Bibliographic information: Crutcher, C. (2001). Whale Talk. New York: Greenwillow Books.
Annotation: This book is about a boy named T.J. who is asked to help start a swim team at the high school, Cutter High. He recruits people by seeing them swimming really well and asking them, and also putting flyers under people’s windshield wipers. He also gets a man named Oliver a job helping out with the swim team so that he is able to earn some money for a place to stay and also to pay his son’s college tuition. The team becomes open with one another, and feels like they can share things that they never have before. T.J. also takes on the responsibility of having a family move in with him since the dad is abusive. He purposely loses the last swim meet to show the competitive people at his school that winning isn’t the most important thing. The team all participates in an event together after this, and T.J.’s dad is shot by Rich which is the little girl’s stepdad. Through this incident T.J. gets to know his step-brother, and Rich ends up going to jail.
Genre: Sports Fiction
Grade Level: 4-5
Readers who will like this book: People who like sports, people who like swimming, people learning that winning isn’t everything, and people who like major conflict in the story.
Personal Response and Rating: I give this book a 5/5. I enjoyed this book, and I thought it had a good lesson behind it, that winning isn’t always the most important thing.
Text Dependent Question: Why did T.J. intentionally lose the swim meet?
Strategy #37 Reading Logs: After reading a book, or after each chapter in a book students respond in their reading log. They can write their thoughts and feelings about the story, or their questions and concerns with the story.
Rationale: I think it would be a good idea to get students thinking after reading every chapter in this book. There is a lot going on in the book, and many emotions with the abuse and other events going on, so it would be a good activity for students to express their thoughts about the book.