The Book Reviews – Website

July 23, 2008

Stick and Whittle

Stick and Whittle

Author: Sid Hite

Page Length: 202

Reading Level: 6

Genre: Historical Fiction

PLOT SUMMARY: Melvin “Stick” Fitchett is a 27 year old Civil War veteran who is considered dead by many. He has been searching for his long-lost love, Evelyn Laroue, for the past 8 years. Melvin “Whittle” Smythe is a 16 year old orphan from Chicago on a mission to do good after starting a fire in Chicago. The two find themselves meeting on the northern plains of Texas. This unlikely pair form a partnership and travel to Kansas.

While on their journey to Kansas, Stick and Whittle meet two Native Americans – “Talking Rock” and “Brings the Rain”. Upon seeing the beautiful Brings the Rain, Whittle becomes infatuated. However, the two part ways almost immediately.

Upon arriving in Wichita Kansas, Stick surprisingly discovers that Evelyn has been taking care of a young girl named Adeline DeJarnette. However, both girls have been captured by a ruthless band of outlaws and have been held hostage for ransom.

Now throughout the book, Stick is confronted with bad nightmares of his experience during the war – specifically during the Battle of Wilderness. These nightmares eventually lead Stick to an idea of how to rescue his love, Evelyn. To help the situation even more, Stick and Whittle are later re-united with Talking Rock and Brings the Rain. All four agree to the rescue plan.

After shots ring out, enemies are wounded, a fire is started, and Talking Rock falls to his death on-top of the evil gang leader – Evelyn and Adeline are successfully rescued.

REVIEW: I felt that this book did not pick up momentum until mid-way through (around Chapter 10). The beginning of the book focused more on descriptions of setting and characters while the later part of the story contained the action and external conflict. From reading the title of the book, I thought there was going to be a lot of random acts of mischief/trouble, however there was nothing random about the sequence of events and plot structure of this story.

Both Stick and Whittle were two very different characters and this was interesting, however I felt the story took too long to engage me as a reader. Students may find it difficult to “be hooked” if what they are searching for is Old Wild West action. Also, I felt the vocabulary level of this book was quite difficult. Though listed as a level 6, I would label the reading level more a 7.

AREAS FOR TEACHING: flashback, setting, historical context, compare/contrasting characters, vocabulary – flummoxed (6), acquiesced (13), lupine (51), alacrity (19), obsequiously (28), pertinacious (90), peripatetic (118)

MOVIE CONNECTIONS: “City Slickers” (1991)

RELATED WEBSITES:

http://www.emporia.edu/libsv/wawbookaward/curriculumguides/cg02-03.htm#stick

http://www.sonofthesouth.net/leefoundation/battle-wilderness.htm (Battle of Wilderness)

http://www.nationalgeographic.com/ngkids/9809/chicago/ (The Great Chicago Fire of 1871)

http://www.thechisholmtrail.com/ (The Chisholm Trail)

REVIEWED BY: Kevin Stratton

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