Monday, November 06, 2006

Whale Talk by Chris Crutcher

Welcome to the first of our blog discussions! The first book up for discussion is Chris Crutcher's Whale Talk. Many of you beat me to the comments! Sorry I was slow in getting the first/starter post going...we had some folks who joined in late and just got copies of the book and I wanted to make sure everyone had a chance to catch up before we got started. But...it looks like we are good to go.

I thought I would start off by sharing with you why I selected this book to start. Chris Crutcher is one of my favorite authors and I think he "speaks" to young people in a very real voice. His characters are like so many of the kids that walk our halls- so many teens can identify with them. His insight into young people's lives comes from his experiences as a director of an alternative school and from his 20 years as a counselor to troubled children...so he has a lot to draw from! Also, when I selected this title it was "Banned Book Week" and all of Chris Crutcher's books have been censored or challenged at one time. I thought this was a timely choice!

I loved reading everyone's comments- and agree with many of them. Chris K. hit onto one of the topics that really bothered me...why the football jocks were so against Chris wearing his brother's jacket??!! I first read the book years ago and I remember that bothered me long after I finished the book...and it bothered me again when I read it the second time through. Glad I wasn't the only one.

I thought Rebecca's comment about Crutcher perhaps tackling too much in just one book was on target. There were time when it was tough to keep track of who had what issue. But I agree (and several people made this comment) that the book did give an accurate account of cliques in schools. I loved TJ for bucking the system. Nothing like a good underdog to get me cheering. And again, I agree that this is something students need to see more of- perhaps to provide inspiration. But on the positive side to a lot going on in one novel...there was a variety of characters for students to identify with.

I think TJ learns a lot about himself and his leadership abilities during this experience. I think Amanda's comments about what we can control in our lives is also very telling..."there is so much we can't control, there is power in knowing that you can control your own thoughts, actions, and conceptions of others." I think TJ really learns this "life lesson."

I know there are a few more folks out there who have to "blog in" and if you've already commented feel free to respond to others comments.

8 comments:

darla said...

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darla said...

Whale Talk talks to kids in their own language and will certainly get them involved, but it disturbs me to see the deterioration of our language. From the hallways, into the classroom, and now into our literature, students are showing their rebellion through the choice of words used. TJ reminds me of a lost soul from the sixties and I admire his ideals, motives, and the subsequent results.

Kathy J. said...

Darla, I thought your comment about language was interesting. I get agree, however, I think I am getting desensitized to the use of language in YA literature. I think most books I've read lately use kids' "own language." I wonder if this is to make them more appealing to kids, or more "real" to them.

Kathy

Jim West said...

I finally finished the book. I enjoyed it, but I have to agree that I think the author tried to do too much in the book, and some of it seemed to only skim the surface. The end seemed rushed to me. I think that many students could relate to the book in one way or another. However, I did not like the amount of cursing that was in the book. I know that this is the way may children and students talk, but we try to emphasize appropriate language in school and to assign a book that has cursing in it to this degee seems hypocritical. I teach special ed students, and not a day goes by that I don't have to address inappropriate language. How would I be looked at if I assigned such a book in my class? I know this may sound prude, but I truly feel that there is a break down of the moral code in today's society. Manners and respect are not what they used to be, and I find it sad.....

Darla said...

Yes, Jim. I agree.

Darla said...

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Darla said...

Hi

Darla said...

I did not realize that teenagers have these types of taboos. Who would know that there would be a problem with wearing a letterman jacket if you were not in a sport?
I wonder what problems exist here at BHS.