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Tween Tuesday: Dead End In Norvelt by Jack Gantos

Tween Tuesday is a meme that highlights great reads for tweens. So join the fun and add your link below to discover a new middle grade read.

Rating: 4/5 Stars

Genre: Historical/Humor

Release Date: 9/13/2011

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Check out the audiobook narrated by the author!

About the Book: "That Gantos Boy" just can't seem to  keep out of trouble. After Jack gets grounded all summer, his only respite is to help Miss Volker write up obituaries for the local paper. But summer gets even more exciting when a visit from some Hells Angels, airplane rides, and a mysterious plague all add up into one crazy adventure.

GreenBeanTeenQueen Says: I finally read Dead End In Norvelt as part of my goal to read all the Award Winners. (The books won the Newbery medal in 2012). And honestly, a few weeks later, I'm still a bit unsure what exactly I thought of it.

While the book does have an overall narrative, it struck me more as vingettes throughout Jack's summer. The vingettes tied together but there were times I felt some storylines got dropped a bit because of this style. I wanted to know more about Bunny, more about the Hells Angels, and even more about the plague and mystery.

There is a bit of mystery to the story, but I wouldn't sell it that way. Mostly, it's a historical day-in-the-life sort of fiction with humor (and lots of nose bleeds) added in. And there were a lot of nose bleeds! Some readers I've talked to have had a problem with this part of the story, so I thought it would gross me out a bit, but I was actually OK. (I think if I would have listened to it on audio, it would have been to much, but reading it was OK). But I will say it did get a bit annoying at times though. Tweens that love a bit of gross-out will love it though! The book does have a lot of humor-the picture of old man Mr. Spizz chasing after a group of Hells Angels on his grown up sized tricycle had me laughing out loud!

I'm not sure if this will be a book that has tweens engaged. I kept wondering what tweens would really think of this one. I think there's enough humor to keep them engaged, but the story seems to wander a bit at times that I don't think I would hand it readers who aren't avid readers already. I also think it might work well as a read aloud in class where the students could also learn about Eleanor Roosevelt and the towns like Norvelt that were started to give Americans a start at the "American Dream." The book would tie in very nicely with a lot of history units for elementary and middle school students. I also have to admit that I felt the ending was rushed a bit and didn't wrap up enough for my liking and I wonder if tweens would feel the same way. If you work with that age group, you know how they like things wrapped up nicely!

Overall I enjoyed Dead End In Norvelt and I think it would be a great book to add to a collection-and I highly recommend it for teachers looking for a good historical fiction read. As for tweens, I think some will like it and those tweens that get caught up in the story are sure to enjoy Jack's adventures.

Book Pairings: Al Capone Does My Shirts by Gennifer Choldenko, Okay for Now by Gary Schmidt

Full Disclosure: Reviwed from an e-book copy I purchased


  1. Sounds like it might be a good pick for our 4th and 5th grade book club.

  2. I actually listened to this one in audio format and thought it was fantastic. The humor came across really well, so the gross-factor was somewhat mitigated. My review:

  3. If you like vignettes (even though they may not appeal to all tweens)try Cynthia Rylant's "A Blue-Eyed Daisy." :-)


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About Me

Hello! My name is Sarah and I am a Youth Services Manager who works with kids, tweens and teens. I love being asked about great books to read! I started my blog in 2008 as a way to keep track of what I've been reading and to use a reference tool for reader's advisory and it's grown into much more than I could have ever anticipated. In addition to book reviews, I also enjoy posting audiobook reviews, booklists and my adventures in being a librarian. 2017 Library Journal Mover and Shaker Committees: 2021 Newbery Committee 2018 Odyssey Committee 2016 Caldecott Award 2013 Michael L. Printz Committee- Fabulous Films Committee I have also served on the Cybils, Missouri State Library Association Readers Selection Lists, and as an Audies judge. Presentations :  I have offered various presentations at local, state and national libraries and conferences. Topics have included:  What's New in Children's & Teen Literature Engaging Teens in Reader's Advisory Gee