….and the winner is…
Dead End in Norvelt. Jack Gantos. Farrar Straus Giroux, 2011.
I loved this semi-autobiographical gem about Jack’s summer in Norvelt, PA, the year he turned 12. That summer he was grounded and spent much of it helping Mrs. Volker write obituaries and driving her (yes, in a car) to examine the deceased in her role as medical examiner. We should be very thankful he kept such wonderful journals of his childhood to draw on for his novels and that he is such a great observer of the details and quirks that make people such great characters. I recommend this book for grades 6 – 8. Kids will need some background information on Eleanor Roosevelt and her Homestead program. There are many good biographies available about her. This also has great possibilities for a lit study book.
If you ever have a chance to hear Jack speak, I highly recommend it. He is at the top of my favorite speakers list.
Here is a link to his National Book Award speech in 2011. He talks a lot about Norvelt.
Also, go to NPR’s website and hear him interviewed on Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me. Be prepared to laugh out loud!