Monday, January 22, 2007
Shafer, Audrey. 2006. THE MAILBOX. New York: Delacorte Press. ISBN 0385733445 [Suggested Grade Levels 4-8]
After years in foster homes, 12-year-old Gabe is unsure of what to think about being sent to live with his uncle Vernon. Gabe soon realizes that in spite of the crusty old Vietnam veteran’s eccentric habits, life with him is vastly better than being in a foster home. When Gabe returns home from school one day and finds uncle Vernon dead, he is paralyzed with fear at the thought of returning to the foster system, so does nothing, tells no one. When Vernon’s body disappears the next day, Gabe is plunged into a suspenseful relationship with a mysterious letter writer who corresponds with him via letters left in the mailbox. Readers see how Gabe’s life changes as he becomes more connected to those around him and eventually learns the identity of the letter writer and his relationship with Gabe’s uncle. The story comes to a satisfying conclusion as Gabe learns more about his uncle’s experience in the war and realizes that support exists for him from other caring adults in his life.
Discuss what life would be like living in the foster care system. What does it take to make up a family – two people, more? Discuss what life would be like on a daily basis if one were suddenly left all alone.
Other books for children about boys in difficult situations coping with the lack of a parent:
Auch, M.J. WING NUT. ISBN 0805075313
White, Ruth. THE SEARCH FOR BELLE PRATER. ISBN 037430853
By Tammy Korns