Booktalk: Noggin by John Corey Whaley


Full disclosure: except for the fact that I belong to a YA book discussion group composed of like-minded librarians, we’d settled on “boy books” as our monthly theme, and Noggin by John Corey Whaley won the vote for which book we would read, I might never have read this book.  Having said that, I really REALLY enjoyed it.

As I was putting this booktalk together over the last few days, I was feeling a little stuck.  I started thinking, “How am I going to get kids to take me seriously about this book, when as soon as I tell them it’s about a boy who gets his head cut off and cryogenically frozen they’re going to get so distracted that I’ll lose their attention?”  Okay, to be fair, I don’t actually KNOW that’s what would happen since I haven’t shared this book with any classes yet.  But based on years of prior experience (read: horror stories) one part of my mind always anticipates possible distractions.  So that’s why I tacked on the opening sentences to the booktalk, to try to get my audience warmed up to the idea that they were going to hear a story that was a little … “out there.”


Let me start by saying that this story is a little weird, a little unusual, and even a little ridiculous.  So don’t say I didn’t warn you …

Travis Coates was a 16-year-old boy who had no hope of surviving the cancer that was attacking his body.  So he agreed to have his head cut off and frozen, with the hope that one day it could be attached to a new body.  His parents?  His best friend?  His girlfriend?  None of them really BELIEVED that he would ever come back.  Maybe they hoped it, but they didn’t believe it.

This is the story of what happens five years later, when Travis comes back from the dead.  To Travis, it was like no time had passed at all.  He was sixteen years old when he closed his eyes and went to sleep, and he was sixteen years old when he woke up.  It felt like just yesterday.  But five years passed while Travis was sleeping, and he’s going to learn just how much things have changed since he’s been away.

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