The Daily Parent - Super Parenting in a Busy World

Children's Books with Celia Reeds

Newbery Medal Winner: Dead End in Norvelt
Posted 2/14/2012 9:50:00 AM

This year’s Newbery Medal winner, Dead End in Norvelt, like most Jack Gantos novels, is quirky, funny and, of course, like no other book out there.

Meet the town of Norvelt: a place nobody really wants to live anymore. Whether dying or moving away, Norvelt residents are leaving the town in droves.

Meet Jack Gantos. He’s about to start what he expects to be a spectacular summer full of baseball, exploring and playing with his dad’s cool military gear. But all that is ruined when Jack accidentally fires his father’s rifle and is grounded for the entire vacation. On top of this, Jack’s mother decides to lend Jack out to Miss Volker, an elderly neighbor who needs some assistance. Can it get any worse?

Dead End in NorveltHowever, the task Miss Volker has in mind is a bit more exciting than weeding an old lady’s vegetable garden. She happens to be the town’s medical examiner AND obituary writer, so every time an elderly resident kicks the dust, she requires Jack’s assistance. Suddenly this “task” seems a little more exciting than sitting in a room for the summer. And, fortunately for Jack, Norveltians are dying at an alarming rate, giving him an excuse to leave the house just about every day. Although, in time, all this dying begins to arouse suspicions among the town’s remaining residents, especially the nosy police officer, Mr. Spizz. Could there be a murderer on the loose?

With plenty of bloody noses, dead bodies, motorcycle gangs, history lessons, airplanes, mysterious circumstances and new friendships, Dead End in Norvelt is one wild ride from start to finish.

Only Jack Gantos can pull off a book like Norvelt. He has a certain way of making the macabre and absurd come across as funny and intriguing for kids and adults alike. We might be a little hesitant at first, but Gantos inevitably wins us over, and before long we come to embrace the oddity of his story; we wouldn’t want it any other way. One thing so distinctive about a Gantos book is voice, and Norvelt is no exception. There is a near satirical edge to the book’s tone that is nicely balanced by its heart.  Not surprisingly, Gantos also does a superb job capturing the character of Jack. There is something genuine yet amusing in how Jack looks at the world, and his words and thoughts are quintessentially “11-year-old boy.”  

But ultimately, what lies at the core of Novelt is the friendship between Jack and Miss Volker. It’s an odd match, to say the least, but somehow Miss Volker and Jack find a sense of companionship with one another that they can’t find with anyone else. Turns out, they have more in common than one would think.

Chock full of laugh-out loud moments, I couldn’t put the book down. I’ll admit, I’ve always been a Gantos fan, but Dead End in Norvelt is my favorite of all of his books. While I wouldn’t necessarily have chosen it to win the Newbery Medal, I certainly do consider it a very worthy contribution to children’s literature.

Make sure to pick this one up for your 10-12 year old son. I can almost guarantee he’ll be laughing out loud before you know it.


Jack Adrift
Joey Pigza Loses Control
Joey Pigza Swallowed the Key
Posted By: Celia Reeds  

Leave a comment:

showing all comments · Subscribe to comments
  1. skyouts posted on 11/20/2014 03:02 AM
    Among the events is a weekly teenagers' ball. It was too close to call in this category and our panel goedkope timberlands sale eventually declared Whistler and Steamboat joint winners. Renowned powder haven, Steamboat, demonstrated its commitment to prioritising sustainability in its on-mountain improvements last season, which included the $5m construction of the goedkope timberland schoenen dames sale Four Points Lodge restaurant. Eco-friendly measures were adopted throughout the build, such as low-energy insulated windows, composting and carbon dioxide sensors to monitor air quality. Meanwhile, to make its night-skiing operation as green as possible, timberland schoenen outlet the resort installed state-of-the-art lighting designed to conserve energy and minimise light pollution.
  2. skyouts posted on 12/24/2014 02:21 AM
    Now on to Cyber Monday -- and the deals are better than ever!Like last year, cheap air jordan shoes I'm leading a team of more than 50 people from around the country who have worked relentlessly to track down air jordan australia online the biggest and best deals and they're all in one place today. Before you start saving, here are four important points: 1) We do not air jordan australia sale make a dime from any deal or for mentioning any store.
  3. sarahdanielf posted on 04/22/2015 03:14 AM
    And so, for anybody who becomes a celebrity ralph lauren polo sale , you would see people who would want to associate with you, not because of your real person, but because of the popularity and cloud of celebrity that surrounds you. It's a mix of all of that and you decide on how to handle the situation plus size cocktail dresses with sleeves . Love At First SightIt was a case of getting to know the kind of person she was, and knowing that she was a family oriented person. She's also a very professional person, and it took a cousin of hers to introduce us to each other. Your Parents Opposing The UnionNot at all. My dad's main concern is whether she's somebody that 'you are comfortable with Men's Polo Shirts on Sale , somebody who can support your dreams and make you grow as you would want to grow. If she's, then we will support you'.
showing all comments