“From Norvelt to Nowhere” by Jack Gantos

This sequel to Jack Gantos’ Newbery Award winning novel Dead End in Norvelt picks up where the previous novel ended.

When another old woman dies in Norvelt, Miss Volker is convinced it’s the work of Mr. Spizz who had recently returned to Norvelt. Young Jack is assigned to accompany Miss Volker to Florida for the funeral of her recently deceased sister. Little does Jack know that he’s in for the road trip of his life as he and Miss Volker chase down Mr. Spizz only to find someone else chasing them!

This was a solid follow-up to the first Norvelt book. Particularly enjoyable were the references to different pieces of history throughout the story as well as an ode to Moby Dick. However, Miss Volker I’ll honestly say was beginning to annoy me by the end of this book; maybe there is a limit to how much crotchety old lady I can take.

Though the open road is great, I missed Norvelt in this sequel. I missed Jack’s mom and oft-missing father. I missed Bunny. Those were what made the first book spectacular. It’s hard to duplicate a Newbery winner, actually near impossible. Gantos fans will be pleased, all others would give this one a passing grade.

–Keith Klang
Port Washington Public Library

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