January 26, 2012

Dead End

So many wonderful lines that made me laugh out loud! My favorite character was Mrs. Volker- she may be one of my all time favorite characters. One of my favorite lines comes when Jack admits to his friend Bunny that he loves to smell books. She is not amused and says "You used to be my friend, but now you stink as a friend! I came over here to give you a second chance and you make me smell the crotch of an old book!"  So funny! Very touching- slow at the get go, but it really pulls together in the end. A great way to get boys to read historical fiction? Hand them this Newbery Winner!

I can't post about a historical fiction book without getting all teacher-y. When you read this book, you will be living in Norvelt Pennsylvania along with the characters. I was fascinated by this little town. Jack Gantos does a great job weaving the history of the town into the story that Mrs. Volker tells, but I still had to research.
As you will learn from the book, Norvelt was established in 1934. It was a town built to provide homes to out of work or injured coal miners. Up until this point, coal miners and their families lived in terrible conditions.  As part of The New Deal, 250 homes were built for families.

Originally named Westmoreland Homesteads, it was later renamed Norvelt after Eleanor Roosevelt. 1,800 people applied for the 250 openings in the town. Those who were selected went to work building their own houses. After the homes were complete, the people received a wheel barrow, shovel, rake and hoe next to a pile of dirt where they created their own lawn. They also needed to paint their home. They could pick from white, grey or yellow. Each plot of land had gardens, grape vines, corn crops and a chicken coop.
Families  rented the homes from the government for about $12 a month. This rent went towards purchase of the home and by 1948, all of the residents had purchased their homes in full.

From ExplorePAHistory


  1. Well. Now I am curious. Was all set to not like it so much (really I was going to get around to reading it eventually just to be sure but I wasn't going to be in any hurry to do it) .... Now I will read it sooner because maybe it IS a lot better than my first impression!

  2. Just waiting for this to arrive at the library! It's o/o and I sooo looking forward to reading it!

  3. This seems like a really good book!