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THE HEROIC LIFE OF AL CAPSELLA  use of a range of strategies to influence

by Judith Clarke audiences

Al Capsella wants to be cool, to fit in with the  edit writing for clarity, coherence and
other teenagers in his neighbourhood. And consistency of style, and proofread and correct
part of fitting in is to be like all the others - to spelling, punctuation and grammatical errors
be "normal". But despite his heroic efforts Al
faces a crippling pair of obstacles, his  critically evaluate spoken language of others
PARENTS. Tuning In
Before reading
Mr and Mrs Capsella are not just uncool; they 1. What does it mean to be ‘normal’?
are a complete embarrassment to their
fourteen-year old son. First off, they 2. Write a fictional or reflective journal entry that
christened him ALMERIC, not something demonstrates how you may have been embarrassed
fashionable, like Brett or Scott, and now they by your family - at least half a page.
just won't conform to what Al and all his pals
know are "normal" parents.
Whilst reading
Al wants parents who are: "Perfectly ordinary and unobtrusive, quiet and 3. Start a list of characters from the novel. Include a
orderly, well-dressed and polite, hardworking and as wealthy as picture of what you think the character would look like
possible. They should be seen and not heard. And PREFERABLY NOT
SEEN VERY MUCH AT ALL!" and a direct quote from the novel describing each
Along with schoolmates like Louis, Al has his own plans for surviving the 4. Summarise each chapter as you read – either in
abnormal antics of parents, grandparents and teachers. But in the end Al full sentences or in dot points. Include at least one
discovers that being really normal is the weirdest thing of all.
direct quote from each chapter.
Through this novel study all students must 5. Start a glossary of terms that are new to you or
develop and demonstrate: that you are unsure of. Add to this throughout the
 chapter summaries, character studies and novel study.
glossary are complete and identify key
ideas/issues/words Finding Out
 identification of the ideas, themes and issues Chapter Questions
in the text 6. Who is Al’s best friend? What
 personal reflections on challenging themes impression do we have of him from the
and issues first chapter?
 development of extended personal responses 7. What do we learn about Mrs Capsella
 provide supporting detail from the incident at the school?
8. What drives Al’s ambition to be ‘normal’? Year 8 class (think of how each audience would
9. How do characters such as The Shadow and Dr require different information).
Spinner help to highlight Al’s story? What other b. In a small group, script and perform a role play
characters play similar roles in the story? depicting someone in your family coming into
10. In chapter 8, Al and Mrs Capsella are getting ready your classroom to embarrass you.
for Parent/Teacher interviews. Re-write this exchange c. Choose a teen issue to research and present to
from Mrs Capsella’s point of view. the class.
d. Negotiate your own Speak Out task with Ms
Going Further
Creative response
Choose one of the following tasks:
a. Design some fashion ensembles for Mrs Capsella
using items she may have purchased from an op
shop. Make a poster displaying your favourite
outfit. Taking Action
b. Write a journal entry that depicts Al’s time with Extended Response
his grandparents differently – imagine the ways Choose one of the following tasks to write a
he might destroy the normalcy of their daily structured essay, using the TEEL plan.
c. Al has grown up and has children of his own.
Write a week’s diary entries of the difficulties his 1. “Since I’ve gone on to High School, being normal
children face. has become a matter of importance…” (pg.4)
d. Negotiate your own creative task with What are the challenges faced by Al and all
Ms Waayers. other High School students?

2. “Is there something the matter with

Speak Out Presentation them?” I asked gently. (pg. 110)
Choose one of the following tasks: Can Al ever be normal when the people he
a. You are to write a book review – choose is surrounded by all have ‘something the
an audience of Year 8 teachers, or a matter with them’?
3. “You don’t have to tell me everything sixty
times,” I complained. “I’m not a baby.” (pg.
How does this book demonstrate a right of passage
into adulthood?