Book details

Macmillan Children's Book

Dead End in Norvelt

Norvelt Series (Volume 1)

Dead End in Norvelt

Dead End in Norvelt


About This Book

Dead End in Norvelt is the winner of the 2012 Newbery Medal for the year's best contribution to children's literature and the Scott O'Dell Award for Historical Fiction!

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Book Details

Dead End in Norvelt is the winner of the 2012 Newbery Medal for the year's best contribution to children's literature and the Scott O'Dell Award for Historical Fiction!

Melding the entirely true and the wildly fictional, Dead End in Norvelt is a novel about an incredible two months for a kid named Jack Gantos, whose plans for vacation excitement are shot down when he is "grounded for life" by his feuding parents, and whose nose spews bad blood at every little shock he gets. But plenty of excitement (and shocks) are coming Jack's way once his mom loans him out to help a fiesty old neighbor with a most unusual chore—typewriting obituaries filled with stories about the people who founded his utopian town. As one obituary leads to another, Jack is launched on a strange adventure involving molten wax, Eleanor Roosevelt, twisted promises, a homemade airplane, Girl Scout cookies, a man on a trike, a dancing plague, voices from the past, Hells Angels . . . and possibly murder.

Endlessly surprising, this sly, sharp-edged narrative is the author at his very best, making readers laugh out loud at the most unexpected things in a dead-funny depiction of growing up in a slightly off-kilter place where the past is present, the present is confusing, and the future is completely up in the air.

Imprint Publisher

Macmillan Young Listeners



Reading Guide

In The News

“Gantos captures the voice of a middle-school boy in a relatable way, with plenty of self-consciousness and humor, and he infuses the storyline with a sense of mystery, danger, and adventure…This is an engaging story that makes for compelling listening.” —Parents Choice Gold Award

“The audiobook was just for fun, since Jack narrated it himself and I'd listen to him read a grocery list, his delivery is that funny.” —Horn Book Magazine

“Gantos narrates this laugh-out-loud semi-autobiographical tale, providing a pitch-perfect rendition of Jack's sarcasm, exaggeration, and whining.” —School Library Journal

“Listening to [Jack Gantos] – both his voice and the crazy tales he tells – reminds me a bit of David Sedaris. Fans of his work will likely enjoy this as well. The attitude is the same, too. He doesn't judge, he just tells it as he sees it. The dialogue and the first person reflections make audio an ideal way to experience it.” —5 Minutes for Books

“Looking for a great audiobook for boys? This is it. Further blurring the line between fact and fiction in this autobiographical novel, author Jack Gantos narrates himself, sharing the 1962 summer adventures of his eponymous hero as he navigates adolescence and a dying town caught between two eras…The story is a little odd and a lot funny. Gantos's delivery is dry and wry, and even when characters don't get distinctive voices, the action and emotion are utterly clear. A gem.” —AudioFile Magazine

“It is hard to imagine anyone other than Jack Gantos reading Dead End in Norvelt. Like most of his books, this is slightly autobiographical (Gantos was born in Norvelt but did not grow up there). Listeners really hear the intended inflections and accents as well as the energy and emotion found in the story.” —Library Media Connection

“Dead End in Norvelt, this year's Newberry winner for best young adult fiction, is even more hilarious in audio form as read by author Jack Gantos. My family howled out loud as we listened to it during a spring break drive to California.” —The Bellingham Herald

“This is a brilliant book, full of history, mystery, and laughs. It reminded me of my small-town childhood, although my small town was never as delightfully weird as Norvelt.” —Dave Barry

“A bit of autobiography works its way into all of Gantos's work, but he one-ups himself in this wildly entertaining meld of truth and fiction by naming the main character . . . Jackie Gantos.” —Publishers Weekly, starred review

“A fast-paced and witty read.” —School Library Journal

“A more quietly (but still absurdly) funny and insightful account of a kid's growth, kin to Gantos's Jack stories, that will stealthily hook even resistant readers into the lure of history.” — Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books (BCCB)

“This winning novel, both humorous and heartwarming, takes place during the summer of 1962, when narrator Jack Gantos turns 12 and spends most of his days grounded. Jack's main ‘get out of jail free card,' and one of the novel's most charming characters, is Miss Volker. The blossoming of their friendship coincides with the blooming of Jack's character.” —Shelf Awareness Pro

“There's more than laugh-out-loud gothic comedy here. This is a richly layered semi-autobiographical tale, an ode to a time and place, to history and the power of reading.” —The Horn Book, starred review

“Gantos, as always, delivers bushels of food for thought and plenty of outright guffaws.” —Booklist

“An exhilarating summer marked by death, gore and fire sparks deep thoughts in a small-town lad not uncoincidentally named ‘Jack Gantos.' The gore is all Jack's, which to his continuing embarrassment ‘would spray out of my nose holes like dragon flames' whenever anything exciting or upsetting happens. And that would be on every other page, seemingly . . . Characteristically provocative gothic comedy, with sublime undertones.” —Kirkus Reviews, starred review

“Nobody can tell a story like Jack Gantos can. And this is a story like no other. It's funny. It's thoughtful. It's history. It's weird. But you don't need me to attempt to describe it. Get in there and start reading Gantos.” —Jon Scieszka, founder of and author of the Spaceheadz series

“The Newbury Medal-winning book has all the ingredients for a great audiobook – a strong narrative voice, a blend of humor and pathos, and a performer who has unique authority: it all happened to him, with some subtle fictionalizations.” —Book Links

About the Creators

Dead End in Norvelt

Dead End in Norvelt


Dead End in Norvelt
Dead End in Norvelt