Sunday, December 02, 2007

No Talking - by Andrew Clement

Andrew Clements has done it again. Those who like Frindle or the Landry News will also enjoy No Talking; in fact, they may even like it more. War of the sexes is going on among the fifth-graders at Laketon Elementary School and Dave and Lynsey suddenly become the generals when they make a bet as to whether the boys or girls can manage to say the fewest words for two days.

It all started when Dave was working in his report on India and read about Gandhi and came across the statement, “For many years, one day each week Gandhi did not speak at all. Gandhi believed this was a way to bring order to his mind.” Dave decided his mind could use a little order so he tried to go a whole day without talking, which went really well, until he had a run-in with Lynsey. Their run-in sparks the bet, and suddenly all the fifth-graders are thinking of language in a whole new way. They decide if an adult in school asks them a question they can answer, but they can only use three words and contractions will only count as one word.

I really enjoyed the unbiased, all-knowing narration that said things like, “It’s also a shame to have to report this, but Lynsey was just as proud and stubborn as Dave.”

If this book is used in a classroom, I’m sure it would inspire a lot of thought debate about language and gender.

I think it’s also going to cause some debate among teachers because it doesn’t exactly portray them favorably. The principal HATES the competition because she likes complete control so she does not appreciate that the kids she’s been trying to shush for years are quiet because she was not the one to quiet them. Another teacher, Mr. Burton fights for the kids’ right, but merely as a matter of self-interest because he thinks it will be a good topic for his thesis. Meanwhile, Mrs. Marlow fights to stop the contest from disrupting her lesson plans, but then gives up because, “demanding that they all go back to being noisy, self-absorbed chatterbrains—it simply wasn’t logical.” OUCH! While the principal comes around and learns her lesson, the other teachers don’t and I was a little disappointed by how selfish they were. On the other hand, kids will probably appreciate the portrayal of teachers who are out to get them and love the book all the more for it.


Matt W. said...

I have this book as a choice on my book club shelf in my classroom. It is really new, so none of my book clubs have chosen it yet - but I think it is going to be a GREAT discussion starter - as you said, especially on the topics of gender and communication.
I try not to have too many of the same auther on my book club choices shelf (instead I usually just have one set of an auther, then more of that auther on another chapter book shelf) but Andrew Clements' books are just too good! They are almost always an appropriate reading level AND maturity level - not to mention full of juicy discussion material.
Thanks for the review - love your blog.

Anonymous said...

this books suck teachers think were stupid this book is terriable dont read this crappy book

ACM said...

My little sister is reading this book currently, so I got back into it. It is a great book, because it shows kids doing something different in school. I think that teachers should realize that it is just an author's point of view, and not against teachers in general at all.