Moon Over Manifest

by Clare Vanderpool

Hardcover, 2010



Local notes

Fic Van



Delacorte Books for Young Readers (2010), Edition: 1, 351 pages. Purchased in 2016. $16.99.


Twelve-year-old Abilene Tucker is the daughter of a drifter who, in the summer of 1936, sends her to stay with an old friend in Manifest, Kansas, where he grew up, and where she hopes to find out some things about his past.


Original language


Original publication date


Physical description

351 p.; 5.75 inches


0385738838 / 9780385738835



User reviews

LibraryThing member bell7
Abilene Tucker rode the rails with her father, Gideon, until the day she got hurt and he sent her to Manifest. She knows Manifest because of her father's stories; she knows from his stories that this small town holds a significant place in her father's heart. During the summer of 1936 while she stays with Shady, the fourteen-year interim pastor of the Baptist church, Abilene hopes she can learn more about Gideon Tucker.

Where do I start with my thoughts on this book? I suppose to start at the beginning, I should say that before it won the Newbery Medal, I hadn't even known the book existed. Ever since 2007, I've tried to read the current Newbery Medal winner and at least one honor book, so as soon as the award was announced, I requested it from the library. When I first started reading it, not all that sure what sort of story I was in for, I first noticed the wonderful descriptions. Here's how Abilene describes her father and his stories about Manifest: "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" (2). Then before I knew it I was hooked not only by Abilene's story but the story from 1917 about Jinx and Ned. I grew truly attached to these characters and the many who populate Manifest in both time periods. This was a truly delightful book that I would recommend to children and adults who enjoy good but not overly long description and memorable characters.
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LibraryThing member Whisper1
This is the first book for the author and how very fortunate she is to win the highly prestigious Newbery medal. I confess, while I'm on a quest to read all the Newbery books, and I've read many, I'm certainly not an expert. But, I can say in comparison to other medal winners, this mediocre book leaves me puzzled regarding the choice for the medal.

Both 2011 honor books I've read recently, namely One Crazy Summer and Turtle in Paradise, were richer in plot and character development.

While originally I praised Moon Over Manifest, I was tricked by the beginning wherein a very likable 12 year old girl by the name of Abilene Tucker tugged at my heart. However, as I plodded along, it was laboriously difficult to continue reading.

Abilene Tucker is abandoned by her rail car hoping father and he hands her off to the kind people living in Manifest Kansas (his home town). I liked the people of Manifest; I disliked the sketchy, weak plot and the inability of the author to sustain a depth of character development.

Switching from depression era 1936 back and forth to 1918 when her father lived in Manifest was a problematic glitch in the hands of this unseasoned writer.

I can now say I've read the 2011 medal book. I can also say that I wonder why the panel choose this book, certainly unworthy of a medal or an honor.
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LibraryThing member susiesharp
Abilene Tucker is a motherless child (well it is a Newbery winner and I think this is a requirement) her daddy has sent her to Manifest, Kansas where he used to live there she meets some great characters and sets out to find out more about her father as a young man. This book goes back and forth between Abilene’s story during the depression in 1936 and the story of a young man named Jinx and his best friend Ned in 1918.

This was a good coming of age story filled with quirky characters, and a bit of mystery and it gives you a feel of the times both stories are set in. I fell in love with Abilene and Jinx I ended up rooting for them both in their different time lines, the stories melded together very nicely. This was an uplifting story and has a feel good ending. I highly recommend this to the young and old alike it’s highly entertaining historical fiction for all ages.

4 ½ Stars
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LibraryThing member jolerie
But the woman, the mother, she watches, she waits, she loves. And she bears the weight of that love. She bears the loss of her son to war. She bears the story of Manifest. When everyone else is crushed by it, by the loss, the pain. When no one else can bear to remember. She is the keeper of the story. Until someone who needs to hear it comes along. When it will be time to make it known. To manifest. That's what a diviner does.

After a series of unfortunate events, Abilene Tucker is sent packing to live in her father's hometown of Manifest, Kansas for the summer. In searching for her father's footprints, she learns about the town's history and it's people. The stories tell her nothing about her father and at the same time everything about her father. The last thing she expected to find was a place to belong and yet at the end of her adventures, a home she will find, and town filled with family she could call her own.

