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The Firework Maker’s Daughter

Philip Pullman
Corgi Books
Age 7-9

The Firework Maker’s Daughter is a short novel set in Indonesia. It tells the story of Lila, a young girl who longs to be a fully qualified firework maker, just like her father Lalchand. Although Lalchand teaches Lila some of his skills, he refuses to share all his secrets with her, feeling a husband rather than a career is more fitting for a girl. Lila is determined to discover he secrets of being a firework maker herself setting off on a perilous quest assisted by her friend Chulak, a white elephant and a band of pirates.

This is an engaging and exciting story in the style of a traditional tale with a feminist theme and lots of humour from a master storyteller.

Presenter Saira Khan talks about the book and reads an extract here: English KS1 / KS2: The Firework-Maker’s Daughter’ by Philip Pullman – BBC Teach

Read the opening of the story here Extract | The Firework-Maker’s Daughter by Philip Pullman (


Talk about the story

After reading chapter one :

  • talk about Lila and her father and what they both think about what Lila’s future might be

  • share your views on using an elephant as a mobile billboard – writing advertisements on him. Is it right to use an animal like this?

When you have finished the book

  • share your favourite scenes and favourite characters and talk about why you chose them

  • talk with your child about what they would tell a friend about the book


Things to make and do

Make a zig zag book
Make a zig zag book of characters from the story, with one per page and an illustration and line or two explaining who each character is.

Make a story map
Use a large piece of paper to draw a map of the story world include Lalchand’s workshop, the Elephant House, the Palace, the jungle, the river, the village, the Emerald Lake, Mount Merapi. Think about Lila and Chulak’s journeys and plot them on the map.

 Make a colourful picture – a painting, collage, wax resist Crayon Resist Art – My Kid Craft  or wax scratch Crayon Etching Fireworks Picture (  You could choose to illustrate:

    • The emerald lake and the water goddess with lanterns and blossom

    • The grotto of the fire fiend

    • The firework competition in the final scene

Make up a firework dance
Have fun dancing like fireworks think about the kinds of movements and shapes you might make. Here is some music to inspire you:
Tchaikovsky Nutcracker Suite – Russian Dance Trepak – YouTube

Prince Igor, Act II: Polovtsian Dances. No. 17, General Dance. Allegro – YouTube


Download our activity book here


Find out more

Find out about author Philip Pullman Philip Pullman – Welcome (

Read more books by  Philip Pullman, other books by the author for this age group include:

I was a Rat or the Scarlet Slippers
The Scarecrow and his Servant
Philip Pullman is most well-known for the His Dark Materials Trilogy for children 9+

Find out about fireworks
Watch a short section of this video showing a firework festival in Japan
Best Fireworks Festival “Nagaoka” Nigata JAPAN – YouTube

Find out more about fireworks including their history and the different effects they can make
Firework Facts for Kids (

What are the Different Types of Firework? – Firework Crazy (

Fireworks can be very dangerous find out about safety here Firework Safety – UK Fire Service Resources

Find out more about volcanoes
Mount Merapi is an active volcano in Java, Indonesia. Find out more about volcanoes here:

Volcanoes – BBC Bitesize

Volcano facts | National Geographic Kids (

All About Volcanoes: How They Form, Eruptions & More! – YouTube