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Moon Over Manifest by Clare Vanderpool

Teacher Guide by Bridget Baudinet

Find this Common Core aligned Teacher Guide and more like it in our Middle School ELA Category!

Student Activities for Moon Over Manifest Include:

Part mystery, part coming-of-age tale, Moon Over Manifest follows twelve-year-old Abilene Tucker as she tries to make sense of her father’s past and her own present. Left to stay in Manifest, Kansas with Pastor Shady Howard, Abilene feels abandoned by her father. Learning about his past helps her understand him better and ultimately reunite with him. Set in both 1917 and 1936, the novel provides rich historical context along with a heartwarming emphasis on the importance of family and community. Young readers will also be exposed to a mixture of text formats, as Vanderpool weaves her story through multiple narrators, flashbacks, letters, and newspaper articles.

By the end of this lesson your students will create amazing storyboards like the ones below!




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Parallel Stories

Moon Over Manifest makes heavy use of parallel stories. A parallel story is a narrative structure in which the writer includes two or more separate plots linked by a common character and/or theme. Moon Over Manifest begins with Abilene as the protagonist in 1936 Manifest. As she explores the town’s past, Miss Sadie recounts lengthy flashbacks detailing the lives of Jinx and Ned Gillen in 1917-18. In these stories, Jinx is the protagonist. As the novel progresses, the flashbacks grow increasingly central to the story’s main plot and pacing. In fact, comparatively little action takes place in 1936, as Abilene’s main adventures consist of digging up the past. The two stories eventually come together, reaching the climax at the same point and sharing a resolution. The 1918 plotline is not resolved until Jinx (Gideon) returns to Manifest in 1936.


Historical Background

A historical fiction novel, Moon Over Manifest contains references to events and realities from the early 1900s. Students may benefit from previewing some of the topics listed below before or during their reading of the novel.


  • The Great Depression
  • Prohibition, stills, and speakeasies
  • The Dust Bowl
  • The Spanish Flu
  • World War I
  • Immigration, xenophobia, and the KKK
  • Coal Mining in the midwest

Essential Questions for Moon Over Manifest

  1. What does it mean to be at home somewhere?
  2. To what extent do our pasts shape our present?
  3. Why do people tell stories? What kind of stories do you tell?
  4. How can hope or lack of hope change a person or a community?
  5. What effect do the parallel plots have on this story?

Moon Over Manifest Lesson Plans, Student Activities and Graphic Organizers

Moon Over Manifest Character Map

As students read, a storyboard can serve as a helpful character reference log. This log (also called a character map) allows students to recall relevant information about important characters. When reading a novel, small attributes and details frequently become important as the plot progresses. With character mapping, students will record this information, helping them follow along and catch the subtleties which make reading more enjoyable!


Moon Over Manifest Characters

  • Abilene Tucker
  • Shady
  • Miss Sadie
  • Lettie and Ruthanne
  • Sister Redempta
  • Gideon Tucker/Jinx
  • Ned Gillen
  • Arthur Devlin
  • Uncle Finn

Moon over Manifest Character Map
Create your own at Storyboard That ABILENE TUCKER JINX / GIDEON TUCKER LETTIE AND RUTHANNE MISS SADIE SHADY SISTER REDEMPTA NED GILLEN ARTHUR DEVLIN UNCLE FINN Year of story (1917, 1936, or both): Role in Manifest: Connection to Abilene’s time in Manifest: Connection to Gideon’s life: Year of story (1917, 1936, or both): Role in Manifest: Connection to Abilene’s time in Manifest: Connection to Gideon’s life: Year of story (1917, 1936, or both): Role in Manifest: Connection to Abilene’s time in Manifest: Connection to Gideon’s life: Year of story (1917, 1936, or both): Role in Manifest: Connection to Abilene’s time in Manifest: Connection to Gideon’s life: Year of story (1917, 1936, or both): Role in Manifest: Connection to Abilene’s time in Manifest: Connection to Gideon’s life: Year of story (1917, 1936, or both): Role in Manifest: Connection to Abilene’s time in Manifest: Connection to Gideon’s life: Year of story (1917, 1936, or both): Role in Manifest: Connection to Abilene’s time in Manifest: Connection to Gideon’s life: Both 1917 and 1936 • owner of an illegal speakeasy • substitute pastor • kind-hearted host for those in need Shady took in Gideon as a boy and helped him escape the police. Shady also takes in Abilene 18 years later. He helps her feel at home in Manifest. Years living in Manifest: Character traits: What challenges does this character face? How does living in Manifest change this character? Years living in Manifest: Character traits: What challenges does this character face? How does living in Manifest change this character?

Example

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Literary Conflict in Moon Over Manifest

Storyboarding is an excellent way to focus on types of literary conflicts.

Having students create storyboards that identify different types of conflict strengthens analytical thinking about literary concepts. Have your students find examples of various types of literary conflicts and bring them to life in a storyboard. In each storyboard, students should provide a depiction of the conflict, such as a scene demonstrating man vs. society. Below the scene, have students explain the conflict and why it falls into its category.


Examples of Literary Conflict in Moon Over Manifest

MAN vs. MAN

The mine owner, Arthur Devlin, creates a conflict for many of the townspeople of Manifest, including Ned Gillen. Devlin works the men too hard, pays them poorly, and feeds ethnic prejudices. He leaves the miners disheartened and desperate.


MAN vs. SELF

Gideon is in conflict with himself when he blames himself for the deaths of those he loves. He believes that his is a “jinx” and doubts his value to his friends and daughter.


MAN vs. NATURE

The Spanish Influenza that hits Manifest in 1918 is a conflict caused by nature. The humans do their best to fight the disease, but Manifest loses many of his residents to this deadly disease.


MAN vs. SOCIETY

Many of the immigrants in Manifest feel restricted by society’s prejudices. Miss Sadie, in particular, feels the weight of prejudice. Because she does not want to bring shame and rejection on her son as a poor Hungarian immigrant, she allows him to be raised by a stranger as she watches sadly from a distance. The locals spread rumors about her and leave her to live in isolation.


Moon over Manifest Literary Conflicts
Create your own at Storyboard That Character vs. Man Character vs. Self Character vs. Nature Character vs. Society The mine owner, Arthur Devlin, creates a conflict for many of the townspeople of Manifest, including Ned Gillen. Devlin works the men too hard, pays them poorly, and feeds ethnic prejudices. He leaves the miners disheartened and desperate. Gideon is in conflict with himself when he blames himself for the deaths of those he loves. He believes that he is a “jinx” and doubts his value to his friends and daughter. The Spanish Influenza that hits Manifest in 1918 is a conflict caused by nature. The humans do their best to fight the disease, but Manifest loses many of its residents to this deadly disease. Many of the immigrants in Manifest feel restricted by society’s prejudices. Miss Sadie feels the weight of prejudice. Because she does not want to bring shame and rejection on her son as a poor Hungarian immigrant, she allows him to be raised by a stranger as she watches sadly from a distance. The locals spread rumors about her and leave her to live in isolation.