Moon Over Manifest by Clare Vanderpool (20101

I shoved the compass into a side pocket of the satchel, then made my way to the back of the last car. Being a paying customer this time, with full-fledged ticket, I didn’t have to jump off, and I knew that the preacher would be waiting for me. But as anyone worth his salt knows, it’s best to get a look at a place before it gets a look at you. I’d worn my overalls just for the occasion (p 3).

MoonOverManifestI’m feeling a whole lot better about Keeper and Dreamer being passed over by the Newbery committee. I was surprised and aghast when my two front-runners weren’t given a nod, but after finishing Moon Over Manifest, my anger is quelled.

What a beautiful, quiet book! It is 1936 and Abilene Tucker is sent by her father to live in Manifest, Kansas for no good reason she can think of. After years of living a nomadic life, scrapping through during the Great Depression, Gideon Tucker decides it is not the life for a young lady.

Feeling abandoned, Abilene goes in search of answers; a reason why her father sent her to this quiet town where he spent only a short time in his youth. What she finds is a cigar box with trinkets belonging to a boy named Jinx and letters dating from 1918 and written by a soldier named Ned. She also crosses paths with a Diviner, Miss Sadie, who sheds light on the meaning behind those trinkets and letters. Through them, Abilene connects with the town of Manifest in a way she could have never predicted.

This story tackles heavy topics like intolerance, prohibition, poverty, and war with a muted elegance. Little discoveries keep the plot moving. Cliffhangers abound! Abilene’s desire for her father is palpable. The denouement will evoke tears of sorrow and joy.

What did the committee have to say about it?

“Vanderpool illustrates the importance of stories as a way for children to understand the past, inform the present, and provide hope for the future,” says Cynthia K. Richey, committee chair for the Newbery (SLJ).


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