Monday, April 2, 2012

Moon Over Manifest

The past few books I've read have been older Newbery Medal winners. I decided to see what a current winner looks like. This month I read Moon Over Manifest by Clare Vanderpool. This book was published in 2010 and won the Newbery Medal in 2011.

Moon Over Manifest is a historical fiction mid-grade novel. It’s about a 12-year-old girl named Abileen and her connection to a town called Manifest located in Kansas. The story starts out with her arrival in Manifest. Abileen's father sends her there when he must leave to work on the railroad. All Abileen knows about Manifest is that her father lived there for a while when he was a child. Abileen searches for clues that her father made his mark on the town. She learns a great deal about a troubled boy named Jinx who helped save the town from a greedy coal mine owner in the early 1900s. Abileen discovers that the town went through a lot of pain in World War I and many of its inhabitants never completely healed from that experience. Through Abileen’s efforts to discover her father’s past, the town takes its first step toward healing. In the end, Abileen finds out that Jinx was indeed her father. Abileen and her father are reunited and hope is restored to all.

This story involves many historical time periods and events: the Depression, World War I, Prohibition, railroad construction, orphan trains, immigration, and Spanish influenza. Ms. Vanderpool uses many different literary tools to weave her story. She uses flashbacks, newspaper articles, newspaper ads, essays, poems, and multiple plot lines. The various plot lines appear to run separately until the end when the reader finds out that all of the plots were related all along throughout different decades of time.

I LOVED this book and I recommend it to 5th and 6th graders.

Jennifer S. Burrows' List of Recommended Books by Grade:
2nd grade –
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl
Miss Holly Is Too Jolly by Dan Gutman
Sarah, Plain and Tall by Patricia MacLachlan

3rd grade –
The Whipping Boy by Sid Fleischman
Among the Hidden by Margaret Peterson Haddix
Among the Impostors by Margaret Peterson Haddix
Mr. Popper's Penguins by Richard and Florence Atwater

4th grade –
Louisiana's Song by Kerry Madden
The Maze of Bones by Rick Riordan
The Golly Whopper Games by Jody Feldman

5th grade –
Benjamin Pratt & The Keeper of the School by Andrew Clements
Pictures of Hollis Woods by Patricia Reilly Giff
When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead
Moon Over Manifest by Clare Vanderpool

6th grade –
The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling
The Midwife's Apprentice by Karen Cushman
Dewey by Vicki Myron with Bret Witter
The Wanderer by Sharon Creech
The View from Saturday by E.L. Konigsburg

7th grade and up –
Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi
Pendragon Book One: The Merchant of Death by D.J. MacHale
The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd
The Seventeen Second Miracle by Jason F. Wright