Winner of the John Newbery Metal for the best children's book of 2011.
Melding the entirely true and the wildly fictional, Dead End in Norvelt is a novel about an incredible two months for a kid named Jack Gantos, whose plans for vacation excitement are shot down when he is "grounded for life" by his feuding parents, and whose nose spews bad blood at every little shock he gets. But plenty of excitement (and shocks) are coming Jack's way once his mom loans him out to help a fiesty old neighbor with a most unusual chore - typewriting obituaries filled with stories about the people who founded his utopian town. As one obituary leads to another, Jack is launced on a strange adventure involving molten wax, Eleanor Roosevelt, twisted promises, a homemade airplane, Girl Scout cookies, a man on a trike, a dancing plague, voices from the past, Hells Angels... and possibly murder.
Endlessly surprising, this sly, sharp-edged narrative is the author at his very best, making readers laugh out loud at the most unexpected things in a dead-funny depiction of growing up in a slightly off-kilter place where the past is present, the present is confusing, and the future is completely up in the air.
©2011 Jack Gantos (P)2011 Macmillan Audio
My favorite genres are absurdist humor, Sci-fi & modern fantasy, but, as you can see, I'll read just about anything. Don't mind the typos.
Original, entertaining and funny. Norvelt is an amusing story that could be recommended to anyone at any age.
The chraacters are charming. Imaginie the protagonist beiing grounded for the whole summer except when he gos to help an elderly lady who writes obits. She is a fabulous writer, we shoul all have such a gifted writer. She iincludes significent history among her writings, historical facts you will enjoy remembering and surprised you'd forgotten. Norvlt is a real place and you ned to know what it means.
Jack and Miss Volker--together they make the story roll.
He has a gift for humor and plays on words. You won't put this book down or begin to think about how small towns begin to meet their demise.
No film for this book
Tangential, eclectic, avid listener... favorite book is the one currently in ear.
Bought this book right after learning it was the Newberry winner, I usually love the books they select. The plot had so much potential and I wanted to like it. Actually had to force myself to finish it to see if the end was so great it made up for the beginning. Found it a jerky ride of manic tangents and multiple themes barely held together in a story so random and contrived that I couldn't force myself to suspend disbelief.
I was sick of nosebleeds, old ladies being murdered and frequent, irritating "faux" swearing (like cheeses crust) by multiple persons, which as read by reader sounded like normal swearing. The main character is a young teen who speaks, thinks and evaluates like an old man looking back rather than a teen experiencing the events. All the characters are quirky and felt manufactured. The setting in the 50's didn't feel real either, a bomb shelter being dug in the back yard does not an era make.
Someone obviously likes it, but many books in the past few years just earning "honors" and not the award are much better.
I really like the way Mr. Gantos weaves history in with the story. It makes the story very rich. Especially since this is a book for kids--I love that he's finding a way to talk to children in a way they understand and say "hey! history MATTERS!!"
Some people are cut out to be audio readers; others are not. Mr. Gantos is a great writer but he is definitely not cut out for being the reader. I wish he had hired someone else to read it for him. (Example JK rowling hired Jim Dale. I think if she read Harry Potter to us, it would have been bad.) Anyway, his performance killed it for me. I kept thinking how he was running over his own words. Frustrating.
funny, exciting, informing
The Miracle of Miss Willie
When Jack first goes to Mrs. Norvelts house and it look like she is melting her hands in a big pot. He ends up past out on the floor. My six year old was so enchanted and worried about what the crazy old lady was doing.
The ending when he figures out the purpose of History.
I loved how he entwined the history and made it relevant. My children and I could not get enough. We have started playing our favorite chapters over again and my 6 year old is acting out his favorite parts.
I liked the humor Jack Gantos infused in the story. The book of is full of quirky characters we have all encountered in our own lives, and the honest perspective of the main character makes the situations he finds himself in all the more enjoyable to read. It is always good for grown ups to remember how kids often view them and kids will empathize with Jack's difficulty in figuring out the adults (and kids) in his life.
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