Moon Over Manifest by Clare Vanderpool
Winner, 2011 Newbery Award
Twelve-year-old Abilene spends the summer with a friend of her father's in the small town of Manifest, Kansas in 1936 while her father works at a railroad job.
"Arthur Devlin, you and my husband may have been in the same grade, but you were never in the same class."
About the Author
Clare Vanderpool lives in Wichita, Kansas. Her first book, Moon Over Manifest, was based on the southeastern town of Frontenac, home of both of her maternal grandparents.
I've been thinking about doing a project with fabric, so I decided to use denim as the background for this piece. Abilene loves wearing her overalls rather than more ladylike dresses.
I wanted to represent prohibition and folk medicine with the tiny glass bottles since that's a major theme in the book. (I did take some artistic liberty in choosing green bottles rather than the more traditional brown that would have been used.) The bottle on the far left is labeled "2011" because that's the year of the Newbery award. The middle one has a flower on the label and some little pom-poms inside to represent some of the weeds and flowers that Abilene gathers for the diviner. (I would've loved to put some real dried flowers or leaves inside, but there's more than a foot of snow on the ground!) The last one is labeled "Velma T's Vitamin Revitalizer" since that plays a heavy role in the book.
The brass tree branch represents the tree house where Abilene and her friends Lettie and Ruthanne spend time reviewing old letters and planning their adventures.
This adventure book is the story of an entire town, covering lots of historical ground with references to prohibition, the Klan, World War I, murder, spies, the flu epidemic, immigration, poverty, railroads, and mining. Chapters in the book switch between the present day (1936) to wartime (1918), using a mix of old letters, short newspaper articles, and the voice of a storyteller/diviner, as well as Abilene herself. For me, the most interesting part of this book was learning how the author researched it, using stories she heard as a child, as well as research in town newspapers, yearbooks, and graveyards.
Readers: If you read this book, I'd love to hear what you think in the comments.