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Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Mystery, Murder, and Espionage

Moon Over Manifest by Clare Vanderpool

It's 1936, and the effects of the Great Depression are still being experienced by most. Twelve-year-old Abilene Tucker is sent to Manifest, Kansas, by her father. They've spent their life riding the rails and doing various jobs throughout the United States. Abilene is mystified as to why her father has decided to send her away now. However, the town of Manifest has more meaning to her father. It's where he lived when he was younger. Abilene decides to make the best of it as she settles in with Pastor Shady. Shady is an apropos name for him because he is also the local whisky maker in a time when Prohibition was still in effect.

In trying to find pieces of her father in this town, she discovers a box with letters and mementos underneath her floor that are from 1918. This will lead her on a journey through the memories of the locals. Some want to forget, and others have something to hide. While doing odd jobs for Miss Sadie, a Hungarian woman who is known as the local diviner (gypsy), she is told the story of Manifest in 1918, and in turn Abilene learns her own story.

This year's Newbery Award Winning novel is a fantastic debut from Clare Vanderpool. As I read Abilene's story, I felt like I was right there with her. I could taste the dust and feel the heat of the Kansas sun. Abilene is a likeable character who is feisty and opinionated. Vanderpool wonderfully weaves a narrative that brings together two different stories that connect seamlessly about spies, murder, love, and bootlegging. This has become my favorite Newbery Winner, just knocked From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler down a notch.


2011 Newbery Award Winner
Ages 9-12
Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers (October 2010)
ISBN: 9780385738835
Available as an eBook.

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