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Moon Over Manifest Paperback – December 27, 2011

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Gr 5-8–History and fiction marry beautifully in this lively debut novel. It's as if readers jump off the train in Manifest, KS, in 1936 with Abilene Tucker, 12, the feisty, likable, and perceptive narrator. She is there to live with Pastor Shady Howard, her father's friend, while her father works on the railroad back in Iowa. An equally important story set during World War I is artfully intertwined. Since her mother went off on her own 10 years earlier, Abilene and Gideon have been alone. Though their life together is unsettled, their bond is strong. Shady's place is shabby, but he is welcoming. The mystery about Manifest and Gideon unfolds after Abilene finds a box filled with intriguing keepsakes. It includes a letter dated 1917 to someone named Jinx from Ned Gillen that has a warning, “THE RATTLER is watching.” This starts Abilene, with the help of new friends Ruthanne and Lettie, on a search to learn the identity of the pair. The story cleverly shifts back and forth between the two eras. Abilene becomes connected to Miss Sadie, a “diviner” who slowly leads her through the story of Ned and Jinx. Though the girl is lonely, she adjusts to her new life, feeling sure that her father will come for her at summer's end. The Ku Klux Klan and its campaign against the many immigrants working in the coal mines and the deplorable conditions and exploitation of these men provide important background. This thoroughly enjoyable, unique page-turner is a definite winner.–Renee Steinberg, formerly at Fieldstone Middle School, Montvale, NJα(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Booklist

*Starred Review* After a life of riding the rails with her father, 12-year-old Abilene can’t understand why he has sent her away to stay with Pastor Shady Howard in Manifest, Missouri, a town he left years earlier; but over the summer she pieces together his story. In 1936, Manifest is a town worn down by sadness, drought, and the Depression, but it is more welcoming to newcomers than it was in 1918, when it was a conglomeration of coal-mining immigrants who were kept apart by habit, company practice, and prejudice. Abilene quickly finds friends and uncovers a local mystery. Their summerlong “spy hunt” reveals deep-seated secrets and helps restore residents’ faith in the bright future once promised on the town’s sign. Abilene’s first-person narrative is intertwined with newspaper columns from 1917 to 1918 and stories told by a diviner, Miss Sadie, while letters home from a soldier fighting in WWI add yet another narrative layer. Vanderpool weaves humor and sorrow into a complex tale involving murders, orphans, bootlegging, and a mother in hiding. With believable dialogue, vocabulary and imagery appropriate to time and place, and well-developed characters, this rich and rewarding first novel is “like sucking on a butterscotch. Smooth and sweet.” Grades 5-8. --Kathleen Isaacs --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 8 - 12 years
  • Grade Level: 3 - 7
  • Lexile Measure: 800L (What's this?)
  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Yearling; Reprint edition (December 27, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375858296
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375858291
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.9 x 7.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (294 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #10,677 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

138 of 143 people found the following review helpful By C.Vick on January 11, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Moon Over Manifest begins with rough-and-tumble, Depression-era stock heroine, Abilene Tucker, arriving in her father's hometown of Manifest, Kansas. She's used to hopping trains, poor living conditions, a rough life and being a little rough around the edges. You know the type. Her father has taken a railroad job in Iowa, and claiming that the situation isn't proper for a young lady, has sent her to spend the summer with his old friend, bootlegger-turned-pastor, Shady Howard. Or, at least, her father says it is only for the summer...

Looking for clues to her father's past, Abilene instead stumbles instead on a little tin filled with some keepsakes and letters, piquing her interest in a couple of young men named Ned and Jinx, and a spy called "the Rattler."

And this is where the story comes alive...

Through the recollections of an old Gypsy fortune teller, Abilene learns about the lives of Jinx, Ned, and about the once-lively town of Manifest, Kansas. Vanderpool manages to effortlessly weave in the stories of Manifest in 1918, on the brink of the Great War, with the Depression-era Manifest of 1939. Sometimes, stories with multiple narratives can be frustrating -- just as you start to get into one story, the author switches to the other -- but Vanderpool balances both very well, never sinking to obvious cliff-hangers nor spending too much time in one "place."

However, both places have their elements of excitement and mystery that keep you wanting to read about both. Best of all, both are full of some really great and memorable characters.
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37 of 38 people found the following review helpful By Richard R. Sefi on February 13, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Written by a master. This book is as suitable for adults as for the listed age group. It is hauntingly enjoyable and unforgetable. It is one of those rarities that should enter the consciousness of all its readers, to be carried along with all the other stored memories of books we think of as important to us.
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54 of 59 people found the following review helpful By Teresa Jeanne on February 11, 2011
Format: Hardcover
I passed by purchasing this book once, as it was billed for tweens. But on an impulse I bought it. I wasn't sure how I was going to like it when the narrative switched from 1936 to 1918 and of course, the reader understood the connections between the eras before the protagonist did, but she did get it before the end. I liked that the connection was not the *surprise* ending. There are in fact three surprise endings, none of which the reader is fully prepared for. I did not find the character of Abiline to be underdeveloped. She is a tough nut to crack. She is not going to bare her soul to the reader anymore than she does to to the people of Manifest unless she gets the lay of the land. Unlike todays over emotive teenagers, she keeps her own counsel and dignity intact.

Although I was born sixteen years after the story begins, I can attest that the description of small towns in Kansas during the depression is completely accurate. The remmants of the mining in Southeast Kansas are there today. An added bonus to this book, was the author's postscript pointing out what was historically accurate and what was fiction.

If the author continues to write for this age group, more power to her. But I think she also has the talent to turn out a novel that will appeal to adults. Let us hope she keeps writing!
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Cilla on January 27, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
As Abilene Tucker jumps from a train heading toward Manifest, Kansas in 1936 I felt as if I was heading back in time with her as the book intertwines between 1936 and 1917-1918. The book is based on historical fiction and reveals stories that take place during World War I and the Depression. Abilene is a 12 year old girl who has been sent to Manifest for the summer to live with a Pastor Shady, who is an old friend of her father. Abilene finds a cigar box of letters and mementos under a board in her new room. This discovery leads to more questions about the town, the people who live there now and those who pasted through years earlier, and the big question which is "How does my father fit into this town". As the hot, dry summer days drag on Abilene and two new friends start on a quest to unravel the mysteries of the past as they read the letters found in a cigar box between Ned and Jinx. Their "spy hunt" for the "RATTLER" eventually leads Abilene to Mrs. Sadie's house the "diviner" who begins to recall the past. While Abilene works her debt off the Mrs. Sadie she listens intently to the stories as she realizes that her tales are related to the cigar box full of letters and mementos. What Abilene uncovers helps to bring the town's bright future back as well as the answers to her questions that she spent her entire summer searching for. Abilene's first person narrative is intertwined with Mrs. Sadie's stories, the letters from Ted to Jinx, and a newspaper column. I would highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys reading historical fiction from fifth grade on because it recounts actual historical events through a fictional aspect. Everything about this book is realistic from the plot to the characters. A very intriguing book, which I would read again and again. This is why I give Moon Over Manifest five stars.
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