Monday, December 14, 2009
When the Whistle Blows, by Fran Cannon Slayton
Seven Halloweens over seven consecutive years told in seven chapters. Each one reveals a different aspect of Jimmy Cannon's life and that of his friends and town. But most of all, each one tells a part of Jimmy's relationship with his father -- a railroad worker in their town in West Virginia in the 1940s. The stories are boys' stories (spying on a secret meeting, vandalizing a car, winning a championship football game, etc.) and told with a nice folksy warmth that evokes the spirit of Mark Twain.
Given the timelessness of the stories, the individual independent strength of each chapter, and the literary flavor of the entire endeavor, this book has "instant classic" written all over it. I'm sure it will be quickly picked up on by school teachers and other book-report assigners. So act fast if you want to enjoy the book on its own innocent merits. As for me, I can recognize the greatness, but it wasn't the type of book I really like. Historicals don't tend to appeal to me and nothing makes me glaze over faster than male bonding (and football). Still, I'm sure others will like this.