Kathleen's Reviews > When the Whistle Blows

When the Whistle Blows by Fran Cannon Slayton
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's review
Aug 23, 09

bookshelves: ya, j-fiction
Read in August, 2009

From 1943 through 1949, Jimmy Cannon chronicles the steps of his coming-of-age over a series of All Hallows' Eves in Rowlesburg, West Virginia, a railroad town killed by the coming of diesel engines.
I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book but I have difficulty imagining a middle or high school student picking it up on his or her own. It's the sort of thing you might teach in an eighth grade English classroom, providing lots of opportunities for good discussion - both of the setting (and economic issues it reveals) and of the author's careful construction of this loving memory of a vanished time. Boys required to read it would find it well-paced, with plenty of action, and there is enough emotional depth to appeal to girls as well. And the teacher would welcome the opportunity to reread it. There's a lot to admire here.

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