Program Details – True Tales

The Great Houdini

The Great Houdini: Harry Houdini was the most famous of all escape artists, who risked his life in incredible ways. He was famous for getting out of locks, handcuffs, jail cells and straightjackets. He could even escape from a locked box that had been dropped into the water. The extraordinary story of an amazing man. (924 words) Themes: Bravery, Self belief (Zip Stage 6) (Flesch grade 4.3) (Lexile 400)


Castaway!: The story of the man who inspired Robinson Crusoe – British sailor Alexander Selkirk - who was left alone on a deserted island for years. Why was Selkirk abandoned, and how did he survive? And what was the irony of his reaction when he was finally rescued? (1037 words) Themes: Bravery, Keeping cool in emergency situations, Ingenuity, Never giving up (Zip Stage 6) (Flesch grade 4.6) (Lexile 500)


Snake!: Four men camping out in the jungle have fallen out with one another. Their boredom and irritation ends when one morning they find that a deadly snake has crawled into one man’s sleeping bag. How can they possibly get him out of harm’s way without the snake killing him? (1111 words) Themes: Altruism, Ingenuity (Zip Stage 6) (Flesch grade 4.3) (Lexile 340)

Subway Hero

Subway Hero: A little girl called Michelle accidentally falls onto the underground subway track in New York, just as a train is about to come into the station. Is anyone brave enough to try and save her and if they do, will they survive? Very exciting. (876 words) Themes: Bravery, Altruism (Zip Stage 6) (Flesch grade 4.3) (Lexile 480)

No Second Chances

No Second Chances: Two people are trapped at the bottom of a cliff in the Blue Mountains as night falls. If not rescued, they will freeze to death. A helicopter crew is called in to help, but the rescue would involve flying up against a cliff - an impossible risk. (932 words) Themes: Bravery, Altruism (Zip Stage 7) (Flesch grade 4.6) (Lexile 530)


Capsize!: A retelling of the famous rescue of Tony Bullimore, lone English sailor, whose yacht capsized far from the Australian mainland. Would the rescue ship be able to find him in the immense ocean, and would he be alive when they got to him? (1068 words) Themes: Bravery, Altruism, Persistence (Zip Stage 7) (Flesch grade 5.1) (Lexile 510)

Kay Cottee's Adventures

Kay Cottee’s Adventures: A retelling of the incredible voyage of Kay Cottee. In 1988, Kay Cottee became the first woman to sail single-handed around the world without stopping – an act of amazing heroism. She battled storms, giant waves, near misses with ships, a capsize and being washed overboard to get back home. (972 words) Themes: Bravery, Altruism (Zip Stage 7) (Flesch grade 5.2) (Lexile 580)

The Ghost Ship

The Ghost Ship: This is a retelling of the most famous of all maritime mysteries – that of the ‘ghost ship’ ‘Mary Celeste’. In 1872, an American ship was discovered sailing in the North Atlantic – without anyone aboard. Why was the ship abandoned? What happened to its crew? Is the famous Fosdyk explanation believable? (1008 words) Themes: Bravery, Keeping cool in emergency situations (Zip Stage 7) (Flesch grade 5.2) (Lexile 610)

The Titanic

The Titanic: A report on the famous maritime disaster. In 1912, the greatest ocean liner the world had seen set out on its maiden voyage across the Atlantic. It was believed to be “unsinkable” – yet only days into its trip it struck an iceberg and sank, with massive loss of life. Why? (1208 words) Themes: Bravery, The dangers of being arrogant (Zip Stage 8) (Flesch grade 6.3) (Lexile 600)

Blast Off!

Blast Off!: Yuri Gagarin, the Russian cosmonaut, was the first person ever to travel in space. He orbited the Earth for ninety minutes before surviving a highly dangerous re-entry. Yuri Gagarin became a hero around the world, reminding people “Planet Earth is a beautiful and precious place.” (610 words) Themes: Bravery, Keeping cool in emergency situations (Zip Stage 8) (Flesch grade 6.1) (Flesch grade 6.0) (Lexile 720)

The Mummy's Curse

The Mummy’s Curse: In 1922, Tutankhamen’s tomb was found by the English archaeologist Howard Carter. It was a find of extraordinary historical importance – but the event is also famous for the legend of the curse that befell those who ventured into the ancient tomb. (1046 words) Themes: Persistence, Assessing evidence (Zip Stage 8) (Flesch grade 6.4) (Lexile 520)

Blackbeard the Pirate

Blackbeard the Pirate: Blackbeard the pirate sailed the seas during the 1700’s. He was renowned for his cruelty, as he went across the seas terrorising other ships and even his own crew. At last, people had had enough, so the British navy tracked him down and defeated him. (591 words) Themes: Crime doesn’t pay (Zip Stage 8) (Flesch grade 7.4) (Lexile 920)