Friday, January 15, 2010

Book Letter: Love, Aubrey

One of the ways I assess reading in Reader's Workshop is through using book letters. Every two weeks I will post a book letter task and example. This week I am focusing on character using Love, Aubrey by Suzanne LaFleur.

Book letter task: PDF
Book letter task: Doc

Dear class,

Love, AubreyI am writing to tell you about a book I read recently and its remarkable main character. The book, Love, Aubrey, by Suzanne LaFleur tells the story of Aubrey, who has been left on her own by her mother. Aubrey feeds herself, looks after herself and even buys herself a fish, determined to stand on her own. This need to stand on her own carries throughout the book, as Aubrey’s grandmother comes to look after her. This is not a book with a huge plot; rather it is a book with a lot about character.

The main character is eleven-year old Aubrey, an independent, spirited girl who is struggling with a lot of emotional weight on her shoulders. When Aubrey moves to live with her grandmother, she quietly follows her grandmother’s lists of chores, and tries to make friends with the girl next door. Slowly, with the help of her grandmother, her friend and the guidance counsellor at her new school, she begins to come to terms with her new life and the events that led up to it.

I really like Aubrey because of the way she approaches things in her life. It would have been easy to write Aubrey as a depressing character, or as someone you would like to shake a little, but instead you see her a bit like an onion, with more layers peeling off as you keep reading. She’s a very real character, and I could imagine knowing someone like her.

Aubrey’s best qualities – her resilience and her ability to look after herself – are also the things which make life difficult for her. She is resilient when she picks up the pieces, when she makes the best of a bad situation. She is able to look after herself on her own when her mother leaves, and believes she will be able to continue this when things in her life change. But these elements of Aubrey mean that she finds is very difficult to lean on the people around her who want to be able to help her.

Aubrey reminds me of several other characters in books I have enjoyed. She reminds me of Francesca in Melina Marchetta’s Saving Francesca, and the way she tries to keep going on, without help, when her mother struggles with depression. She also reminds me of Zoe from A Crooked Kind of Perfect by Linda Urban. Zoe spends a lot of time on her own, especially when dealing with her father’s agoraphobia.

I don’t think Love, Aubrey would have been as half a good without a strong character like Aubrey. In a book without much of a plot, I think it’s really important to have a strong, multi-layered character like Aubrey. The careful unpeeling of her character also allowed the story to unravel in an engaging way.

Example letter: PDF
Example letter: Doc

Find more book letters here


A Reader's Community

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Queensland, Australia
A Reader's Community is a place to find ideas, information, resources and recommendations about Reader's Workshop.

This Blog has five main types of posts.

About Reader's Workshop - information about Reader's Workshop in my classroom and how it works

Reader's Workshop Tools - resources you can access and use to help you with reader's workshop

Book talks - Book recommendations of two or three books centred around a particular theme

Book letters - in-depth reviews of one particular book

Reader's Workshop Links - Short links lists to help you find more information
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