Young Adult Lit/Crit

February 27, 2008

The best ill-advised autobiography to date…

Filed under: Chris Crutcher/Author Study — kariredmond @ 8:18 pm

I just wanted to start out with some points for tomorrow night’s discussion on King of the Mild Frontier:

First of all I read this book first, and I am so glad that I did. I feel that this book gave me a great foundation on which to read the other assigned readings.  Not only did we find out where some of the characters from his stories came from specifically, but we are shown issues of particular interest that later make it into YA lit.

Part of this book that I found of particular interest was one that we discussed last week in our Elijah lit circle: trust/ respect for our elders.  CC questioned (with good reason) much of what he was told or taught by adults throughout his life and was often punished for it.  How do we use his ideas of credibility with students in our own lives/classrooms?

He tells us about his censorship issues through a story (told provactively in typical CC fashion) of a young African American child who was a victim of abuse and persecution within her own home.  Honestly, after reading this I felt a lot more open to the language and situations in the other novels.  How do you guys feel (especially those of you teaching currently) about the issues presented in this novel? Do you feel that your student’s are ready to read about the penis in the popcorn bag, even if they are hearing about it from other students already? I know we are going to delve into censorship even more next week but I thought that this novel was a perfect place to start.

Also, besides the ones that were pointed out… do you see issues/characters from the other novels that stemmed from CC’s experiences in KING? I like the idea of using this novel as a reference for the others, especially with the idea that we are in the midst of an “author study”. 

I cannot wait to discuss these novels with you in class tomorrow! I seem to be a “fan” of everything, but I am especially excited about this week’s text set!




  1. Kari,
    I actually read the autobiography after reading WHALE TALK and at the same time as SARAH BYRNES. I’m so glad it worked out that way. I knew enough about Crutcher’s characters that as I read about the real Crutcher, I was able to have one of those wonderful “ah! so this is where his characters are coming from” moments. Its funny to see his antics as a child and liken them to the antics of his characters. All said antics are generally mischievous and annoying for certain adults and peers, but generally funny and harmless.
    I also understood where his insight into human nature and interactions came from. I think a background in psychology could be very helpful for any writer. Crutcher proves this. As I read WHALE TALK and SARAH BYRNES, I wondered where Crutcher came up with some of the more psycho characters. Now it makes sense.
    One of my favorite aspects of his books, though, is the heros. Although heros are clearly pointed out in SARAH BYRNES, they show up in WHALE TALK as well. It was very satisfying to read about these everyday heros in a way that’s not sappy. Crutcher tells it straight, but is not too in-your-face. It’s just right.


    Comment by allison — February 28, 2008 @ 7:25 am

  2. I think it’s really interesting to look at the order in which we read the books and our reactions to the books. I read Sledding Hill first, and I really enjoyed it (whereas it seems that most liked this one the least. The whole inserting himself into his book didn’t bother me. What really resonated with me was the story of loss, grief, friendship and Crutcher’s explanation of what happens when we die. To me, the story was primarily about Eddie dealing with loss and becoming more independent. I thought the descriptions of the way Eddie’s brain “bounced around” was great, and I can think of several students who would be pleasantly surprised to find a character in a book whose brain works just like theirs.

    What order did everyone else read these books? Did most people like the first book they read better than the last? What order would you suggest for students?


    Comment by sostrom — February 28, 2008 @ 10:17 pm

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