Friday, July 24, 2009

When The Whistle Blows

Wow! I finished this book a couple of days ago and have been itching to talk about it. And I did manage to talk about it with some of my students. But tonight, I wanted to give a shout-out to Franny and tell her THANKS! For this amazing gift of a book based on family stories. I cannot even imagine what her family thinks of this, but I bet they are durn proud of her. And love her.

WHEN THE WHISTLE BLOWS is episodic. It reminded me very much of Richard Peck's A LONG WAY FROM CHICAGO and Graham Salisbury's BLUE SKIN OF THE SEA, both that I loved. I like short stories, connected short stories and of course long stories. But it takes a special person to pack so much into a short story. Fran's prose does double and triple duty ... there's not a wasted word and like Mozart's music, pitch perfect. I am in danger of mixing up all my metaphors, so I'll stop here.

My husband recently joined the Knights of Columbus, a Catholic men's group, and the Society reminded me of that. This book shows the importance of fraternal bonds. I loved being part of a Secret Society, of experiencing brotherhood and the love between a father and a son. I think it is important to for boys to be boys and to bond with other boys by running around in pack and testing their mettle. The same can be said for girls, but boys and girls are inherently different and after a certain age, boys need to be with boys and girls need to be with girls. I'm not saying that boys and girls shouldn't be together or be friends, but the bonds could never be deep. And if they do run deep and strong, we risk having boys and girls in an inappropriate relationship.

I laughed. I cried. And I am inspired to continue working on my family stories -- I never thought I'd share them with the world, because I am writing these primarily for my children, but perhaps I will try to shape them for a wider audience.
My husband will be reading this book aloud so that my daughter can also enjoy these stories. And of course, my son will race ahead and finish this book in a day. That kid, I have to limit his reading ... I have to dole it out an hour at a time so that he gets his chores done.

Thank you, Fran, for writing this book. I can't wait to see what you come up with next. And thank you Angela for holding a contest and picking my entry.


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