Moon Over Manifest

Book review by
Patricia Tauzer, Common Sense Media
Moon Over Manifest Book Poster Image
Popular with kids
Girl finds meaning of home in nostalgic, robust tale.

Parents say

age 13+
Based on 5 reviews

Kids say

age 11+
Based on 11 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Gives helpful insight into life during WWI and the Great Depression, especially in a small Midwestern town, as well as the plight of immigrants who came through Ellis Island.  Resources for further study are listed in the back of the book.  



Positive Messages

By supporting one another, sharing, and listening to each person's story, the people of Manifest overcome their troubles, and the young girl Abilene finds her home. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

Abilene, the main character, is courageous, curious, hardworking, and honest. The townspeople who befriend her and give her a hand have similar qualities. The more conniving, evil people lose out in the end.


One man is stabbed and killed, one loses his foot in an animal trap, a soldier is hit by shrapnel, many people die of influenza, KKK burn a cross in front of a German meeting hall. 

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

The girl comes to live in a place that is home, saloon, and church. The man who takes her in is a family friend who makes jugs of bootleg liquor as a side line. 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this Newbery Medal winner tells a nostalgic, robust story that takes place during the Great Depression (1936) with a secondary story that flashes back to the era of World War I (1917-1918).  There's some violence: One man is stabbed and killed, one loses his foot in an animal trap, a soldier is hit by shrapnel, many people die of influenza, and the KKK burns a cross in front of a German meeting hall. But Abilene is a smart, courageous protagonist who not only finds her home in this moving story, but also helps her new community work through its problems. This book educates readers about WWI and the Great Depression, and also imparts a message about the importance of supporting one another, sharing, and listening to each person's story.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byShaltino June 19, 2019

Can’t put it down!

Engaging and heartwarming, full of twists and surprises!
Adult Written byThe best34328947 April 9, 2019

This book is boring

This is the worst book in the world so boring and not in my interested
Teen, 13 years old Written byweezy212 May 4, 2020


it is a slow book when it is just abilines life but when miss sadie told her stories it was so interesting
Kid, 11 years old September 16, 2012

Great Book

Moon over Manifest is at book. Although the story line was scattered and sort of confusing it was great. Abilene Tucker was abandoned by her father to live in t... Continue reading

What's the story?

After riding the rails and traveling around with her father for most of her life, 12-year-old Abilene is sent back to the town of Manifest, Kansas, to spend the summer living with an old friend of her dad's. At first, she is confused, defensive, and a bit rough-and-tumble abrasive. Her life has been anything but normal up to this point, and she really has no clue about where she should call home. Is it a real place like Manifest? Or is "it not down in any map; true places never are" (a quote from Moby Dick that pops up several times throughout the book). But things quickly begin working out for her. She forms a spy club with some new friends she meets, and they spend the summer unraveling the mysteries of the town, flushed out by stories people tell them, hidden letters -- and a relationship Abilene forms with a Hungarian woman who professes to be from a family of diviners. In the process, Abilene learns about her own father's history, and finds a real home.

Is it any good?

This intriguing story weaves a number of different threads together to create a world that is both believable and mysterious. The characters are an assortment of unique individuals -- from a Hungarian woman with a bit of magic to the spirited protagonist -- each with his or her own story to tell, and life with them in Manifest is both nostalgic and fascinating at the same time. 

Readers will have no trouble connecting with Abilene, since most tweens and teens are trying to find out where they fit in this world just like she is. The flashbacks let her story unfold in a creative way, making this a good resource for teaching storytelling or fiction writing. Historical details about World War I and the Great Depression, as well as the author's list of resources, offer further opportunities for educational exploration.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about historical fiction. How do you find the line between fact and fiction? Do you find it easier to digest history when it's told this way? Does it ever get confusing? 

  • Vanderpool won the 2011 Newbery Award, which the American Library Association gives to the author of the best children's literature book of the year. Do you think this book deserves this prestigious prize? Seeing the list of past winners of Newbery Awards and Honors, are there others you would like to read?

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love history

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