Posted in Award Winners, MG Novels, So Many Good Books

Moon Over Manifest

What a sweet winner!
PDF Creation in Quark 7This past week I got to meet Kansan Newbery winner Clare Vanderpool, who wrote the lovely book, Moon Over Manifest (Delacorte Books for Young Readers, 2010). She shared with us how shocked she was when she got the call from the Newbery committee. Seeing her tears, her husband thought something was wrong! She said there’s definitely a “before” and “after” when you win the Newbery. You can read more about what she thinks about the 2011 Newberry Award on her site. Click on the Upcoming Events tab to see where she’s speaking.
Moon Over Manifest is a layered book with two time periods and two separate stories going on. It’s a great story. The characters and place are so real.
It’s 1936 and 12-year-old Abilene has been sent to live with her father’s friend in Manifest, Kansas. No one there talks about her father, though she knows the town’s people must have known him. But she’s found something else to keep her occupied–a box with letters from 1918 and “treasures” under the floorboards in her bedroom. From info in those letters she and her friends decide to see if they can discover who the WWI spy is.
Not only did I have sympathy for Abilene separated from her father, but for Ned and Jinx and what they went through as revealed by the letters and the local diviner, Miss Sadie.
This is definitely a must read with a satisfying ending!

Posted in So Many Good Books, YA Novels

Crossing the Tracks

How could you not care?

crossing the tracksI just read Crossing the Tracks (Margaret K. McElderry Books, 2010) by Barb Stuber. The story starts in November 1916 with the line: “I’m under Mama’s coffin.” On the next page little Iris says about her mother, “I tried to stop breathing like her, but I couldn’t.
Chapter 1 fast forwards to April 1926. Iris is 15. “I pull my hand form our mailbox, the letter bent in my fingers, my mind reeling. An official letter for Daddy from a doctor. A bud of panic starts to grow in me.
Barb has written a sympathetic character who has to deal with the injustices in her life. Will anyone help her through these tough times? You’ll have to read it to find out.
A bonus on Barb’s website is that she shares pictures that inspired different aspects of her book. She also works as a docent at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City, which she says, “simply crawling with ‘writery’ inspiration.”
Crossing the Tracks is set in Kansas.

Posted in MG Novels, So Many Good Books

Books set in Kansas – Airball, My Life in Briefs & out of patience

I just happened to read two books set in Kansas this last week.  Both were very entertaining.  Both at one level were sports stories.  But both also had much more going for them, such as humor . . .

AirballjacketThe first, Airball, My Life in Briefs (Roaring Brook Press, 2005) gives us the voice of Kirby Nickel loud and clear.  Kirby’s town loves basketball so much they are the self proclaimed Baseball Capital of Kansas.  Kirby loves the sport, too.  However, he can’t play and definitely doesn’t want to humiliate himself by trying.  But when the 7th grade team will get the chance to meet homegrown celebrity 6 foot 9 inch NBA start Brett McGrew, Kirby has to go out for the team.
Author LD Harkrader had me both laughing and identifying with her main character and his struggles.
Hope to see more books by Lisa soon.  Check out her website at

outofpatienceThe second, out of patience (Delacourte, 2006) by Brian Meehl reminds me a lot of Holes by Louis Sacher.  I suppose it’s a combination of the humor and the back and forth between the present and the past and how what happened then affects now.  It’s a story about friends and family, a small town, and what you believe.
In this case, 12-year-old Jake Waters definitely believes in the curse–the one that says the Plunger (as in toilet) of Destiny returning to Patience will be the beginning of the final destruction of the town.  The arrival of the dreaded artifact means there won’t even be a seventh game in the KSF Workup Baseball World Series.  As you read, you’ll learn about a variety of “head bonks” as well as the Waters’ men’s philosophy, “when in doubt, don’t move.”

Read about Brian at