Monday, January 21, 2013

Dead End in Norvelt

Every winter I eagerly await the ALA Youth Media Awards. Recently it occurred to me that I'd never read Dead End in Norvelt, last year's Newbery winner. So I set aside a few days for that -- and then read it in one day.



Dead End in Norvelt by Jack Gantos (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, September 2011)

Source: advance reading copy from publisher (yes, I still have old arcs!)

Synopsis (from Indiebound): Melding the entirely true and the wildly fictional, Dead End in Norvelt is a novel about an incredible two months for a kid named Jack Gantos, whose plans for vacation excitement are shot down when he is "grounded for life" by his feuding parents, and whose nose spews blood at every little shock he gets.

But plenty of excitement (and shocks) are coming Jack's way once his mom loans him out to help a fiesty old neighbor with a most unusual chore—typewriting obituaries filled with stories about the people who founded his utopian town. As one obituary leads to another, Jack is launched on a strange adventure involving molten wax, Eleanor Roosevelt, twisted promises, a homemade airplane, Girl Scout cookies, a man on a trike, a dancing plague, voices from the past, Hells Angels . . . and possibly murder.

Why I like it: This is hilarious, weird, and wise. It's historical fiction, but also a fast-paced murder mystery. And since it takes place in 1962, when I was a child, I got a kick out of reading about bomb shelters, drive-in movies, and typewriters (anyone remember typewriters?). But it's the characters who draw you in and offer immense entertainment here, especially old Miss Volker, with her obituaries, and old Mr. Spizz with his tricycle. The most fun, of course, is watching Jack get into predicaments and wondering how he'll get out of them. Even reluctant readers would enjoy this.

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Have you read Dead End in Norvelt? And what do you hope wins this year's Newbery award?

24 comments:

  1. This really does look like an interesting book. I'm adding it to my TBR list! Thanks!! :)

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  2. I was a kid back then too. Sounds like a fun read. Thanks for sharing it.

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    1. Oh, Natalie, you couldn't possibly be as old as I am! You look so young.

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  3. I just wrote a MG that takes place in 1962! This is a great time period. Sounds like a great book! Kinda reminds me of A Year Down Yonder by Richard Peck. I just posted about characters and the great one in this book. Thanks for the review, I'll have to find this one and read it.

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    1. What a cool coincidence that you're writing about 1962. Good luck with your book.

      I've read A Year Down Yonder too and it's fun. But maybe not as laugh-out-loud funny as this one is.

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  4. I, too, loved this one! It has a little bit of fun for readers of all sorts.

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    1. I figured you would like this one, Barbara!

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  5. Okay, you've convinced me to go find this one. Laugh-out-loud funny is my favourite kind of book.

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  6. I haven't read this one, either, and it sounds like I'd love it. Thanks for the recommendation! I think the cover put me off.

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    1. That was undoubtedly why I never picked it up when it first came out. The cover is definitely a little odd, Myrna, and I had no idea what the book was about from looking at it.

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  7. This sounds adorable. I love period pieces, that let the story focus on the characters and their relationships without all of technology's intrusions.

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    1. Good point, Melanie! Thanks for stopping by.

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  8. Oh I remember this book from earlier MMGM features last year. There is so many great books out there. I wish I could read them all.

    ~Akoss

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    1. Wouldn't that be wonderful, Akoss! So many books, so little time...

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  9. I haven't read this one- but it sounds fabulous. I loved your review and description. I look forward to reading it! I love books that are funny and interesting.
    ~Jess

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    1. Thanks, Jess. Hope you do get a chance to read it.

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  10. This novel sounds like something I would enjoy. I will check it out. Thanks for the recommendation. I loved drive in movies growing up and learned to type on a type writer. :)

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    1. Ah, I learned to type on a real typewriter too. And I still have it.

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  11. Dying to read this! I saw Jack Gantos speak at a local bookstore. He was hysterical--I could hardly stop laughing at his offbeat humor.

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    1. Oh, Susan, I'm so jealous! I'd LOVE to see him in person. How wonderful that you had that opportunity.

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  12. I still haven't read it either, but it's on my to-read list. I feel like I'm a year behind right now! :) As for the Newbery, I don't think I've read enough books from last year to make an opinion.

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    1. That's okay, Jennifer. You've read books I haven't read yet!

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