Synopses & Reviews
Jimmy lives in Rowlesburg, West Virginia, during the 1940s. He does all the things boys do in the small mountain town: plays a mean game of football, pulls the unforgettable Halloween prank with his friends in "the Platoon," and promises to head off into the woods on the first day of hunting season no matter what. He also knows his father belongs to a secret society, and is determined to uncover the mysteries behind it. But it is a midnight encounter with a train that shows Jimmy the man his father really is.
Newcomer Fran Cannon Slayton's powerful first novel captures the serendipity of boyhood by shining a spotlight on the peak adventures of Jimmy's life. But at its heart, this is a story about a boy and his father in a time when trains reigned supreme.
"Slayton's sweet and nostalgic debut novel tells the story of seven consecutive Halloweens, starting in 1943, in the life of teenage Jimmy Cannon. He wants nothing but to follow in the footsteps of his father and older brothers and work for the railroad, which runs through his hometown of Rowlesburg, W. Va. His dad, however, believes that the railroads are dying, and that Jimmy's future is elsewhere. As each year passes, readers get glimpses of Jimmy's small-town life: a late-night wake for a favorite uncle, a prank gone awry, a robbery with nearly disastrous consequences, etc. Slayton takes a few wrong turns, notably the chapters featuring the football championship and the boorish school principal who opposes hunting season, both of which have clichéd resolutions. Though the nature of the book-devoid of Jimmy's growth over the 364 days between each chapter-can feel disjointed, Jimmy, his father and the townsfolk have unique, compelling voices that nicely convey the sense of small-town America during and after World War II. Ages 10-up." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"When the Whistle Blows is reminiscent of classic tales by Jack London, William Golding and Robert Louis Stevenson, yet carries the remarkable, fresh voice of its author. Fran Cannon Slayton should be extremely proud of this, her debut novel." Ellen Hopkins, author of Crank and Identical
"[E]ngrossing....An unassuming masterpiece." Kirkus Reviews (Starred Review)
"This is nostalgia done right....A polished paean to a bygone time and place." School Library Journal (Starred Review)
The powerful first novel by newcomer Slayton captures the serendipity of boyhood by shining a spotlight on the peak adventures of the life of a boy growing up in a small town in 1940s West Virginia.
Jimmy Cannon loves trains. And he wants to work on the railroad more than anything when he grows up. After all, his father is the foreman in Rowlesburg, and all the men in his family have worked on the rails. But times are changing in the 1940s, and JimmyÕs father sees a different future for his son. Join Jimmy on the ride of a lifetime, through midnight Halloween romps, the championship football game, and a secret society in this coming-of-age story set during the last of the railroad days.
About the Author
Fran Cannon Slayton lives in Charlottesville, Virginia.