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Dead End in Norvelt by Jack Gantos
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's review
Jun 28, 2012

it was ok
bookshelves: inte5990-database

Gantos, J. (2011). Dead End in Norvelt. New York: Farrer Straus Giroux.
Gr. 4-6. Jack is grounded for the summer, but only because he fired a Japanese rifle of his father’s and cut down his mother’s corn crop. He can’t go anywhere except Miss Volker’s house to help her write obituaries of the original Norvelt community members. And suddenly, there are a lot of original community members dying – why? Jack has his suspicions, and he wants to find out if he is right.
Curriculum: There are many allusions in this novel that make good research topics. The novel seems to be set in the 1950s, when the Cold War with the USSR was getting going, and there are references to bomb shelters and “those Commies;” there are references to WWII and Eleanor Roosevelt; there are references to Hiroshima and the bomb which destroyed it; there are references to how Americans felt about Japanese people after the war. All of these topics of history would make for good discussions and research. One of the book’s themes is about learning from history not to repeat mistakes, so a good research project would be to look at history to see where “mistakes” were made and then repeated. The story takes place in a small town, and the history of the town is being recorded through obituaries of the community members who die; good discussions about keeping history alive through genealogy could come from that topic. Another theme of the book is responsibility to our community and to our neighbors.
Awards: Newbery Medal (2012), Scott O'Dell Award (2012)

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