Thursday, October 27, 2011

Moon over Manifest

Title: Moon over Manifest
Category: Historical
Grades: 4-7
Author: Clare Vanderpool
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Date: 2010
Pages: 342

Shipped to the town of Manifest for the summer, Abilene is afraid her father has abandoned her.  While she waits for summer’s end, she explores the town, making friends and hoping to discover more about her father’s past.  When she loses her father’s precious compass to the strange old lady next door, Abilene goes to work for her to earn it back.  But Miss Sadie is also a storyteller, and the hours fill with the tales of the town in years past, young Ned Gillen with his bright future who goes to war, and a drifter lad named Jinx, fleeing from the law who creates a scheme to save the town from the corruption of the mining companies and the poverty of the Great Depression.

Finally, a Newbery winner worthy of the title.  Moon over Manifest is a beautifully complex and lush story, weaving layer upon layer together to create a vibrant tale of mystery, humor, relationships, and family in the Great Depression.  The multi-genre approach Vanderpool uses does not detract from the story, nor does the use of a storyteller to create the story-within-story weaving through the novel.  While the book’s plot may be too complex for younger readers, no upper age limit truly exists, as adults will find this book enthralling as well.  Each page is a new discovery, a new story, another layer, another piece of the puzzle.  Readers will appreciate Jinx’s cleverness and if one or two plot points are slightly predictable, the path to them are still unexpected.  Wholly satisfying and beautifully researched, Moon over Manifest is a must-read.


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