Customer Reviews for

When the Whistle Blows

Average Rating 4.5
( 8 )
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  • Posted December 2, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Family History

    Reading more like a collection of short stories than a novel Slayton has created a touching and intimate look at the life of her main character Jimmy and his family. Transitioning from one year to the next using the central focus of one particular day (in this case Halloween) allows for each individual snapshot to flow together in a way that provides readers a great view of Jimmy's life and how he's lived it. The transitions are abrupt in the way that we are able to discern that a new year has come upon us but not so abrupt that the story doesn't work or that we're unable to follow along with the premise.

    Where Slayton does a remarkable job is in showcasing the strong bond between Jimmy and his family. She does so delicately and in muted tones as we see festive, emotional and sometimes tragic events throughout the eyes of this boy. Slayton subtly shows his growth from a curious and precocious youngster into a thoughtful man while allowing him to maintain core values of tradition and family. Informing the story is the appearance of the local railroad through which the reader is threaded through the passage of time. Ever present in scene, dialogue or just as a thought in the mind of the reader it was this element that made the story more about home than anything else. The vivid imagery of Rowlesburg (Jimmy's hometown) and it's railroad industry allows the reader to really feel the character's physical surroundings and relate to why it is that Jimmy has such a fondness for his hometown. In the end we learn that his life isn't just all about the people he encountered but the place where he grew up and cherished. It informed his relationships and his decisions in a way any living and breathing family member would yet didn't stand out as over the top or too dramatic a character.

    In my opinion this book would be a great quick read for a reluctant boy. Not only does it focus on a male protagonist the situations tend to show situations that a boy may relate well to - pranks, sports, and general mischief. Even better, is the fact that within those elements are interwoven the more tangibly emotional aspects of family dynamics, work ethic and sense of belonging. There are some soulful and meaningful lessons to be learned.

    This is not to say that the book is not appealing to girls as well as I enjoyed it a great deal. I just envision it's greatest strength (characterization and plot) appealing to boys who don't typically enjoy reading as much as playing sports or video games. Further, the fact that it is a quick read doesn't diminish it's impact on the reader. The story is in depth and emotional providing an entertaining and enjoyable journey from start to finish.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 31, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Reviewed by Joan Stradling for

    WHEN THE WHISTLE BLOWS follows Jimmy Cannon through four years of his life in the railroad town of Rowlesburg, West Virginia. Jimmy grows up before the reader's eyes as he struggles to come to terms with his changing world. <BR/><BR/>From Halloween pranks, to football games, to secret societies, Jimmy rushes through life like one of the steam trains he loves. <BR/><BR/>But the lessons he learns will stay in his mind and heart long after the train whistle is silent. And they will stay with the reader, too. <BR/><BR/>I specifically enjoyed how each chapter was a new year of Jimmy's life and always began on his father's birthday, which happens to be Halloween. <BR/><BR/>Jimmy started out as a boy and, by the end, was well on his way to being a man. The book took me full circle on a journey I will never forget. <BR/><BR/>Though steam trains are no longer a prevalent part of our society, I will still think of this book and remember Jimmy's journey whenever I hear a train whistle blow.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 27, 2013

    Can totaly relate

    This is one of my all time favorite books and i know where everything was/ is because its where I grew up as well all of the storys are so relistic any rail road or small town kid can relate and understand

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 19, 2012

    Heart breaking and touching

    This is absolutly one of the best books ive ever read in my entire life. I smiled, i laughed, i even cried. This is one amazing heart touching book that i think anyone would enjoy.

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  • Posted April 21, 2010

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    A peak at the past

    This was a very enjoyable book about small town life in a the late 1930 through the 1940's. The story was told in Jimmy's voice and it was very easy to read and get into. Each year you get a snapshot of one day, All Hallows Eve, which also happens to be his father's birthday. Seeing Jimmy grow and change and watching the changes made to the town when the switch is made from steam engines to diesels shows a lot about the past and what happens to a town and to a community when their source for jobs and incomes changes. Jimmy felt real and authentic. I enjoyed watching him try to catch up to his two older brothers, dreaming about becoming a steam mechanic, and playing in a championship football season. The interconnectedness of the past and the future was very clear and was a great message. I think readers young and old will enjoy this book!

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  • Posted August 18, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Can Read This One More Than Once

    I enjoyed this book immensely. Though it falls into a young age category (9-12) I believe it's also a good read for adults. It is well written and holds your interest to the very end.funny, along with a few tears, but very believable experiences. Keep a tissue handy. I liked the individual stories and the way they flowed to a good ending. Overall, it was a fun read for me. First book of this author? Unbelievable!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 20, 2012

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 26, 2012

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