Post by Mark T. Locker.
So, here’s the thing about Newbery Medal-winning books. Most of the time they are pretty good, but they also tend to follow a theme of kid on his/her own, seeking lost something, hardship, struggle, overcoming. Some of those books are groan-inducing, as least to a seasoned cynic such as myself; others are actually fantastic works of literature. If I had read Moon Over Manifest before it was awarded the 2011 Newbery Medal, I would certainly have pegged it as a contender. However, the story and the narrative voice are so wonderful that I don’t mind how “Newbery-y” it is. Anyways, here it is:
Abilene Tucker has roamed the country with her dad doing odd jobs her whole life. But suddenly, in the summer of 1936, the thirteen-year-old is sent by her father to his old home town of Manifest, Kansas to live with his old bootlegger friend Shady Howard. What unfolds in the aftermath is Abilene’s journey (yup, another personal journey!) to try to understand who her father is by learning about the town he came from. Through a box of old letters discovered in Shady’s house, and the stories told to her by the Hungarian diviner, Abilene learns about the history of the town, and yes, about herself and her father as well.
It’s a great story about a hot summer in the 1930’s at an age when you teeter on the line between carefree youth and the weight of understanding and learning about the world in which you live. Good stuff.