Tuesday, March 2, 2004
King of the Mild Frontier: An Ill-Advised Autobiography
Crutcher, Chris. 2003. KING OF THE MILD FRONTIER: AN ILL-ADVISED AUTOBIOGRAPHY. New York: Greenwillow Books. ISBN 0060502509 [Suggested Grade Levels 8-12]
SUMMARY and ANALYSIS
Crutcher has taken the wonderfully straightforward style he uses in his gutsy novels and applied it to his own story. He makes us laugh, and he makes us think. Through his antics as a self-proclaimed “bawlbaby”, his never-ending gullibility for doing anything his older brother suggested, his eventual adult emergence as a family therapist, and finally his role as storyteller, Crutcher’s fans get a taste for where his characters and plotlines originate.
For readers unfamiliar with Crutcher’s work, this book can serve is an introduction to the wealth of his young adult literature. On its own, it merits recognition for its thought-provoking passages about death, God, anger, and healing one’s self. Crutcher also touches on the subject of censorship (particularly of his own books) and why he feels the questionable elements of his work are so important.
After reading this autobiography and discovering some of the real-life influences on some of Chris Crutcher’s characters and story lines, teens can read a novel and compare the truth with the fiction. Those who have never read one of Crutcher’s novels can choose an example that sounds intriguing, while those who are already Crutcher fans can reexamine their favorite novels.
Suggest this book to teens and their parents who are seeking counseling or family therapy. Crutcher handles tough subjects with just enough humor to lighten the mood without discrediting the merit of counseling.
Other autobiographical novels about popular authors:
Gantos, Jack. HOLE IN MY LIFE. ISBN 0374399883
Myers, Walter Dean. BAD BOY: A MEMOIR. ISBN 0060295236
Paulsen, Gary. GUTS: THE TRUE STORIES BEHIND HATCHET AND THE BRIAN BOOKS. ISBN 0385326505
Soto, Gary. A SUMMER LIFE. ISBN 0833574736
Examples of books by Chris Crutcher mentioned in this autobiography:
RUNNING LOOSE. ISBN 068802002X
STAYING FAT FOR SARAH BYRNES. ISBN 0688115527
WHALE TALK. ISBN 0688180191
By Amy D. Picard