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Moon Over Manifest Paperback – December 27, 2011
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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 an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
*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 an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top customer reviews
Once my daughter was done with the book, my husband and I devoured it. We couldn't put it down! It was a great chance to talk to our daughter about what we would call "Americana" of earlier time periods, as older cultural contributions relate to the story line: Burl Ives and his song "The Big Rock Candy Mountain", and Tennessee Ernie Ford's "16 tons." HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!!!
All her life, it's been just her and her father Gideon, mostly riding the rails from place to place as the Depression progressed. Now it's 1936 and Abilene finds herself in Manifest, Kansas, a town where her father spent time as a boy.
But Gideon's not there with her. And even worse, Abilene doesn't see much that resembles the vibrant town of Gideon's stories, just a worn-out, dusty community struggling along with the rest of the country.
Yet thanks to some old letters she finds under the floorboards of her temporary bedroom, Abilene embarks on a mystery dating back to 1918. And while she's at it, maybe she'll find out a few things about the father who's never spoken much about his past...
Not only is Abilene a compelling character in her own right, but Vanderpool has done an excellent job fleshing out the details of both World War I- and Depression-era America.
The writing is solid, the characters believable, and the story is engaging. Vanderpool develops her characters through dialogue and action and less through direct description. The book is aimed at young adults, but the content matter and writing easily engages adults. All in all, an excellent read!