REVIEW: Moon over Manifest (Newbery Winner) by Clare Vanderpool

I couldn’t wait to get my hands on the 2011 Newbery winner, “Moon over Manifest”. It took some finagling at the library, but I got it eventually. I had heard great things about this book, and since it was historical fiction, I was excited to read it.

“Moon over Manifest” tells the story of 12-year-old Abilene Tucker as she spends the summer in Manifest, Kansas, her father’s hometown, during the Depression. Abilene, who has no mother, seeks to connect to her father by discovering who he was as a boy. She stays with his old friend “Shady”, and quickly makes friends with two girls her age, Lettie and Ruthanne, along with the town medium, Miss Sadie. Soon after arriving, Abilene finds a box of keepsakes and letters, hidden under the floorboards in her room. At the same time, she and her new friends are warned off from looking for a spy called “the Rattler” that they’ve read about in the letters. With a little mystery, this charming historical fiction story keeps you reading as you move back and forth between 1917 and 1936 to discover the meaning of the items in the box, Abilene’s father’s past, and the town itself.

I really did love reading this book from first-time author Claire Vanderpool. There were a few things I wondered about: such as why Abilene’s father sent her to Manifest in the way he did. I also thought Ms. Vanderpool covered a LOT of territory in this novel: immigration, the Depression, the drought, WWI, the KKK, prohibition, and more! There were lots of teachable moments, but I couldn’t decide what age I thought would be best to read this novel. It is lengthy, too – over 350 pages.

I look forward to reading more from Ms. Vanderpool. Congrats to her on her outstanding debut!!

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