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Moon Over Manifest

Moon Over Manifest

4.2 222
by Clare Vanderpool

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Winner of the 2011 Newbery Medal

The movement of the train rocked me like a lullaby. I closed my eyes to the dusty countryside and imagined the sign I’d seen only in Gideon’s stories: Manifest—A Town with a rich past and a bright future.
Abilene Tucker feels abandoned. Her father has put her on a train, sending her


Winner of the 2011 Newbery Medal

The movement of the train rocked me like a lullaby. I closed my eyes to the dusty countryside and imagined the sign I’d seen only in Gideon’s stories: Manifest—A Town with a rich past and a bright future.
Abilene Tucker feels abandoned. Her father has put her on a train, sending her off to live with an old friend for the summer while he works a railroad job. Armed only with a few possessions and her list of universals, Abilene jumps off the train in Manifest, Kansas, aiming to learn about the boy her father once was.
Having heard stories about Manifest, Abilene is disappointed to find that it’s just a dried-up, worn-out old town. But her disappointment quickly turns to excitement when she discovers a hidden cigar box full of mementos, including some old letters that mention a spy known as the Rattler. These mysterious letters send Abilene and her new friends, Lettie and Ruthanne, on an honest-to-goodness spy hunt, even though they are warned to “Leave Well Enough Alone.”
Abilene throws all caution aside when she heads down the mysterious Path to Perdition to pay a debt to the reclusive Miss Sadie, a diviner who only tells stories from the past. It seems that Manifest’s history is full of colorful and shadowy characters—and long-held secrets. The more Abilene hears, the more determined she is to learn just what role her father played in that history. And as Manifest’s secrets are laid bare one by one, Abilene begins to weave her own story into the fabric of the town.
Powerful in its simplicity and rich in historical detail, Clare Vanderpool’s debut is a gripping story of loss and redemption.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Set in 1936, this memorable coming-of-age story follows 12-year-old Abilene Tucker's unusual summer in her father's hometown of Manifest, Kans., while he's away on a railroad job. Having had an itinerant upbringing, Abilene is eager to connect to her father's childhood, a goal that proves difficult. The immigrant town has become rundown, but is populated with well-developed, idiosyncratic characters and has a dynamic past involving the KKK, an influenza scare, and a bootlegging operation. Manifest's history emerges in stories recounted by Miss Sadie (a Hungarian medium) and in news columns written in 1917 by Hattie Mae Harper, "Reporter About Town." With new friends Lettie and Ruthanne, Abilene pieces together the past, coming to understand, as Miss Sadie says, that "maybe what you're looking for is not so much the mark your daddy made on this town, but the mark the town made on your daddy." Witty, bold, and curious, Abilene is as unforgettable as the other residents of Manifest, and the variety of voices allows the town's small mysteries to bloom. Replete with historical details and surprises, Vanderpool's debut delights, while giving insight into family and community. Ages 9–12. (Oct.)
Children's Literature - Heather N. Kolich
Like the rocking of the train twelve-year-old Abilene Tucker rides into town, the motion of this story never stops. Uncoupling her from his vagabond life on the road, Abilene's father has sent her to spend the summer of 1936 in Manifest, Kansas, a place she knows only from his descriptions, with a shady character from his past. Through the hot, dry days, Abilene searches for traces of her father in the town's history, some old letters, and a stack of newspapers from 1917. At the same time, she and her two new friends, Lettie and Ruthanne, search for clues to the identity of a spy from World War I days—whenever Abilene is not working off a debt to the mysterious and reclusive town diviner, Miss Sadie. As the days spin out, so do Miss Sadie's stories of the past, bringing Abilene closer to knowing her father, even as her suspicions grow that he does not plan to come fetch her at the end of the summer. Abilene works some magic on the townspeople, bringing them together as they try to embrace her and convince her to stay on. But Abilene desperately wants to be with her father. Can she work a little magic—or pull off enough of a con—to convince him to come to Manifest? The story weaves easily from present to past and back again, gripping the reader in both stories. Alternately set between World War I and The Great Depression, the story is sometimes laugh-out-loud funny, and sometimes poignantly sad, but page after page, it is hard to put down. Reviewer: Heather N. Kolich
Kirkus Reviews

When 12-year-old Abilene jumps off the train in Manifest, Kan., in 1936 to stay with her father's boyhood friend, little does she know her sojourn will take her back, via mesmerizing tales, newspaper clippings, curious mementoes and World War I letters, to Manifest as it was in 1918—and into the life of the mysterious boy nicknamed Jinx. This young con man effected extraordinary change in the lives of the mostly immigrant residents and the fortunes of the mining town in that year. Abilene and readers get so caught up in the past in this richly detailed, splendidly written novel that they easily make the transition between the Depression and WWI eras and long to learn more about the town that once was. Readers will love guessing how Abilene's dad fits into all the stories and townspeople's memories. The absolute necessity of story as a way to redemption and healing past wounds is at the heart of this beautiful debut, and readers will cherish every word up to the heartbreaking yet hopeful and deeply gratifying ending. (author's note) (Historical fiction. 10-14)

