Moon Over Manifest, the debut novel by Clare Vanderpool, just won the Newbery Medal. According to the website for Newbery, “[the medal] is awarded annually by the Association for Library Service to Children, a division of the American Library Association, to the author of the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children.”
From the description on Clare’s site about the book:
Eleven-year-old Abilene Tucker, the only daughter of a drifter, and therefore a drifter in her own right, has just arrived in Manifest, Kansas during the Depression while her father works a railroad job back in Iowa. Having heard her father, Gideon’s stories of the town in its 1918 hey-day, Abilene looks for the sign with big blue letters but finds the sign shot up so bad, all that was left read: “Manifest – A town with a past.” She is disappointed to find that Manifest is just dingy and dried up like most other towns. But her disappointment quickly turns to intrigue when she discovers a hidden cigar box that contains old letters, a collection of mementos, and mention of a spy known as The Rattler.
Abilene and her friends, Lettie and Ruthanne, embark on an honest to goodness spyhunt that ends up with someone leaving a note on their treehouse cautioning them to Leave Well Enough Alone. But Abilene sets caution aside when she ventures down the mysterious Path to Perdition and ends up at Miss Sadie’s Divining Parlor. Abilene isn’t sure if the Hungarian woman is really a diviner or just an old woman who tells stories of the past. But through Miss Sadie’s stories, Abilene searches for the boy her father once was and the meaning of home.
Clare is a mother of four children. The book took five years to write, and now she’s in the New York Times talking about it.
“Ms. Vanderpool, the Newbery winner, said she wrote “Moon Over Manifest” over five years, beginning in 2001, stealing bits of time while raising her four children.
“I would write during nap times, during ‘Sesame Street,’ that kind of stuff,” said Ms. Vanderpool, 46, by telephone from her home in Wichita, Kan., where she was born and reared. “It was just a nice little escape, a nice hobby. Then fortunately this year it got published.”
This particular Newbery winner means a lot to me because Clare is my friend.
I told Clare that I’d be cashing in all my “I knew her when” chips now! Here I was scanning the New York Times and saw that the Newbery Medal was out, and WHOP! I jumped up from the couch and said, “The NEWBERY! SHE WON THE NEWBERY!!”