Saturday, July 18, 2009

When the Whistle Blows by Fran Cannon Slayton

Jimmy lives in Rowlesburg, West Virginia, during the 1940s. He does all the things boys do in the small mountain town: plays a mean game of football, pulls the unforgettable Halloween prank with his friends in “the Platoon,” and promises to head off into the woods on the first day of hunting season— no matter what. He also knows his father belongs to a secret society, and is determined to uncover the mysteries behind it! But it is a midnight encounter with a train that shows Jimmy the man his father really is.
When the Whistle Blows is mixture of historical fiction, small town memories, and the final years of the stream engine.
It was actually pretty good historical fiction material, but to me it was more of a coming of age story (or even memoir) and reminded me a lot of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn.

The story takes place on All Hollow's Eve (Halloween) starting the year
of 1943 and ending with Jim's final memory of his father in 1949. Throughout those final six years with his father, Jim experiences some valuable school lessons, his first football season, trains, and the town's secret society. Besides Jim's compelling story, When the Whistle Blows brought to life the world of trains, their makers, and how they shaped our nation-one whistle at a time. Overall, Slayton did a great job on her debut novel and I hope we see more from her in the future.

When the Whistle Blows is Slayton's first novel for young readers and was in fact based the on the life of her grandfather.

Pages: 162 Year Published: June 2009 Genre: Historical/1900s/WWII
Age Group: YA, ages 10+ Content: Very mild language (1-2 words)
Personally Enjoyed It: 4/5 Rating: (according to content)


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