From the Publisher

Starred review, BOOKLIST, October 15, 2010:
After a life of riding the rails with her father, 12-year-old Abilene can’t understand why he has sent her away to stay with Pastor Shady Howard in Manifest, Missouri, a town he left years earlier; but over the summer she pieces together his story. In 1936, Manifest is a town worn down by sadness, drought, and the Depression, but it is more welcoming to newcomers than it was in 1918, when it was a conglomeration of coal-mining immigrants who were kept apart by habit, company practice, and prejudice. Abilene quickly finds friends and uncovers a local mystery. Their summerlong “spy hunt” reveals deep-seated secrets and helps restore residents’ faith in the bright future once promised on the town’s sign. Abilene’s first-person narrative is intertwined with newspaper columns from 1917 to 1918 and stories told by a diviner, Miss Sadie, while letters home from a soldier fighting in WWI add yet another narrative layer. Vanderpool weaves humor and sorrow into a complex tale involving murders, orphans, bootlegging, and a mother in hiding. With believable dialogue, vocabulary and imagery appropriate to time and place, and welldeveloped characters, this rich and rewarding first novel is “like sucking on a butterscotch. Smooth and sweet.”

Starred review, KIRKUS REVIEWS, September 15, 2010:
“Readers will cherish every word up to the heartbreaking yet hopeful and deeply gratifying ending.”

Starred review, PUBLISHERS WEEKLY, September 27, 2010:
"Replete with historical details and surprises, Vanderpool's debut delights,
while giving insight into family and community.”

"Ingeniously plotted and gracefully told."

From the Hardcover edition.

School Library Journal
Gr 5–8—History and fiction marry beautifully in this lively debut novel. It's as if readers jump off the train in Manifest, KS, in 1936 with Abilene Tucker, 12, the feisty, likable, and perceptive narrator. She is there to live with Pastor Shady Howard, her father's friend, while her father works on the railroad back in Iowa. An equally important story set during World War I is artfully intertwined. Since her mother went off on her own 10 years earlier, Abilene and Gideon have been alone. Though their life together is unsettled, their bond is strong. Shady's place is shabby, but he is welcoming. The mystery about Manifest and Gideon unfolds after Abilene finds a box filled with intriguing keepsakes. It includes a letter dated 1917 to someone named Jinx from Ned Gillen that has a warning, "THE RATTLER is watching." This starts Abilene, with the help of new friends Ruthanne and Lettie, on a search to learn the identity of the pair. The story cleverly shifts back and forth between the two eras. Abilene becomes connected to Miss Sadie, a "diviner" who slowly leads her through the story of Ned and Jinx. Though the girl is lonely, she adjusts to her new life, feeling sure that her father will come for her at summer's end. The Ku Klux Klan and its campaign against the many immigrants working in the coal mines and the deplorable conditions and exploitation of these men provide important background. This thoroughly enjoyable, unique page-turner is a definite winner.—Renee Steinberg, formerly at Fieldstone Middle School, Montvale, NJ

Product Details

Random House Children's Books
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
8.82(w) x 11.28(h) x 1.22(d)
800L (what's this?)
Age Range:
9 - 12 Years

Read an Excerpt

Santa Fe Railway    
Southeast Kansas    
MAY 27, 1936    

The movement of the train rocked me like a lullaby. I closed my eyes to the dusty countryside and imagined the sign I knew only from stories. The one just outside of town with big blue letters: manifest: a town with a rich past and a bright future.  

I thought about my daddy, Gideon Tucker. He does his best talking in stories, but in recent weeks, those had become few and far between. So on the occasion when he'd say to me, "Abilene, did I ever tell you 'bout the time . . . ?" I'd get all quiet and listen real hard. Mostly he'd tell stories about Manifest, the town where he'd lived once upon a time.   His words drew pictures of brightly painted storefronts and bustling townsfolk. Hearing Gideon tell about it was like sucking on butterscotch. Smooth and sweet. And when he'd go back to not saying much, I'd try recalling what it tasted like. Maybe that was how I found comfort just then, even with him being so far away. By remembering the flavor of his words. But mostly, I could taste the sadness in his voice when he told me I couldn't stay with him for the summer while he worked a railroad job back in Iowa. Something had changed in him. It started the day I got a cut on my knee. It got bad and I got real sick with infection. The doctors said I was lucky to come out of it. But it was like Gideon had gotten a wound in him too. Only he didn't come out of it. Andit was painful enough to make him send me away.   I reached into my satchel for the flour sack that held my few special things. A blue dress, two shiny dimes I'd earned collecting pop bottles, a letter from Gideon telling folks that I would be received by Pastor Howard at the Manifest depot, and my most special something, kept in a box lined with an old 1917 Manifest Herald newspaper: my daddy's compass.  

