Wow. It was a strange coincidence reading another book right after Wonderstruck that also takes place in two separate time periods but with interestin...moreWow. It was a strange coincidence reading another book right after Wonderstruck that also takes place in two separate time periods but with interesting connections between the two stories in the book.
Several years ago I made a point of reading all of the Newbery winners. Since then, I've never waited so long to read a new one when it was announced. I've had this sitting in my to-read stack for months and months, but it never called out to me. I just wasn't sure I would really like it all that much. I finally decided it was time and past since the next winners will soon be announced. And now I'm ever so glad I finally pulled it out of the stack and read it!
It took a while for the characters and the stories to grab me. I never had a hard time picking it up, but I also didn't have a tough time putting it down. But somewhere in the middle, I'm not even sure when it happened, I was sucked in - hook, line and sinker. I only realized it when I got to the end and I was crying and thinking about the characters in the book like they were real people. When I finished, I wanted to start the book all over again and read it a second time knowing the connections and the surprises in the story. This would be a fabulous reread.
This isn't a book that will have universal appeal to all children. It's a little long and takes its time getting to the point. But I can see it really appealing to those who like great female main characters and those who enjoy historical fiction. Not every reader is looking for short and sweet, light and fluffy. Offer this to those children who like to read books with a little depth and fabulous characters.
I really enjoyed the author's note at the end telling which parts were based on real events and real people. The town of Manifest itself is based on a real town in Kansas where the author's grandparents grew up. I'm sure that's part of why the characters feel so much like real people.
I'm not going to say much about the storyline itself. You can read elsewhere for that. I'm just going to say that if you like historical fiction and quiet stories with great characters who feel like real people, then you should definitely read this. 4.5 stars.(less)
Wow. Easily five stars. This is a MUST for all Madeleine L'Engle fans - and anyone who enjoyed watching The $20,000 Pyramid game show! Once I really g...moreWow. Easily five stars. This is a MUST for all Madeleine L'Engle fans - and anyone who enjoyed watching The $20,000 Pyramid game show! Once I really got started, I didn't want to stop until I had finished. And even once I reached the end, I went back and reread some parts again.
I loved the writing style with short chapters, most with titles that could be categories on The $20,000 Pyramid game show and applied in some way to the events in the chapter. The short chapters also moved the story along quickly, giving you just enough detail to make you wonder at the mysterious events and want to continue. As the story progresses, you start to realize that even some of the mundane events might have great significance. I'm not going to give too much detail, though, because this one is best enjoyed by not knowing too much about the plot before you read it.
I definitely want to read this again sometime, and I also need to see if I can get my hands on a copy of Rebecca Stead's first book, First Light. I could definitely see this winning the Newbery award.(less)
For me, enjoying this one was all about the characters and the interesting setting. Who else but Neil Gaiman could write a Jungle Book-type story and...moreFor me, enjoying this one was all about the characters and the interesting setting. Who else but Neil Gaiman could write a Jungle Book-type story and set it in a graveyard? And he has created a wonderful cast of unique characters that I really cared about. This is also very well-written with great descriptions that set the mood and pull you right into the story. I had fun picking out all the graveyard puns such as characters with a "grave" face or walking "gravely." If I ever read this again, I'm going to keep a list.
I'm not sure how I feel about this book for my library, though. That first chapter is necessary for the rest of the book, but wow, murder of children? In a children's book? So I would say that it definitely isn't a book for younger children. The violence in that first chapter wasn't graphic, but it was definitely there.
Many of my students have read and loved Coraline and always ask for something similar. Although this isn't exactly similar, I think it would appeal to many of those same students. So I'm still deciding whether or not this is a book for my library.(less)