Review: Dead End in Norvelt by Jack Gantos

dead endFound this one in the library in the children’s section as I was looking for books my third grader would read. I found the cover to be interesting, and the large endorsement from one of my personal heroes, Dave Barry, across the top sealed the deal. He declared it to be “A brilliant book.” I decided to check it out.

Winner of the 2012 Newbery medal for children’s literature, Dead End in Norvelt is the story of a fictional boy named Jack Gantos (not to be confused with the author!) who lives in a small town where a lot of old ladies are turning up dead. He helps his neighbor, a LOL (little old lady) herself, type their obituaries for the local newspaper. Not only does he learn the town’s history, but experiences some strange run-in’s at the funeral home, and is asked to go on bizarre errands by his neighbors.

Filled with humor and a Christmas Story-esque sense of nostalgia for the bygone era of the 1960’s, Dead End in Norvelt is filled with charm and memorable moments. Suitable for a fourth or fifth grader to read but can be enjoyed by adults, as well. It is about 300+ pages long, but I read it in an afternoon. I’d definitely recommend this for a young boy who enjoys reading. It lives up to the Dave Barry seal of approval, for sure.


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