In a gold case, it wore like a pocket watch, but inside was a compass showing every direction. Only problem was, a working compass always points north. This one, the arrow dangled and jiggled every which way. It wasn't even that old. It had the compass maker's name and the date it was made on the inside. St. Dizier, October 8, 1918. Gideon had always planned to get it fixed, but when I was leaving, he said he didn't need it anyway, what with train tracks to guide him. Still, I liked imagining that the chain of that broken compass was long enough to stretch all the way back into his pocket, with him at one end and me at the other.  

Smoothing out the yellowed newspaper for the thousandth time, I scanned the page, hoping to find some bit of news about or insight into my daddy. But there was only the same old "Hogs and Cattle" report on one side and a "Hattie Mae's News Auxiliary: Charter Edition" on the other, plus a couple of advertisements for Liberty Bonds and Billy Bump's Hair Tonic. I didn't know anything about Hattie Mae Harper, except what she wrote in her article, but I figured her newspaper column had protected Gideon's compass for some time, and for that I felt a sense of gratitude. I carefully placed the newspaper back in the box and stored the box in the satchel, but held on to the compass. I guess I just needed to hold on to something.  

The conductor came into the car. "Manifest, next stop."  

The seven-forty-five evening train was going to be right on time. Conductors only gave a few minutes' notice, so I had to hurry. I shoved the compass into a side pocket of the satchel, then made my way to the back of the last car. Being a paying customer this time, with a full-fledged ticket, I didn't have to jump off, and I knew that the preacher would be waiting for me. But as anyone worth his salt knows, it's best to get a look at a place before it gets a look at you. I'd worn my overalls just for the occasion. Besides, it wouldn't be dark for another hour, so I'd have time to find my way around.  

At the last car, I waited, listening the way I'd been taught--wait till the clack of the train wheels slows to the rhythm of your heartbeat. The trouble is my heart speeds up when I'm looking at the ground rushing by. Finally, I saw a grassy spot and jumped. The ground came quick and hard, but I landed and rolled as the train lumbered on without a thank-you or goodbye.  

From the Hardcover edition.

Meet the Author

Clare Vanderpool grew up reading books in unusual places—in dressing rooms, in the bathroom, while walking down the sidewalk (sometimes into telephone poles), in church, in math class. Moon Over Manifest is set in the fictional small town of Manifest, Kansas, which is based on the real southeastern Kansas town of Frontenac, home of both of her maternal grandparents.

