2011/2012 Feature Book of the Week #1
Moon Over Manifest by Clare Vanderpool

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Welcome to the first Feature Book of the Week post for the 2011/2012 Area Wide Book Battle.

Every week I will feature one of the books on this year's list. Along with a summary about the book, many of the authors have graciously written a guest post especially for this year's book battle teams. Hopefully, their words will inspire you and entertain you just as much as their books. Feel free to add your thoughts about their books and posts in the comment section at the end of the post.


Abilene Tucker feels abandoned. Her father has put her on a train, sending her off to live with an old friend for the summer while he works a railroad job. Armed only with a few possessions and her list of universals, Abilene jumps off the train in Manifest, Kansas, aiming to learn about the boy her father once was.
Having heard stories about Manifest, Abilene is disappointed to find that it’s just a dried-up, worn-out old town. But her disappointment quickly turns to excitement when she discovers a hidden cigar box full of mementos, including some old letters that mention a spy known as the Rattler. These mysterious letters send Abilene and her new friends, Lettie and Ruthanne, on an honest-to-goodness spy hunt, even though they are warned to “Leave Well Enough Alone.”
Abilene throws all caution aside when she heads down the mysterious Path to Perdition to pay a debt to the reclusive Miss Sadie, a diviner who only tells stories from the past. It seems that Manifest’s history is full of colorful and shadowy characters—and long-held secrets. The more Abilene hears, the more determined she is to learn just what role her father played in that history. And as Manifest’s secrets are laid bare one by one, Abilene begins to weave her own story into the fabric of the town.
Powerful in its simplicity and rich in historical detail, Clare Vanderpool’s debut is a gripping story of loss and redemption. (Publisher's summary from Goodreads)


In looking over guest posts from last year, I see there are a variety of ways authors have done their posts.  Some were more biographical, others did an interview format.  I like the interview idea and figured who better to conduct the interview than my 11-year old daughter, Lucy, who will also be competing in her school’s Battle of the Books this year.  Moon Over Manifest is on her book list as well.   If your competition runs the same way, the answer always consists of the title of the book and the author's name, so we've been practicing her buzzing in and saying, "Moon Over Manifest" by Clare Vanderpool.  She hasn't been able to say it with a straight face yet.

So here is our interview.

Lucy:  One of my favorite parts of the book was when Lettie sings her sad train songs.  Did you make those up?

Clare/Mom:  Yes, I did make up the songs and rhymes in the book (all except the one about the Little Teddy Bear – I learned that from my grandmother).  I did a lot of research for the book and listened to lots of Depression-era train songs, hobo music, old-timey music.  I wanted to make up songs and rhymes that could have come from that time period.  I even have a melody in my head for how Lettie's song goes.  Do you want me to sing it for you?

Lucy:   No.  How has winning the Newbery changed your life?

Clare/Mom:  The Newbery has affected my life in a lot of wonderful ways.  I’ve had lots of opportunities to travel and speak at different places to children and adults.  Because of the Newbery, a lot more people are familiar with my book than before.  It does put a certain amount of pressure on the next book, however, so I’m working really hard on writing that next one.  But as we said in our family meeting right after the Newbery was announced, as a family, we want to keep things pretty normal.  We still shop at Target, everybody still has Saturday jobs (even though someone usually forgets to do her job of emptying the bathroom trash can… Lucy) and we just want to appreciate the opportunities that the Newbery has provided.

Lucy:  If you could jump into any book and be in the story, what book would you pick?

Clare/Mom:  Ooh, good question.  There are lots of books I’d love to jump into.  Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn.  There are lots of World War II spy novels that I would like to be in.  A Wrinkle In Time would be fun.  And probably A Long Way from Chicago.  I’d love to meet Grandma Dowdel!

Lucy:  Who is your favorite character in Moon Over Manifest?

Clare/Mom:  Hmm, I love them all, even the persnickety ones like Mrs. Larkin.  But if I had to pick favorites it would probably be Abilene and Shady.  Who is your favorite character?

Lucy:  I like Ned and Jinx because their story is interesting to read about.   Okay, last question.  What do you like about being a writer?

Clare/Mom:  I love writing because it allows me to create characters and get involved in their stories.  I kind of feel like writing is ½ making things up and ½ just going along for the ride!

Lucy:  Okay, that’s it.

Clare/Mom:  Wait, I have a question for you.  Why do you want to be in Battle of the Books?

Lucy:  Because I like reading.

Clare/Mom:  And what is your favorite book?

Lucy:  I have two… well, really six.  The five Percy Jackson books and your book.

Clare/Mom:  That’s nice, Lucy.  Thanks.


If you ask anyone who knows me, they will tell you that I have a very strong connection to place.  I live in Wichita, Kansas, about four blocks from where I grew up, in an old neighborhood called College Hill.  From my house I can walk to my parents' house, my sister's house, the school I went to and where my kids go now, the pool, the sledding hill, and two bookstores!

     I grew up reading many wonderful books in a lot of strange places.  Books like Harold and the Purple Crayon, Anne of Green Gables, and Island of the Blue Dolphins in places like dressing rooms, the bathroom, and church.  (Like you never read a book in church.)

     While I do have a college degree in English and Elementary Education, my best education has come from reading, listening to family stories, looking out the car window on road trips, pretending to be pirates with my brother, and just plain imagining.

     Besides writing I like to go to the pool with my kids, browse at the bookstore, have a neighbor over for tea, watch re-runs of Monk, have a lot of kids playing at our house, and go out for dinner with my husband.  Life is good. (Retrieved from author website)

I want to thank Clare Vanderpool for agreeing to provide a guest post and congratulate her on winning the 2011 Newbery Medal.

5 Delicious Comments:

Anonymous said...

I can't wait to read this book!
it sounds interesting....

north middle

laduemiddle said...

I love the format of the book. The way it uses newspaper columns and letters to convey what happens in the past gives a tinge of a scrapbook format.

And I hadn't read a lot of books that takes place in the Depression. There should be more books on that period.

-A Ladue Middle Student

Anonymous said...

moon over manifest is a good book I like how they have a format where it about jinx and then back to the present and then it switches because she finds out who jinx is

Anonymous said...

from Maplewood richmond heights elementary

Anonymous said...

North Middle!
I really loved this book! I would be reading about Jinx and so focused on him, they'd mention Abilene and I'd be like "Who's that?"

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