Monday, February 15, 2016
Marvelous Middle Grade Monday: NO TALKING by Andrew Clements
This was one of the titles for the 2016 Oregon Battle of the Books, 3rd-5th grade.
What It's About (from Goodreads):
The fifth-grade girls and the fifth-grade boys at Laketon Elementary don't get along very well. But the real problem is that these kids are loud and disorderly. That's why the principal uses her red plastic bullhorn. A lot.
Then one day Dave Packer, a certified loudmouth, bumps into an idea -- a big one that makes him try to keep quiet for a whole day. But what does Dave hear during lunch? A girl, Lynsey Burgess, jabbering away. So Dave breaks his silence and lobs an insult. And those words spark a contest: Which team can say the fewest words during two whole days? And it's the boys against the girls.
How do the teachers react to the silence? What happens when the principal feels she's losing control? And will Dave and Lynsey plunge the whole school into chaos?
Dave Packer was in the middle of his fourth hour of not talking. He was also in the middle of his social studies class on a Monday morning in the middle of November. And Laketon Elementary School was in the middle of a medium-size town in the middle of New Jersey."
What I thought, by my 9-year-old:
"I give it 4 and a half stars, because it's about school and it's funny. I liked the competition between the boys and the girls. My favorite characters were Dave and Lynsey. I didn't give it five stars because sometimes I felt it was confusing--the teachers thought the 5th grade was noisy, but they got mad when the fifth graders stopped talking.
From a Writer's Perspective:
I think it's interesting to examine the narrative strategy here. Andrew Clements uses an obtrusive narrator. (The next paragraph after the opening paragraph has the line "this isn't the time to tell about that.") My hunch is that a novice writer wouldn't get away with that, and that agents and editors might balk--after all, the popular POVs currently are 1st-person and close 3rd-person close. Interestingly, my 9-year-old made no mention of the story-telling devices, but was sucked into the story. I mean, who doesn't like a girl versus boy story at this age? (All three of my boys loved the Boys Against The Girls series by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor.)
About the Author (from Andrew Clement's website):
Andrew Clements is the author of the enormously popular Frindle. More than 10 million copies of his books have been sold, and he has been nominated for a multitude of state awards, including two Christopher Awards and an Edgar Award. His popular works include About Average, Troublemaker, Extra Credit, Lost and Found, No Talking, Room One, Lunch Money, and more. He is also the author of the Benjamin Pratt & the Keepers of the School series. He lives with his wife in Maine and has four grown children. Visit him at AndrewClements.com.