Moon Over Manifest is a wonderful story that invokes a warm feeling of nostalgia. Abilene is a curious child who discovers that the world is not what it seems, and the people that fill the her world are more than just a name attached to a face. All people have stories and histories; some choose to share it with the world while others carry it like a burden on their backs. Through Abilene's eyes, we recall memories of summer adventures, of discovering the mysteries of our world, and ultimately, of growing up. Heartily recommended.… (more)
LibraryThing member thelibrarina
I don't think anybody expected this book to win the Newbery. Now that I've read it, I'm surprised nobody saw it coming.

Abilene Tucker's father has found sunmmer work--not something to take for granted in 1936. But it's a railroad job, and Abilene can't stay with him. He sends her to Manifest, Kansas, the town where he grew up--a town that Abilene knows nothing about. Beneath the floorboards of her guardian's house, she finds a cigar box full of old letters and mementos, and after an inauspicious meeting with a diviner named Miss Sadie, she begins to learn what those mementos really mean. Through letters and stories, we watch a pair of young boys grow up in a turbulent time. Meanwhile, Abilene begins to do so herself, coming to acknowledge bittersweet truths about family and what it means to belong somewhere.

The book effortlessly weaves together Abilene's story in 1936 with the stories of Manifest in 1918. Some of the characters from 1918 play a part in 1936; others have children who take on a role. There is a sense of continuity that keeps the story moving even as it switches between times. Some of the characters are connected in ways that I never expected--especially in one heartbreaking story near the end. All of the loose ends come together at the book's conclusion, in a way that is deeply satisfying without being too tidy.

Join the library's hold-list now; this book is well worth a wait, and very much deserving of its Newbery.
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LibraryThing member EdGoldberg
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.
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LibraryThing member keristars
The first description I heard of this book convinced me that I would like it: almost every element is one that I tend to love in my fiction. There's a complex, nested narrative that uses newspapers and letters; there are two timelines woven together, and both are historical; the story involves World War I on the homefront in one narrative thread and the Great Depression with drifters in the other; finally, there are mysteries to be solved as Abilene Tucker learns about her place and the world and what makes a place 'home'.

I did like the book. While reading it, I saw other reviews that indicated the fantastic opening was a false start and the story got slow and petered out around the middle, which made me a bit apprehensive about continuing on, but I found that this wasn't the case at all. I do think that the first few chapters are the strongest, but that is mainly because they hold a completely different purpose to the last part of the book. The first part has Abilene wary and ready to run from Manifest, Kansas, and so the observations she makes reflects that. In the second part, she has begun to accept Manifest as a potential home, and she has grown to know the townsfolk well, so her observations and what she feels about everything changes.

If there's anything that really bothered me about the book, it's that the second half felt like it was too full of the secondary narrative about Manifest in 1918. However, at this point, Abilene's interests are mainly in getting to the end of the story she's hearing, so it's understandable that she'd be spending most of her time listening to it, and not off doing anything else.

I can see why Moon Over Manifest was chosen as a Newbery Award winner. In addition to the themes of finding one's place in the world and what makes a community into a home, there are a lot of historical elements that are interesting to read about - for example, the life of drifters during the Depression, or what it was like on the mostly rural homefront during WW1... there is also some discussion about immigrants in that time, involving the orphan train and the Ku Klux Klan; Prohibition is featured, and so is the Spanish flu, and what it might be like to live in a company town. None of these elements are as important as the thematic ones, but they are nonetheless things that were important at that time, and which would be part of the background noise of any story taking place in 1918 or 1936.

