Allison's Book Bag

A Strong Sense of Place

Posted on: February 14, 2014

ClareVanderpoolAuthor Clare Vanderpool has a strong sense of place. Specifically, of Kansas, where Vanderpool grew up. To this day, Vanderpool can walk to her parents’ house, her sister’s house, the school she went to and where her kids go now, the pool, the sledding hill, and two bookstores! Not surprisingly, Vanderpool’s debut novel, Moon Over Manifest, which won the Newbery in 2012, is set in Kansas. I’ll review it here tomorrow. Save the date: February 15!

I had the pleasure of hearing Vanderpool speak at the 2012 Plum Creek Literacy Festival. There, Vanderpool shared that she had been raised in a Catholic school and, for an assignment, she once wrote that she wanted to be a nun because “it was fun”. Being good in creative writing assignments, Vanderpool also thought about being a writer. Besides liking to write, she read constantly—in lots of different places such as bathrooms, school, and church. Her family traveled a lot, meaning she’d been to every state by the time she turned twelve.

While Vanderpool does have a college degree in English and Elementary Education, she claims her best education has come from reading, listening to family stories, looking out the car window on road trips, pretending with her brother, and just plain using her imagination. As an adult, Vanderpool also joined writing clubs and organizations, which helped her study the writing craft.

Moon Over Manifest took Vanderpool six years to write. She believes five ingredients helped with the writing of it:

  • Memory: Moon Over Manifest is rooted in geography and a hodgepodge of memories
  • Research: Vanderpool gravitates towards historical novels and enjoys research as a hobby.
  • Inspiration: The book Island of Lost Maps by Miles Harvey is a true story of a man who visited libraries to see old maps and would then use a razor to cut them out. In the book is a quote from Moby Dick, which inspired Vanderpool to think about what are true places. She realized her home state is for her. From there grew idea of having a character explore what is a true place.
  • Luck: In her mom’s closet, Vanderpool found photos which served as models for some of her characters.
  • Imagination: To Vanderpool, this is the most important ingredient. It’s what drives the process or serves as the chicken broth to the stew.

Vanderpool is also a wife and mother. She likes to go to the pool with her family, invite a neighbor over for tea, open their house up to neighbor kids, and go out for dinner with her husband. She has a good life!


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I am focusing this year on other commitments. Once a month, I’ll post reviews of Advanced Reader Copies. Titles will include: Freddy Frogcaster and the Flash Flood by Janice Dean, One Two by Igor Eliseev, Incredible Magic of Being by Kathyrn Erskine, Dragon Grammar Book by Diane Robinson, and Wide as the Wind by Edward Stanton.



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