Whistle in the Dark
Set in the mining town of Leadanna, Missouri in the 1920s, Whistle in the Dark follows the coming of age of Clemson, who, for his thirteenth birthday, has two wishes: for a dog and not to have to follow his Pap and Gramps down into the mine. A stray dog named Pal soon appears to brighten Clem’s life, but his birthday gift is a miner’s helmet and the end of his school days. Clem fights debilitating fear and loathing for his work as he searches for another way to help support his family, including a beloved sister who suffers from epilepsy. For a time he thinks engaging in the moonshining business with his friend Lindy might be the answer, but a disaster at the mine makes Clem the family’s only breadwinner. A larger disaster for the whole town awaits as the deadliest tornado in U. S. history strikes Leadanna while Clem is deep underground. In the ruins lies a path for Clem to follow toward a new life.
This is a wonderful debut novel of a boy asked to take on adult responsibilities too soon. Clem’s good nature is portrayed beautifully through his affection for a family that limits his choices. Scruffy wonder dog Pal is a great addition and as real as any of the well-wrought citizens of the Ozark hamlet. For ages 8-12.