Ultimately, the mystery that Abilene sets out to solve when she gets to Manifest has a fairly obvious answer to the reader who knows what the clues would look like, but that's not the point of the book. It's a character piece, and the purpose of the book is to show how these characters all find their place, and I liked it.
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LibraryThing member mross5325
Good book. A young girl overcomes odds and finds family and community. Two different stories are told through newspaper clippings, letters, and old Hungarian storyteller. One story is about a young boy during World War I and the other takes place during the Depression. The author brings both stories together at the end. Great atmosphere and memorable characters.… (more)
LibraryThing member khiemstra631
Reading the synopsis of Moon Over Manifest convinced me that I should read the 2011 Newbery Medal winner. After doing so, I'm kind of surprised that it won the big prize although it is a charming book. To me the plot seemed pretty transparent, but perhaps for its intended audience, it is not. However, it as still an engaging read, and I very much enjoyed getting to know the characters and watching their relationships evolve and unfold. I'll not bother with a synopsis of the plot as I see that has already been done extensively in other reviews. Suffice it to say that the device of portraying Manifest, KS in both 1918 and 1936 worked very well and made for a fun read. If you enjoy children's literature and historical novels, then you will surely like this book.… (more)
LibraryThing member librarygeek33
This is an awesome book, at any age. It's the kind of work that stands in sharp contrast to the formulaic, how fast can we publish them (not mentioning any names) books one often finds on the bestseller lists these days. It's one of those "I don't want it to end," "I definitely want to read this one again" experiences that happen too infrequently. It certainly puts a lot of pressure on the author for her future sophomore effort. This one was "out of the park".… (more)
LibraryThing member okeanotiszois
2011 Newbery Award Winner

It's 1936, and the effects of the Great Depression are still being experienced by most. Twelve-year-old Abilene Tucker is sent to Manifest, Kansas, by her father. They've spent their life riding the rails and doing various jobs throughout the United States. Abilene is mystified as to why her father has decided to send her away now. However, the town of Manifest has more meaning to her father. It's where he lived when he was younger. Abilene decides to make the best of it as she settles in with Pastor Shady. Shady is an apropos name for him because he is also the local whisky maker in a time when Prohibition was still in effect.
In trying to find pieces of her father in this town, she discovers a box with letters and mementos underneath her floor that are from 1918. This will lead her on a journey through the memories of the locals. Some want to forget, and others have something to hide. While doing odd jobs for Miss Sadie, a Hungarian woman who is known as the local diviner (gypsy), she is told the story of Manifest in 1918, and in turn Abilene learns her own story.
This year's Newbery Award Winning novel is a fantastic debut from Clare Vanderpool. As I read Abilene's story, I felt like I was right there with her. I could taste the dust and feel the heat of the Kansas sun. Abilene is a likeable character who is feisty and opinionated. Vanderpool wonderfully weaves a narrative that brings together two different stories that connect seamlessly about spies, murder, love, and bootlegging. This has become my favorite Newbery Winner, just knocked From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler down a notch.
Ages 9-12
Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers (October 2010)
ISBN: 9780385738835
Available as an eBook.
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LibraryThing member prkcs
Twelve-year-old Abilene Tucker is the daughter of a drifter who, in the summer of 1936, sends her to stay with an old friend in Manifest, Kansas, where he grew up, and where she hopes to find out some things about his past.
LibraryThing member Saladbits
Really liked this book. It definitely deserved the Newbery. It has a complex plot that ties up neatly.
LibraryThing member asomers
This was a terrific book. The characters were well developed and the plot was intriguing. I loved every minute of it. However, I don't think students in grades 5-8 have the background knowledge to truly appreciate the historical details that are included in this story. I realize that the Newbery is not a popularity contest and that it is not based on the number of book sales, but I think this will be a tough sell to most of my students.… (more)
LibraryThing member amandacb
Abilene’s father, Gideon, sends her away to a small town of Manifest, Kansas, while he works a railroad job. Abilene knows something else is going on, but she dutifully heads off to Manifest, “a town with a rich past and a bright future.” What she finds is a town with many secrets.

Abilene stays with Shady, a man who is a mix of a pastor and a bartender, and slowly begins to unravel the secrets of Manifest in an effort to learn more about her father, who lived there as a young boy and man. When Abilene finds an old cigar box filled with curious mementoes (“a cork, a fishhook, a silver dollar, a fancy key, and a tiny wooden baby doll” [35]) and letters, her curiosity is thoroughly piqued. After having to work for the town’s diviner, Miss Sadie, Abilene slowly hears the story behind each memento and letter, and thus the story of the history of Manifest, a town that reached its darkest hour and pulled together.

In a heartfelt ending, Abilene comes to an understanding of her father, and her father comes to an understanding of her. Moon Over Manifest is well-written and the interplay between the book’s present (set in the Great Depression) and past (during World War I) is excellently done.
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LibraryThing member oapostrophe
Abilene Tucker has been sent by her father to stay with a friend in Manifest, Kansas. He spent time there as a boy and now that Abilene is twelve, life on the road doesn't seem like a place for her. The year is 1936 and Manifest is town made up of immigrants from many lands who came to work the coal mines. Abilene's guardian is a man called Shady who does a bit of bootlegging. She finds a cigar box under the floorboards with letters and trinkets and along with two local girls embarks on a hunt for a 'spy' the call the Rattler. Abilene also hopes to learn about the father that she misses terribly.

