Gantos, Jack Dead End in Norvelt, 352 p. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2011. $15.99 Language: G (0 swears, 0 'f') Violence: PG, Mature Content: G. This is the 2012 Newbery Winner. Jack makes a big mistake at the beginning of the summer which gets him grounded indefinitely. His only ticket out of his room is to help his elderly neighbor, Miss Volker write the town obituaries. Set in a "dying" small town in Pennsylvania, Jack gets involved with Hell's Angels, a possible murder mystery, a refurbished airplane, an old man who rides a giant tricycle and more adventures than a grounded boy is entitled to have.
I loved this book. He has successfully mixed fact and fiction, (Jack Gantos is the main character and Norvelt, Pennsylvania is a real place) Gantos has peppered the story with historical references. He tells how this small town has changed over time, since it's founding during the Depression until Jack's childhood of Post WWII. There were several places where I laughed out loud. His depiction of Old Miss Volker and her arthritic hands is one of the best parts of this book. I would recommend Dead End in Norvelt to any middle school student and Elementary 4th grade and above. It's a great boy read as well. There is some "fake" cussing. This is a delightful book, well deserving of this prestigious award. EL/MS - ESSENTIAL. Lisa, Reading Teacher