When the Whistle Blows: A Reprise

when-the-whistle-blowsCindy: Why don’t I immediately listen to Lynn when she really begs me to read a book? She wrote a solo blog for When the Whistle Blows (Philomel, 2009) last October when I hadn’t gotten to it. Everything about the premise spoke to me: stand-alone chapters that build into a cohesive novel, a complex father-son relationship, a look at a close-knit railroading community and the changes that technology brings, and Halloween pranks. Having read this now, I’m even sorrier that I didn’t get to it in time to join Lynn in championing it as one of the best of last year…for sure it was one of the most overlooked. In the foreward, debut author Fran Cannon Slayton gives thanks for a father who told her stories about her grandfather, a foreman on the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad in Rowlesburg, West Virginia in the 1940s, the setting for this book. That influence is evident in Slayton’s compelling storytelling and I can’t wait to see what she gifts us with next.  By the way, although there’s plenty of humor here, this book belongs on the “SOB” portion of the Sob-O-Meter display! I listened to this on audio (Brilliance, 2009) and was crying while I drove during the final stories. The next time Lynn “strongly encourages” me to read something, I will jump on it! If you’re smart, you will too.

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About the Author:

Cindy Dobrez and Lynn Rutan are Booklist reviewers and middle-school librarians who have chaired both ALA’s Best Books for Young Adults and the Michael L. Printz Award for YA Literature committees. Follow Bookends on Twitter at @BookendsBlog. You can also find Cindy at @cdobrez and Lynn at @482april.

6 Comments on "When the Whistle Blows: A Reprise"

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  1. scopenotes@gmail.com' Scope Notes says:

    Cindy, I second your comments. A standout in 09 and overlooked indeed.

  2. dmenosky@indiana.edu' Dorothy Menosky says:

    When the Whistle Blows was one of my favorite books last year. I urged folks to read it, but it didn’t get picked up. Not sure why.

  3. This is a book that is going to need good booktalking and hand-selling. The cover art does it no favors for teen appeal. Glad to hear some more enthusiasm for it. Hope others read it based on our collective recommendations. The audio version really is fabulous, too. It would make a great car trip book for a family with older boys.–Cindy

  4. I just loved this as well – it reminded me of some of my favorite Gary Paulsen collections, like How Angel Petersen Got His Name. It’s a shame that the cover doesn’t bring more readers in. Would love to hear kids’ reactions. Have you had any luck handselling it to kids?

  5. nigrelli@gmail.com' joanna says:

    Loved it as well. We picked it for our Best of 2009 list in hopes that it finds more readers. [http://www.austinlibrary.com/reading/yfiction_2009.cfm] I think part of the problem is that the cover is so incredibly unremarkable.

  6. This was one of my favorites, as well. Slayton is a fantastic writer. The cover, I think, is an issue, along with the title. Although on the inside, this is a boy book, there’s nothing that says ‘boy’ on the outside.

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