There are two story lines. The 'present' narrated by Abilene, and the tale of Manifest in 1918 told by Sadie the 'diviner' who puts Abilene to work. there are several mysteries here which are deftly woven and surprising. The influenza epidemic of 1918, WWI, the depression, working conditions for miners are all well covered in this lovely book. Highly recommended.
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LibraryThing member tjsjohanna
Abilene becomes the catalyst for a renewal of hope and community during the difficult days of the Depression. It is also a story of how Abilene discovers the story of where she came from and where she belongs. Ms. Vanderpool's juxtaposition of WWI and the Depression creates some interesting parallels.
LibraryThing member ethel55
Abilene's drifter father, Gideon, sends her to spend the summer with an old friend in Manifest, KS. It's 1936 and these Depression years show that time hasn't been kind to Manifest. Many stores are boarded up, the land is dry and several have left the town for greener pastures. Abilene hopes to find out more about Gideon's past because he spent time here as a kid as well. Right away, Abilene discovers a cigar box full of letters and a summer of adventure for her and her two new friends, cousins Lettie and Ruthanne begins. The tales the Miss Sadie relates of 1918 would do Tom and Huck proud. That is a Manifest that is flourishing, albeit with some of the intolerance brought about by WWI. I was completely immersed in Abilene's story and wonder if the things I loved about this book-- the historical tidbits from WWI, the secrets the town holds, the feelings of redemption--play as well with say, a fourth grader.… (more)
LibraryThing member lindamamak
Didn't want to read this book and am very glad that I took the time. Wonderful book about life in the Mid West traveling back from 1918 to 1936 and how life can change and still be the same. Understand how if was the Newbery winner this year.
LibraryThing member jeffjackson
A wonderful rich weaving of story, history, and characters that reveal the colorful fabric of American society. Having read mostly Australian young adult fiction Moon Over Manifest has awaken me to the freshness of US authors. Thanks Clare Vabderpool for inviting me into a discovery of communal and individual identity. Absolutely enthralled and enjoyed the twiss and tuns with Abilene. A must read!… (more)
LibraryThing member gsmattingly
I enjoyed it even though it is very good for 10-14 year olds. I am a bit older than that. It is about a 12 year old who comes to a small town, Manifest, in SE Kansas in 1936 with a side story about the same town in 1918. I grew up in Kansas but am not really familiar with Frontenac upon which it is based. I also wasn't aware that there were mining towns like this in Kansas.… (more)
LibraryThing member khoov00
I accidentally came across this book through the recommendation of a children's librarian. It was a pleasure to read even as an adult. My pre-teen daughter will also love this award winning book.

Moon over Manifest is a wonderful blend of history and the charm of childhood wonder. It is a well written story that takes you on two journeys that blend together perfectly in the end. I really enjoyed the ride and it was a fun read that I would recommend for anyone from early reader to adult.… (more)
LibraryThing member quirkylibrarian
Unusually "readable" for a Newbery winner! The dual chapters told from Abilene's standpoint and that of Miss Sadie, the Hungarian diviner, reveal the truth of the town of Manifest, Kansas and the reason Abilene's daddy sent her there. Nice pacing and appealing for my readers who enjoy a character driven, emotionally complex story.… (more)
LibraryThing member jfoster_sf
One of the best books I've ever read. When it won the Newbery award, my first thought was "I've never even HEARD of this book!" After reading it, though, I can say that it truly deserves it and I can't wait to read whatever the author writes next, it was truly amazing.
LibraryThing member jenniferthomp75
Enjoyable but inflated tale of a 12 year old girl sent to her father's hometown.

This overly ambitious book tries to do too much and feels bloated because of it. There are too many characters that are underdeveloped and too many story lines. I never felt a real connection to any of the characters.

If you like historical fiction, check out "One Crazy Summer" by Rita Williams-Garcia. It came out in 2010 as well and, in my mind, would have been a better Newbery contender.
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(462 ratings; 4.1)
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