Moon Over Manifest
I admit that while I still had not read the Newbery Medal winner by ALA Annual, I very much enjoyed Clare Vanderpool’s acceptance speech, finding her warm, personable, and funny. When I surveyed people at the conference about whether they liked the book, many people had not managed to finish it, but most who did found many distinguished qualities–and heartily supported the choice.
I finally picked it up a couple of weeks ago, remembering my promise last spring: to read and comment on the book come fall. So . . . I loved it! I still have lingering concerns about the pacing (the same as I had for KEEPER–which I also liked very much) and I think the clever dual narrative requires willing suspension of disbelief in order for the story to truly work. But I definitely think this is one of the strongest novels. You can probably build an equally convincing case for ONE CRAZY SUMMER, but that’s a character-driven book. This, too, is character-driven–with Abilene, Jinx, and the entire town of Manifest drawn in fine detail–but it’s also a very plot-driven book, and I am a plot-driven reader so it’s no surprise that I would warm up to this as I got past those early chapters into the meat of the story. Now MOON OVER MANIFEST didn’t displace my top three–A CONSPIRACY OF KINGS, DARK EMPEROR, and SUGAR CHANGED THE WORLD–but I could probably put it in my top five, and definitely in my top seven.
ONE CRAZY SUMMER had already bagged a National Book Award nomination and the Scott O’Dell Award before it won the Coretta Scott King Award and Newbery Honor at the ALA Youth Media Awards announcement, but fellow Newbery Honor book DARK EMPEROR also picked up some more prizes. It was the lone honor book for the Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Award and one of two honor books in the picture book category of the Boston Globe-Horn Book Awards.
A CONSPIRACY OF KINGS and SUGAR CHANGED THE WORLD were both finalists for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize with the former book prevailing as the winner. THE NOTORIOUS BENEDICT ARNOLD, another personal favorite, won the Boston Globe-Horn Book Award for Nonfiction. Both SUGAR CHANGED THE WORLD and THE NOTORIOUS BENEDICT ARNOLD are still eligible for the 2012 YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction. We’ll see if they make the shortlist later this fall.
On a personal note, I’m happy to report that I am back in a school library position after a two year hiatus. Due to budget cuts these past couple of years, I taught 7th grade World History last year and a special day class for deaf and hard of hearing students in fourth, fifth, and sixth grades the year before that. I’m now covering our alternative high school plus five additional elementary sites in the first semester and two junior highs in the second semester. At least, that’s the plan for now. It’s kind of crazy!
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About Jonathan Hunt
Jonathan Hunt is the Coordinator of Library Media Services at the San Diego County Office of Education. He served on the 2006 Newbery committee, and has also judged the Caldecott Medal, the Printz Award, the Boston Globe-Horn Book Awards, and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org
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