Monday, April 9, 2012

Dead End In Norvelt by Jack Gantos

Hello dear reader friends,
The Queen here with a fabulous Newbery Medal winning book by Jack Gantos, Deadend in Norvelt. Steeped in history, this humorous fictional based on experience book is about a young boy named Jack who is grounded for the whole summer, then lent out to an elderly, quirky neighbor to write obituaries.

I laughed out loud while reading this book. It's a must have for any library.

Happy Reading,
The Queen

Book Title: Dead End in Norvelt
Author: Jack Gantos                                                                                                           

Book Information:
Publisher and date: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR); First Edition edition (September 13, 2011)
Reading level: Ages 10 and up
Book Info: Hardcover: 352 pages
Genre: Fiction chapter book
ISBN: 978-0374379933

Book Theme:
Small town life, history, the elderly, coming of age, death

Favorite lines:
(Mrs. Dubicki) "Yeah, two weeks will give me time to wrap up my business, say all the goodbyes I care to say, and then I'll be ready to meet my husband in heaven. Will that fit your calendar, Mr. Reaper?"

"Umm, I'll check my schedule," I quickly replied, "but I think I can fit you in."

"Would you like a cup of tea?" she asked.
page 109

Book Summary
Dead End in Norvelt is the winner of the 2012 Newbery Medal for the year's best contribution to children's literature and the Scott O'Dell Award for Historical Fiction!

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 bad 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 launced 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. Endlessly surprising, this sly, sharp-edged narrative is the author at his very best, making readers laugh out loud at the most unexpected things in a dead-funny depiction of growing up in a slightly off-kilter place where the past is present, the present is confusing, and the future is completely up in the air.

Activity Adventures:

Writing Prompts:
There's a lot of history discussed in this book. What is true, and what is not true? Check out a few facts to see for yourself.

If you had to write your own obituary, what would you want it to say?
Check out what was going on in history on the day you were born. There are many sites you can find that will list world events on a given day.

Discussion Questions:
Jack is caught between his feuding parents, both telling him to do different things. Discuss what you think about how Jack handled his being grounded. Did you think it was fair? Has there been times your own parents are making different demands from you and you are unsure who to listen to?


Authors Arena

Author: Jack Gantos

Jack Gantos has written books for people of all ages, from picture books and middle-grade fiction to novels for young adults and adults. His works include Hole in My Life, a memoir that won the Michael L. Printz and Robert F. Sibert honors; Joey Pigza Swallowed the Key, a National Book Award Finalist, and Joey Pigza Loses Control, a Newbery Honor book.
Jack was born in Mount Pleasant, Pennsylvania, and grew up in the nearby town of Norvelt. He remembers playing a lot of “pass the chalk” in Mrs. Neiderheizer’s class in first grade. He was in the Bluebird reading group, which he later found out was for the slow readers. To this day he’d rather be called a Bluebird than a slow reader.
Read more at his website.


Patricia T. said...

Glad to see you review Jack Gantos' new book. I absolutely love his writing style and have learned a lot about writing through video interviews. He's brilliant -- but it took him a while to get where he is. This one looks like another winner. I reviewed his series Joey Pigza, about a kid with ADHD. Couldn't put the series down. Great review Jackie. Also enjoyed the video.

Jackie Castle said...

This is the first of his books I've come across, but I'll be on the look out for others. I found his writing fresh and so much fun. I'll check out some of his videos now that you've mentioned them. Thanks so much for stopping by.