Tuesday, August 9, 2011

No Talking

A review featuring Bit (Bibliophile In Training), age 6

I wanted to read a contemporary fiction with Bit next so I chose Andrew Clements's No Talking.  I love all of Clements's books and while my favorite will probably always be Frindle, No Talking is a great one too.  I chose this one because I knew Bit would relate well to it.  Because Bit is an Unshushable.  Her mouth never stops, even when she sleeps.  On the flip side of that though she loves to play the Quiet Game.  She will be quiet for that and she is super competitive and usually wins.  So I knew this book would be right up her alley.  (The only part she didn't get was the acrimony between the boys and the girls because, much to her father's chagrin, Bit has never thought boys have cooties.)
The Story
When doing some research on India for his social studies class fifth grader Dave Packer discovers that Mahatma Gandhi would sometimes go a whole day  without talking.  So Dave decides to give it a try.  It is going quite well until his silence at lunch allows him to overhear Lynsey Burgess going on and on about a ridiculous sweater.  Dave loses it and yells at Lynsey telling her that girls basically have the inability to keep quiet for any amount of time.  Which Lynsey does not like at all.  The next thing you know Dave and Lynsey have started a contest and are dragging the entire fifth grade into it with them.  For 48 hours the boys and girls of the fifth grade will not speak unless an adult at school asks them a question and even then they can only use three word answers.   This is quite an extraordinary feat for a group of kids known to every adult in the school as The Unshushables.  Over the two days of the contest the reactions of the teachers, principal and students themselves bring about some remarkable revelations for everyone.  

Bit's Thoughts
I like the story and I do agree with Mommy that I am an Unshushable.  I like that it was a story that could happen in real life.  It was exciting.  I liked Dave and Lynsey deciding to agree with each other.  I thought the part where they were doing their three word story in class was funny.  I'm even more excited about my next book.

My Thoughts
Andrew Clements has an amazing way of conveying large ideas within a few pages.  This 146 page book is about communication, the power of words, the power of silence and how we respond to the people around us.  It also shows how we effect the wider community with our words and actions.  As always in a Clements book there are two stories being told.  One is of the children and what they are experiencing and learning.  The other is of the adults and how they are reacting and ultimately learning too.  A child reading this will definitely get a sense of empowerment from what the kids in this book are able to accomplish.  Hopefully, they will also learn a little about  how adults tend to look at children, particularly noisy ones, that will explain some of the reactions they get.  For adults reading it, it is a good reminder of how young minds work and exactly how creative they can be. 

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