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Tuesday, July 21, 2009

When the Whistle Blows

When the Whistle BlowsAuthor: Fran Slayton¬°
Rating:
Reading Level: 5th to 8th

Pages: 160
Publisher: Philomel, Penguin Young Readers
Edition: Hardcover, 2009 (from galley)

Judging by the somewhat muted and sleepy cover, I thought I was going to read a "pensive, quiet" coming-of-age, historical fiction. It turned out that the story is NOT all that quiet: every episode falls on an All Hallow's Eve from early-40s to late-40s. You get the thrill of the secret Society's weird, slightly off and scary way to honor a recently deceased member; you get the Halloween prank gone awry; you get the blood-pumping, almost heart-stopping football game actions; and you get the death and danger working on the steam-engined trains. But then, you also get so much HEART between the main character and his father. It is an entirely "male" book, glaringly so -- you hardly see a female character and they hardly have even a speaking turn. It's all... very, macho, but oddly also very tender. And so much humor and humorous wisdom. I am not ashamed to say that I cried hard at the end of the tale... mourning the passing of a man and of an era so lovingly and convincingly portrayed by the author.

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