Boy did I feel out of the loop when my son got me this book as a birthday present.  He got me the book because he knows about my goal to read all of the Newberry Medal books.(He's a sweet kid that actually pays attention to his mother sometimes!)

Really--- it's embarrasing to call myself a writer with a goal of reading all the Newberry Medal books when I didn't even know that the 2011 winner was a book that takes place in the town of Norvelt, PA..... a town only 15 miles from where I grew up!!!  How did I miss that?!

Wow.... I've really been WAY out of touch.... glad to be back!

So I was thrilled to have a winner in my hands and started reading it almost immediately - among the other books on writing  my husband had gotten me! I discovered that Jack Gantos, the author, grew up in Norvelt.  (He apparently decided to be a writer when he was in 6th grade - he read his sister's diary and decided he was a better writer than she was!  LOL!)

Dead End in Norvelt is a humorous historical fiction book with a bit of mystery thrown in!  It was a pretty cool combination.  I had never read a humorous historical fiction book before....are there more out there??  It is packed full of really interesting historical facts about the area and other parts of the world. The main character is named Jack Gantos! Gee...I wonder what sparked that idea?  There are actually photos in the back of the book of the author at age 11, the house he grew up in and other places mentioned in the book.

The story begins with a chan of events that ends up getting young Jack Gantos "grounded for life" - or at least what's supposed to be his whole summer!  It gets even more interesting when he starts working for the elderly neighbor lady writing obituary columns for the other elderly people of Norvelt....  I'll let you go get the book and take it from there.

It really is well done.  I bought the book for my Godson as a Christmas present and am encouraging my own son to add it to his To Read list....


I think the most important aspect of education is quality books.  And by quality books, I mean LIVING BOOKS.  So...what is a 'living book'?

                Thank goodness I was never sent to school...Beatrix Potter quote at DailyLearners.com

Living books are those books which make the subject 'come alive'.  They are generally written by one person, versus a textbook written by several authors.  The book reaches out and pulls you in.  It's a book that makes you feel that you are there with the characters.  They are generally written in a narrative style rather than a dry style of writing typically found in most textbooks which usually only present facts in a summary type form. With the right sources, you can find living books that cover most school subjects  -  even math!!

In our homeschooling years, I have tried to use Living Books whenever possible.  Now that I am researching the Charlotte Mason method to use with my toddler, I have found a plethora of sources and would like to share them with you!

Source List for Living Books:

All Through The Ages

The Ambleside Online Curriculum

Beautiful Feet

Books of Wonder

CM Bookfinder

Five In A Row

Greenleaf Press

A Literary Education

Honey For A Child's Heart

Living Books Curriculum

Newberry Medal and Honor Books


Charlotte Mason teaches that you are to select books that will cultivate your child's taste for good literature and words fitly spoken.  A quality book will cultivate imagination and nourish their mind. Charlotte Mason homeschoolers do not usually spend their time using books consisting of 'twaddle'(nonsense or 'dumbed-down' literature).  I don't,however, think an occasional book that is not categorized under high quality literature is a waste.  As long as it isn't the only type of book your child will read, it's not against your morals or values, and it leads your child to reading, then it is a book worth it's price!  Happy Reading!