Award Winning Books for Boys
Dead End in Norvelt is the winner of the 2012 Newbery Medal for the year’s best contribution to children’s literature and the Scott O’Dell Award for Historical Fiction!
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.
I really like quirky small town Americana books, especially when it’s a twisted version of what would appear to be a Norman Rockwell painting come to life. Somehow, the characters in small towns all seem to have deep secrets, and simmer with emotions that are barely held in check. It’s like these small town Newbery chapter books all give their characters license to be politically incorrect, weird, and downright dangerous. And I love them all!
Because of Winn Dixie
by Kate DiCamillo
Everyone is hurting in this story. India Opal Buloni is hurting because she has just moved to a new town with her father and doesn’t know anyone. Opal’s father is hurting because he misses Opal’s mom who left when Opal was just three. Opal soon meets a whole town of hurting people, lonely, disconnected hurting people.Everyone is hurting. And then a dog arrives in a store, a dog with bald patches, a skinny dog, but a dog who somehow knows how to smile and make the hurting stop. Opal takes that dog home and soon the dog, the dog with bald patches, the skinny dog, has found a way to bring together a group of lonely hurting people.This was a wonderful read, an uplifting read, a sad story but a happy story, a story that reminds us again of the power of friendship and compassion and forgiveness and empathy and even a mangy dog to change the world. By Debnance at Readerbuzz
A Year Down Yonder
by Richard Peck
Mary Alice’s childhood summers in Grandma Dowdel’s sleepy Illinois town were packed with enough drama to fill the double bill of any picture show. But now she is fifteen, and faces a whole long year with Grandma, a woman well-known for shaking up her neighbors-and everyone else! All Mary Alice can know for certain is this: when trying to predict how life with Grandma might turn out . . . better not. This wry, delightful sequel to the Newbery Honor Book A Long Way from Chicago has already taken its place among the classics of children’s literature.
The Seven Wonders of Sassafras Springs
by Betty G. Birney
Life in Sassafras Springs has always been predictable, boring even, but one afternoon that changes when Eben McAllister’s pa challenges him to find Seven Wonders in Sassafras that rival the real Seven Wonders of the World. The reward? An adventure that Eben’s been craving — a trip to Colorado.Even doesn’t think he’ll have any luck — he can’t think of one single thing that could be considered wondrous in Sassafras — but he’s willing to try. Little does he know that the Wonders he’ll discover among his neighbors, friends, relatives, and family will give him the adventure of a lifetime…without ever leaving his home.
Everything on a Waffle
by Polly Horvath
Primrose Squarp simply knows her parents did not perish at sea during a terrible storm, but try convincing the other residents of Coal Harbour on that score. For all practical purposes, at least for the time being, Primrose is an orphan, and there’s no great clamoring of prospective adopters. After realizing the impracticability of continuing to pay Miss Perfidy (a mothball-scented elderly lady) an hourly wage to baby-sit her, the town council is able to locate a relative, Uncle Jack, who reluctantly takes Primrose into his care. Primrose does warm up to living with him and in his home, despite the eerie noises resembling a hockey game that haunt her in the night. But true sanctuary can always be found at a restaurant called The Girl in the Swing, where everything—including lasagna—is served on a waffle, and where the proprietor, Miss Bowzer, offers a willing ear, as well as sage advice. Through a mixture of eccentric humor and probing philosophy, author Polly Horvath makes Primrose’s search for peace and understanding a most memorable one.
Everything on a Waffle is a 2001 Boston Globe – Horn Book Award Honor Book for Fiction and Poetry and a 2002 Newbery Honor Book.
Dead End in Norvelt was described to me as funny but it’s not LOL funny but quirky funny. Though old people are dropping like flies, there is a comic book lightness to what should be disturbing violence and a sense of impending doom. No, instead, we, the reader, are mesmerized by young Jack as he helps to write the obituaries with his elderly neighbor, Miss Volker, who hands are so stiff with arthritis that she had to practically boil them in paraffin wax to get them moving.
And that is exactly the kind of strange-but-true world that Jack Gantos creates for us, over and over again. Perhaps this is an everyday remedy in small town America? It probably even works but still … there is just something strange about it.
More questions persist. Is this his biography? The protagonist does happen to be named JACK GANTOS for example. And, to get to the heart of the book. Why are the geriatrics dying off? Who will be next? Shouldn’t we be more concerned for god’s sake instead of so amused?!
What is your favorite small town Newbery-ish chapter book?
This is the audio book that I am giving away. Please leave a comment to win. You must live in the U.S. or have a U.S. shipping address to win.
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Congrats to Valerie! She won the audio book!
I am giving away the audio book narrated by author Jack Gantos of Newbery 2012 chapter book Winner Dead End in Norvelt. U. S. and Canada only please.