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No Talking    by Andrew Clements order for
No Talking
by Andrew Clements
Order:  USA  Can
Simon & Schuster, 2007 (2007)
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

In No Talking, Andrew Clements (author of Frindle) offers pre-teen readers another catchy, feel-good tale of elementary school life, the burgeoning battle of the sexes, and the sort of out-of-the-box creative thinking with which kids often surprise - and delight - adults.

This year's grade five class has gone through Laketon Elementary, labeled by the teaching staff as the Unshushables. They go suddenly from one extreme to the other, to the initial consternation of their teachers. How does it all start? Loudmouth Dave Packer reads about Mahatma Gandhi for a social studies project on India, and the fact that the great pacifist leader - who 'fought with words and ideas' - chose not to speak for one day a week sows seeds in Dave's fertile imagination.

Dave tries not talking for half a day, focusing his energy on listening. When he hears Lynsey Burgess running on at the mouth in the cafetaria, he exclaims, 'If you had to shut up for five minutes, I bet the whole top of your head would explode!' Naturally things escalate from there and soon all the grade five boys are in competition with all the grade five girls for two days of silence (the rules allowing three word answers to teachers only, with extra words being tallied for each sex).

Andrew Clements has great fun with this theme, showing where it leads. It generates a great deal of innovation in both kids and adults, teaching all of them a lot along the way about teamwork, alternate communication techniques, and about how much more thought and listening can go on when there's No Talking. Don't miss this one - it's thought-provoking fun.

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