Young Adult Lit/Crit

February 26, 2008

Sledding Hill, NOT spoiling

Filed under: Chris Crutcher/Author Study — Joyce @ 10:23 am

Just wanted to mention how much I enjoyed SLEDDING. I know I’m probably the most notorious book spoiler in our class, and I’m working on that. So, I won’t go into great detail here.

 One main thing that struck me, though, was the opportunity to use this book along with a study on metafiction. Has anyone read any other books that might piggyback on this idea?




  1. That’s a great idea Joyce. SH has been seen by some readers/reviewers as didactic…I think it does interesting “work” for Crutcher (and for us) but I don’t think it’s a strong novel–not like WHALE or SARAH BYRNES, etc. etc. What do you all think?

    Comment by sunyprof — February 26, 2008 @ 11:09 am

  2. Also,

    In the O’Donnell-Allen book Appendix D, on page 149 there’s a Censorship Scenario that may be of some help when working with issues in this book.

    I see what the readers/reviewers mean when they suggest that it is didactic. But, if you’re about to read a book that has been banned in several local districts, your administrators and community are conservative, and you don’t have tenure… maybe didactic isn’t such a bad thing. Is there anything wrong with really spelling it all out before the bumper stickers and message tees crowd in…?

    This semester we’ve menioned several approaches to controversy. Jess once said something in class to the effect of “Would there be anything wrong with just giving students a book and seeing where they take it?” Sarah once suggested having an in depth discussion about concepts that may be difficult. We agreed that these are both viable methods of handling issues. So I guess my question is, when you’re about to read a book that censorship adores, is it helpful to do a little SLEDDING before it snowballs?

    As far as character development, though, and storyline, I am inclined to agree with you, Karen. SARAH BYRNES made a little deeper impression on me. I didn’t read WHALE TALK yet, but I’m enjoying ATHLECTIC SHORTS.


    Comment by joycehansen — February 26, 2008 @ 2:33 pm

  3. Joyce, appreciate your comment here. I agree w/you of course. But from personal experience, I can tell you that it blows up in your face–if you give students a book and “see where they take it.”

    No h.s. teacher I expect was more fearless than I but the lessons I learned about the results of that temerity were very very painful. Even as a veteran teacher, one has to be careful given an inabilty to ever predict how certain parents/community members are going to react.

    That said, of course, I would raise the white flag and try to get reluctant or outright resistant community members on board with controversial texts.

    I would not do that as a new teacher though except in particularly liberal communities.

    Wait till you read A NORTHERN LIGHT and hear Melissa Sacco’s story next week. That is one YA book I could not imagine ANYone challenging. Foolish me!! KES

    Comment by sunyprof — February 26, 2008 @ 5:34 pm

  4. I see Sledding Hill as the weakest of the Crutcher books we are discussing for class. To a certain extent, I can appreciate what Crutcher was trying to do with the meta-fiction element (being a fan of Pynchon as well as films that break the 4th wall), but it wasn’t very well developed and came across as a little self-serving. The censorship issue could have been handled much more tastefully, like it is in Sarah Byrnes. But in all honesty, I liked King of the Mild Frontier the best of all of them. It would have been a tie between Sarah Byrnes and King of the Mild Frontier for me, but I think Sarah Byrnes starts very strong and falls apart at the end (it seems like a tacked on Hollywood type ending to me). Either way, I think that Byrnes and Sledding Hill have important didactic elements that should be discussed in any classroom dedicated to enriching cultural literacy, especially since they deal with complicated topics like censorship, teen pregnancy and abortion in a way that is easy to digest.

    That is all for now. Looking forward to seeing what you all think.


    Comment by traverse02 — February 26, 2008 @ 9:27 pm

  5. Raph: I agree with you and everyone else. While I enjoyed Sledding Hill, it was my least favorite out of the text set. I loved Sarah Byrnes, with the King of the Mild Frontier a close second.

    Joyce: I am happy to know someone else read Athletic Shorts. I enjoyed it a lot and was reminded of what someone said in class last week about how you can define a good story in that you want it to continue. This is exactly how I felt while reading Athletic Shorts. In each story, an important issue was tackeled, from being overweight to AIDS to racism. The fact that these issues can be explored in a short story in such a profound way speaks to the wonderful writing talent of the author. I am excited to talk about this text with you, as I don’t know if anyone else read it!


    Comment by mandygrl101 — February 27, 2008 @ 9:34 pm

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