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Moon Over Manifest



Every story has value in robust, nostalgic Newbery winner.

What parents need to know

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

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. 

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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. 

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 is 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.

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.

Families can talk 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

Author:Clare Vanderpool
Genre:Historical Fiction
Book type:Fiction
Publisher:Delacorte Press
Publication date:October 12, 2010
Number of pages:368
Publisher's recommended age(s):9 - 12
Award:Newbery Medal and Honors

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Kid, 11 years old February 16, 2011

Great Story!

I highly enjoyed this. Once I got past the boring title and cover, I found this very enjoyable. Set in the Great Depression and WWI, Moon Over Manifest is educational on the lives of many people during the times. The main character, Abilene, is interesting and clever. I, personally, preferred the story being told by Miss Sadie. The transitions into Miss Sadie's stories were fluid, but the ones out of her stories were not quite as smooth. The story starts fairly slow, and I was originally reading this because my mom wanted me to. Once I got a fair ways into the story, however, I was reading it because I was interested in it. There is some violence, none of it especially graphic, however. At one point a man is stabbed, and another man blames it on a boy who gets knocked unconscious, and the boy goes through most of the story thinking he is the culprit. The same man who was the killer steps in a steel trap and falls backward, dying from a rock his head hits, but leaves his foot and boot behind. A main character dies at war, and many people die of the flu. Many important characters have to work in a mine which pays very little, and only in vouchers for the company store, which charges twice the regular cost. Finally, the members of the Ku Klux Klan burn a cross to warn some German miners having a meeting. I feel this story is best for strong readers eleven and up. While boys may like it, the main character is a girl, though the main characters in Miss Sadie's stories are boys.
What other families should know
Educational value
Great messages
Kid, 12 years old May 13, 2014


I really did not like this book from start to finish. It has a confusing storyline, and like all stories should, there really isn't a problem, or climax in the book.
What other families should know
Educational value
Great messages
Kid, 11 years old June 16, 2011

The best book review of Moon Over Manifest

I think it's a very book just from hearing the summary right away I went and bought and plus it's only about 10.00 dollars. It's a good book, from my own reading to myself outloud I got a movie out of it, it should be made into a movie it would be a good movie for all ages.
What other families should know
Educational value