Dead End in Norvelt
By Jack Gantos
Farrar Straus Giroux, 2011. 341 pages. Fiction.
Dead End in Norvelt is loosely based on author Jack Gantos' childhood. This year's Newbery award winner is a fun adventure, with plenty of laugh-out-loud moments. Jack is a young boy in the sixties who has just been grounded for the summer- after plowing down his mom's corn crop and shooting his dad's rifle. As punishment, Jack's mom makes him help their elderly neighbor write obituaries and record the history of their strange town. There are a lot of funny moments, such as when Mrs. Volker tries to cure Jack's constant bloody noses by cauterizing the inside of his nose. It sounds gruesome, but I couldn't stop laughing at the way Gantos describes the scene! When the older citizens mysteriously begin dying off in Norvelt, life gets even more topsy turvy. I really did like this book, although I don't think it was the best children's book of 2012. It's a great book for boys who like a little mystery and a lot of humor. Gary Schmidt's Wednesday Wars is a similar read.