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Dead End in Norvelt
Cover of Dead End in Norvelt
Dead End in Norvelt
Norvelt Series, Book 1
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...
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...
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  • 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 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. 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.

 

Awards-

About the Author-

  • 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 when he was seven, his family moved to Barbados. He attended British schools, where there was much emphasis on reading and writing, and teachers made learning a lot of fun. When the family moved to south Florida, he found his new classmates uninterested in their studies, and his teachers spent most of their time disciplining students. Jack retreated to an abandoned bookmobile (three flat tires and empty of books) parked out behind the sandy ball field, and read for most of the day. The seeds for Jack's writing career were planted in sixth grade, when he read his sister's diary and decided he could write better than she could. He begged his mother for a diary and began to collect anecdotes he overheard at school, mostly from standing outside the teachers' lounge and listening to their lunchtime conversations. Later, he incorporated many of these anecdotes into stories. While in college, he and an illustrator friend, Nicole Rubel, began working on picture books. After a series of well-deserved rejections, they published their first book, Rotten Ralph, in 1976. It was a success and the beginning of Jack's career as a professional writer. Jack continued to write children's books and began to teach courses in children's book writing and children's literature. He developed the master's degree program in children's book writing at Emerson College and the Vermont College M.F.A. program for children's book writers. He now devotes his time to writing books and educational speaking. He lives with his family in Boston, Massachusetts.

Reviews-

  • Publisher's Weekly

    Starred review from July 25, 2011
    A bit of autobiography works its way into all of Gantos's work, but he one-ups himself in this wildly entertaining meld of truth and fiction by naming the main character... Jackie Gantos. Like the author, Jackie lives for a time in Norvelt, a real Pennsylvania town created during the Great Depression and based on the socialist idea of community farming. Presumably (hopefully?) the truth mostly ends there, because Jackie's summer of 1962 begins badly: plagued by frequent and explosive nosebleeds, Jackie is assigned to take dictation for the arthritic obituary writer, Miss Volker, and kept alarmingly busy by elderly residents dying in rapid succession. Then the Hells Angels roll in. Gore is a Gantos hallmark but the squeamish are forewarned that Jackie spends much of the book with blood pouring down his face and has a run-in with home cauterization. Gradually, Jackie learns to face death and his fears straight on while absorbing Miss Volker's theories about the importance of knowing history. "The reason you remind yourself of the stupid stuff you've done in the past is so you don't do it again." Memorable in every way. Ages 10–14.

  • AudioFile Magazine Looking for a great audiobook for boys? This is it. Further blurring the line between fact and fiction in this autobiographical novel, author Jack Gantos narrates himself, sharing the 1962 summer adventures of his eponymous hero as he navigates adolescence and a dying town caught between two eras. (His mom and his neighbor want to honor the vision of town founder Eleanor Roosevelt; his dad warns of "Commies.") History is a theme throughout, and so is death: Jack accompanies elderly Miss Volker on her duties as medical examiner and types up the obituaries she dictates. The story is a little odd and a lot funny. Gantos's delivery is dry and wry, and even when characters don't get distinctive voices, the action and emotion are utterly clear. A gem. J.M.D. (c) AudioFile 2011, Portland, Maine
  • School Library Journal

    November 1, 2011

    Gr 5-8-It is the summer of 1962 and Jack Gantos is 12 years old in this "entirely true and wildly fictional" story (Farrar, Straus, 2011). Jack lives with his parents in Norvelt, Pennsylvania, a town planned during the Great Depression by Eleanor Roosevelt. His summer quickly turns sour when his mother grounds him for the entire two months for something his father made him do. Jack's mother loans him out to ancient Mrs. Volker to assist her in writing the town's obituaries, a job that keeps the boy hopping since the original residents are quickly dying off. As Mrs. Volker and Jack spend the summer together, they develop an unusual friendship. She teaches Jack about language and history by dictating luminous obits and fascinating "This Day in History" facts. Jack relishes driving the woman around town to investigate the sudden rash of elderly deaths. Gantos narrates his laugh-out-loud semi-autobiographical tale, providing a pitch-perfect rendition of Jack's sarcasm, exaggeration, and whining. Included on the CD, but not available for review, is a video interview with Gantos where he explains "one of the prime motivations for the book is this notion that history, our history, is so vastly important." The author's trademark quirky characters are in abundance here and while the plot rises to only a gentle crest, middle school listeners will thoroughly enjoy the ride.-Tricia Melgaard, formerly Broken Arrow Public Schools, Tulsa, OK

    Copyright 2011 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

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    Macmillan Audio
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