"School was finally out and I was standing on a picnic table in our backyard getting ready for a great summer vacation when my mother walked up to me and ruined it." So begins a truly hilarious story of a young Jack Gantos who, although grounded, befriends an elderly neighbor, and gets wrapped up in the struggle between the past and the future of his dying town. Many of the people in town are elderly, and the younger people have moved away to find work. As he helps to write obituaries as the town founders die, Jack learns about the history of the town in which he was born, including important life-lessons, even as he gets swept into one of the biggest mysteries of the town's history.
Dead End in Norvelt by Jack Gantos is a fantastic historical fiction novel which provokes interest in learning about various parts of American and World History. Indeed, I find myself wanting to know more about Eleanor Roosevelt, the founder of Norvelt, as well as various other parts of history mentioned throughout the book. One of this year's Indian Paintbrush Nominees and the winner of the 2012 Newbery Award, I would recommend this book to anyone in 4th grade and higher. The lexile level is 920, which puts it in the 4th-5th grade lexile range. I hope you enjoy Dead End in Norvelt as much as I did!
One of the reasons I became an elementary school librarian is so I can read children's books.