search

Boris won’t let Angus guide him to the sportsground. Soon Boris is lost. Only one ferry knows where Boris is. Nobody but Fergus is listening.

Talk about…

Why won’t Boris let Angus be his guide?

What happens when Fergus listens to Angus?

Look at…

Look at the different boats on the cover. Do you know their names? And what about the helicopter?

How does the Inner Harbour look compared to the rest of the harbour?

To do…

Using recycled materials, make a pretend swing bridge.

Theme…

Discover your strengths and play to them.

In the Inner Harbour Angus, the youngest ferry, does better than all the others.

Book 14 Fergus and Hydro

Hydro is winning the race but when she bumps a piece of floating wood, she gets into trouble. Who can help her?

Talk about…

Why doesn’t Horace stop to help Hydro?

Why does Fergus turn around to help Hydro?

Why doesn’t Horace win after all? Who does?

Look at…

Do the passengers on the ferries look like they are having fun?

Do all of the ferries look like they are having a good time?

To do…

Pretend to be ferries and have some swimming or running races.

Theme…

Friendship sometimes means giving something up.

Book 15 Fergus and Max

Boris and Horace have an argument. They bump into each other. Now Boris is sinking! Fergus thinks of a way to save him.

Talk about…

Why do Boris and Horace bump into each other?

How does the crane Fergus tows over help Boris?

Look at…

Lots of characters help Boris and Horace. What part does each of them play in the rescue?

To do…

Tie one end of a long piece of string around a paper towel holder. Tape it down. Tie something small to the other end and wind it up and down like a crane.

Theme…

Keep your nerve!…to the end.

Book 16 Fergus and Lady Jane

Boris and Horace are being fixed. Carrying their passengers is hard work for the other ferries. Fergus thinks of someone to help.

Talk about…

When Boris says Fergus won’t cope with extra passengers, what does Fergus do?

What happens when Hydro can’t keep going?

Look at…

How do you know from the pictures that Lady Jane is an old ferry?

To do…

Pick out some of the rhyming words. Do they look the same or different? Talk about how you can write the same sounds with different letters.

Theme…

We all have something to contribute.

Book 17 High Tide Fergus

Now he’s fixed, Boris has a race with Lady Jane. But when his new computer breaks, he runs up on the sand. Who can pull him free?

Talk about…

How is Boris rude to Lady Jane and to Fergus?

What does Fergus know that helps him pull Boris free?

Look at…

Can you see what makes Lady Jane’s engines run?

Pick the faces that look surprised.

To do…

Think of some things that use steam power.

Using big brown paper bags with nose holes made in them, make some surprised-looking masks.

Theme…

Don’t judge a book by its cover.

Lady Jane may be old, but she’s still fast!

Book 18 Fergus and Ark

Horace’s anchor has gone down at the wrong time. How can he get out of the huge carrier’s way? Fergus knows what to do.

Talk about…

Why do boats need anchors?

Why can’t ark stop straight away?

Does everyone need help sometimes?

Look at…

How does the carrier look different to Fergus?

To do…

Put a tent peg in the ground with a string tied to the top. How far around can you move it?

Have everyone run around and when someone shouts ‘stop’ they have to stop as quickly as they can.

Theme…

True friendship is built on mutual respect – like Fergus and Angus, not Boris and Horace.

Book 19 Fergus and ‘C’

C the seaplane is going to hit the water! How will Fergus help him land properly?

Talk about…

When you see something going wrong, should you just watch or should you help?

What does Fergus do?

Look at…

Find lines that show movement in the pictures.

How can you see when C is moving fast?

Or when his propeller is turning?

Can you see when something is falling?

To do…

Draw a plane, a car or a boat and use lines to show that it is moving fast and to show if things like wheels are turning.

Book 20 Fergus Says Farewell

Lady Jane the old steam ferry is on fire. Horace is tied up beside her. Can anyone save him from the flames?

Talk about…

What does Lady Jane say when Horace is mean to her? Is Fergus mean to her?

How does the rescue team work together?

Look at…

See how the boats lean in different ways. This shows they are moving.

To do…

Lady Jane is ruined but something good comes from it. Can you think of when something not so good has happened but something good happens afterwards?

Theme…

Loved ones sometimes have to leave us.

Book 21 Fergus Thinks Fast

In the wild weather, Hydro breaks away from the wharf. She is being blown towards the rocks. No-one can get close to her. But then Fergus thinks of a way to save her.

Talk about…

What is a ‘bollard’?

Why can’t any of the boats except Angus get close to Hydro?

Look at…

How do the pictures show there is a storm?

Does Hydro look scared? How can you tell?

To do…

Think of something very small that is very useful.

In a bowl of water, play with a toy boat and make a storm.

Theme…

Discover what you like to do best and do it well.

Not everyone can be a world champion. But there’s a lot of happiness in doing what you like – well.

Book 22 Fergus and Jet

Jet’s controls are broken and he’s going all over the place. Can Fergus think of a way to catch him?

Talk about…

What special marks show us the words the characters are saying in the story?

Fergus can’t do anything himself to save Jet, but what does he do to help?

Look at…

See if you can spot some different ways water is shown in the pictures.

To do…

The ferries travel on water, some of them fast and some slow. Does it feel different to travel in a boat, train or car?

Theme…

Loved ones sometimes have to leave us…so they can come home better.

Book 23 Fergus and Jess

The big ferries are being sly and mean. Can Fergus stop them causing trouble?

Talk about…

Why are Boris and Horace worried about Jess and Jet working on the harbour?

What mean thing do they do when Jess is in trouble?

What does Fergus do? Is it OK not to help someone in trouble?

Look at…

What makes the ferries and other vessels look like people?

Can you spot Lady Jane coming home?

To do…

Draw a boat, a car, a tractor or a bus with a face on it. Can you make it look scared, happy, sad or surprised?

Theme…

Succeed on your strengths, not by pulling others down.

Book 24 Fergus Goes to Sea

Boris the boaster is in trouble at sea but Fergus would never leave him to sink.

Talk about…

Why does Fergus helps Boris even though Boris isn’t nice to him?

What does this tell us about Fergus?

Look at…

Does Boris look big out at sea?

Look at the different way the sky is shown in the pictures.

To do…

On a big sheet of paper, paint a simple sky and sea and let it dry. Then using pencils, textas, paint or cut-up paper, add boats and planes. Give them faces and make up a story of your own.

Theme…

In the end, when all’s said and done,

There’s room in this world for everyone.