Just Imagine

Walter Tull’s Scrapbook


About the Author

Michaela Morgan, author of Walter Tull’s Scrapbook has written many popular books for children. She writes fiction, picture books, poetry and non-fiction. Her recent collection of poetry, Wonderland: Alice in Poetry was shortlisted for the 2017 CLiPPA Award.

About the Book

The inspirational true story of Walter Tull’s life is vividly reimagined in scrapbook form, drawing on photographs, documents and records of his life. This fictionalised first person account tells the true story of Walter Tull, footballer for Tottenham Hotspur and the first black officer in the British Army. Tull’s leadership and courage in the trenches of the First World War won him a recommendation for a Military Cross that was never awarded because of the colour of his skin. The story takes the reader from his childhood and life in an orphanage, through his footballing years, to his tragic death, aged 29, on the Somme.

Before Reading

On the whiteboard write, Walter Tull is a hero of our time’ (taken from the back cover). Ask the pupils what they think this book is going to be about. What sorts of things would a hero do? What does ‘of our time’ indicate? Do you get any ideas when this story might take place? Is Walter a common name today?

Read the full description from the back cover and hand out the books. Invite the pupils to talk about anything they find interesting on the front and back covers. What does the word ‘scrapbook’ indicate about the format?

Making connections: has anyone ever made a scrapbook or know someone that has made a scrapbook?  Why do people make scrapbooks? What sorts of things would you put into a scrapbook?

During Reading

My name is Walter Tull

  • How many years ago was Walter Tull born? Do you know who the monarch was at that time? If not, find out.
  • Find out if the school that Walter Tull attended in Folkestone is still a school today.
  • Can you work out how far Daniel Tull had to travel to reach England?
  • How old was Walter when his father died?
  • Walter’s grandfather was slave but his father was a carpenter. What does it mean to be a slave? Does slavery still exist today?

The home

  • Can you imagine how Walter would have felt when he arrived at the children’s home? Prompt the children to consider the full range of emotions he might have experienced and use evidence from the text to support their ideas.
  • Compare Walter Tull’s timetable with your typical school day. What is similar? What is different? Would you prefer to live then or now?

Football 1990 – 1909

  • Look at the photo of the Charlton FC winners. How is this photo similar or different to a FC photograph that might be taken today (consider colour, arrangement of players, formality, kit)?
  • Find out about the different football kits Walter Tull would have worn in his football career. How have football kits changed since Walter’s time?
  • What do you think about Walter’s views on amateur and professional sport? Do you agree or disagree? Give reasons for your ideas.

Spurs 1909 – 11

  • What opinion does the journalist writing in the London Football Star have of Walter Tull and the Bristol crowd? How do you know that?
  • Do you think attitudes have changed since 1911 when this match took place?

A new start

  • What does it mean when it says Walter ‘lost heart.’? Can we tell if this is a fact or an opinion (because it is a fictionalised first person narrative the writer is telling us that Walter ‘lost heart’ but there is no primary source evidence on the page to support that idea. There may however be good reasons to make this conjecture).
  • What was the football battalion?
  • Read the text on the recruitment poster. How does it attempt to persuade young men to join the army?

Marching off to war

  • What is ‘khaki’? Do you think khaki is a good colour for an army uniform (previously the British Army had red jackets)? It is an unusual spelling for an English word. Look up the origins in a dictionary of etymology. Where does the word come from? Make the point that words that look strange in English are often ‘borrowed’ from other languages.
  • Why do the soldiers sing when they are marching? Play one or two of the songs (make sure they are suitable for the age of the pupils) or look at the lyrics. (‘Hush Here Comes a Whizz Bang’, ‘Leap Frog’, ‘Good-bye-ee’ and ‘Long Way to Tipperary’).
  • Which phrases from the Battle Phrase Book are familiar to you (they may be known but used in different context). Which phrases are new to you?

A Christmas miracle

  • What is a ‘truce’? Can you think of any other instances where you have heard this word?
  • Why do you think this section is called a Christmas Miracle? Was it a miracle?

The battle continues

  • What is the Morning Hate? Why do you think the soldiers gave it this name?
  • What impression do you get of life in the trenches from this account? (Prompt pupils to give a range of responses supported by the evidence e.g. hard work, routine, dirty, frightening, boring, taking pleasure in small things).

My birthday

  • What are the causes and effects of shell shock?
  • What do you imagine Walter might have felt to receive a birthday card like the one in the photograph, while he was fighting at the front? (Accept a range of emotions but encourage the pupils to give reasons for their suggestions).

Ordered to the Somme

  • What is a quagmire?
  • Reference is made to horses and men drowning in mud. Is it possible to drown in mud?
  • Read ‘The Commission on the Special Reserve of Officers’. What does it mean? Why couldn’t this happen today? (reference Race Relations Act 1966)
  • Why do you think the army ignored the rule book and gave Walter Tull an officer’s commission?


Why does Walter Tull say, ‘Battles that the newspapers claim have been victories don’t seem like victories here’?

After Reading

  • If you were making a case for Walter Tull to be recognised for the Great Lives programme, what arguments would you put forward to support your case?
  • Create a timeline to show the major events in Walter’s life. Add key dates such as the death of Queen Victoria, the dates for the First World War etc.
  • Write a letter from Walter to Edward from London when he has been signed to Tottenham Hotspur.

If you enjoyed this book, you might like…

Marcia Williams Archie’s War

Barroux Line of Fire

Sonya Hartnett The Silver Donkey