"Dead End in Norvelt"
By Jack Gantos
Farrar Straus Giroux, $15.99, ages 9-12
Twelve-year-old "Jack Gantos," (part autobiographical, part fictional) is grounded. Jack gets in trouble easily, and his chronic nosebleeds mark the spot(s). His hometown, Norvelt, Pa., was federally founded in the '30s to help unemployed coal-miners; in 1962, it is dying off. He loves to read the discarded elementary-school history books his ever-frugal mother brought home, but Pizarro, Julius Caesar and Custer don't suggest any easy way to leave Norvelt. Jack's summer grounding is lifted only to help an elderly neighbor, Miss Volker, whose arthritic hands prevent her typing up local obituaries. Add in bomb shelters, fear of "Commies," Hells Angels and a best friend who's the undertaker's daughter. Yes, eclectic, but Jack likes "history and adventure," and most readers will follow him happily.Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times