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Moon Over Manifest 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 222 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I know this book is supposed to be for young people, but I'm an adult and I loved it. It was a fast read and I found it hard to put down. I was anxious to see how the story would end, but once there, I hated for it to be over. I highly recommend this book to anyone.
EdNY More than 1 year ago
Sometimes you know why a book is an award winner and sometimes you don't. In the case of Moon Over Manifest (Newbery Award winner), a debut novel by Clare Vanderpool, it is evident from page one that you are reading a wonderful book. The story itself, the characters, the writing all combine into a beautifully woven tale about Abilene Tucker, sent by her father, Gideon, to Manifest, Kansas for the summer of 1936 while he goes off to work on the railroad, a dangerous place for a twelve year old girl. Hitching train rides with her father since she was tiny, Abilene jumps the train before it rolls into the Manifest depot. According to her, it's best to get the lay of the land ahead of time. Gideon had lived in Manifest for a time as a boy and has entrusted Abilene to the care of Shady, the town barkeep (in the time of Prohibition) and (long-term) interim preacher. Shady, knowing Gideon and his traveling habits, meets Abilene as she walks into town, calm as can be. She, and we, are immediately introduced to Hattie Mae Harper, the town's newspaper reporter and author of the column Hattie Mae's News Auxiliary. Abilene begins to get an uneasy feeling about Gideon and his returning to get her from the whispering going on between Shady and Hattie Mae. The following day is the last day of school for the summer and oddly enough, Shady makes Abilene attend-to get to know the local kids. Another omen regarding Gideon's return. There she befriends Ruthanne and Lettie who become her best friends. Crucial to the story is Miss Sadie, a diviner or reader of the earth and its surroundings, who while Abilene tends her garden, tells a tale of Manifest during1917 and 1918, focusing in on two boys, Ned and Jinx and their adventures, travails and dreams. How Ned and Jinx fit into the Manifest of 1936 and the lives of Abilene and Shady is slowly, lovingly unveiled. And, yes, there might have been a tear or two in my eye when I read the last chapter. If I were to ponder forever, I don't think I could think of a way to improve Moon Over Manifest. One can tell it's a labor of love. Every character is just right from Miss Sadie to Abilene and Shady, to the mean Mr. Devlin, owner of the local coal mine. The interspersing of history (Prohibition, World War I, the horrid conditions under which coal miners worked, the Midwest draught) with the lives of the townspeople to the beliefs of the times about such things as elixirs and hair tonic make Moon Over Manifest fascinating. Ms. Vanderpool's wordsmithing couldn't be better. She manages to create suspense, humor, love and heartache in her marvelous story. So take the time to treat yourself. Get carried away in Moon Over Manifest. There are many authors writing books these days. However, there are few 'storytellers' in that grand old tradition and Clare Vanderpool should now be included in their ranks.
TexRogers More than 1 year ago
I have only been really doing a lot of reading for about a year now. In this book, Abilene is cool and when she finds an old cigar box with some letters in that that give reference to a spy called Rattler, Abilene and her friends start a spy hunt. This was my first shot at trying to get into a mystery that also had historical aspects in the book on the recommendation of my teacher. I did get through the book; but, I wouldn't recommend this book for kids my age that have been reluctant readers. If you love reading and have been for years, you will like this book! Tex
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is probably considered juvenile fiction, but I adored it. And I am way past being a juvenile, believe me. The main character, Abiline, is captivating, funny, and believable. I would not hesitate to recommend.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was a great book I'd recomend it to anyone.......ALL AGES!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
"Moon Over Manifest" by Clare Vanderpool was an amazing novel to read. To sum it up, it was about a girl whose father has sent her off to a mysterious town so the father can work. The girl feels abandoned, but when she meets a fortune teller, some girls, a nun, and the past, her adventures begin. Through heartbreaks, distress, anxiety and happiness, this story sure is a bumpy ride for emotions.
Psyche14 More than 1 year ago
I loved the mixture of characters in this story, and the moment I started reading this book I fell in love with the character and the overall storyline. This is the kind of book you just want to stare at after you've finished it. If this doesn't sound like enought to make you read it, I don't know what will. Read the synopsis.
Savannah Agee More than 1 year ago
At first for me it was hard to catch on to, but once you get a bout halgway through it great
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Dont listnen to any of the reviews that say that this book is fine or that it sucks cause they are wrong! Best book ever!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was a great book. I liked how at the end of the book how all the characters were intertwined.I would definitely recommend this book!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love this book! As so many others have said, Abeline's father sends her off on a train so he can work. Later on, Abeline finds a box with letters that bring up a spy. I highly reccomend Moon over Manifest.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book will touch all your emotions. Fast read too.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Moon Over Manifest is about a 12 year old girl named Abilene Tucker who gets sent by her dad to go to Manifest, Kansas in 1936. There are 2 parts in this book. One part takes place in 1918 and the other part takes place in 1936. When Abilene arrives in Manifest, she thinks Manifest is a gloomy place and not a very cheerful environment to be in. She then finds some letters and wonders who wrote them. Abilene goes to a diviner named Miss Sadie. Miss Sadie tells a story to Abilene about the people who wrote the letters. Abilene thinks the story is false. The thing is that Abilene didn’t even tell Miss Sadie about the letters. Moon Over Manifest was a good book. I liked this book because it was really adventurous. This book made pictures in my head. It was kind of a mystery book too. I liked how the author gave good personalities to each character in the book. Moon Over Manifest is a great book for people who like adventure books.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Ginnydog More than 1 year ago
Definently one of my favorites! It tells amazing tale through past and present and holds several secrets that just make this book amazing and wonderful.:)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The book Moon Over Manifest is the most clever, chilling and enveloping historical fiction book i have read in yaers!!! Trust me, once you start, there is no stoping the reading rampage you will get!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I trully loved this book! Each chapter fit together like an unpredictable puzzle. Though the ending may be easy to fortell, red-herring ascepts made the book interesting, and made you rethink your predictions. The book was trully intriguing and different! I hope you take the time to try it! I often find it is very helpful to know what other books reviewers liked in order to get an idea of their taste in books so I have written below of some of my favorite books (of this reading level): Walk Two Moons (by: Sharon Creech) The Outsiders (S.E. Hinton) Out of My Mind (Sharon Draper) ... ETC.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
So gooood!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"""
Balina More than 1 year ago
this book is amazing. enjoyed it a lot and would recommend to everyone.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I think that this book is okay to me so far, and i am only on like page 120. I personally really don't like scary mysteries, but this has been really good so far. I think that it is one of the best books that i have read. Look at some more book reviews to find my opinion on them!
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I first heard Moon Over Manifest in school to practice the PARCC test. I thought it was goood when i first heard it ,so i went home and uploaded it on my nook!!!!!!! Awesome book so far! :-)