Moon over Frontenac
Award-winning children’s novel set in area town
Luke Pryor Collegio Reporter
Frontenac has been immortalized in fiction.
Manifest, Kan., the setting of Clare Vanderpool’s award-winning novel “Moon Over Manifest,” was modeled after Frontenac. The novel, Vanderpool’s first, won the 2011 Newberry Award and was first published in October 2010, by Random House.
Vanderpool says that although she considered other locations, she chose Frontenac because her grandparents live there. However, this was not the only deciding factor for Vanderpool. She says that the location fit well with the story, which tells the tale of a 12-year-old Abilene Tucker as she tries to adjust to living in a new town after a life on the road. “It’s her (Abilene’s) first experience of community and friendship, so I knew place would be very important in the story,” Vanderpool said. “I looked at my mom’s side of the family, they’re from the Frontenac area, and that kind of felt right.” Despite visiting the town as a girl, Vanderpool says she conducted a lot of research over the history of the Frontenac area, and the more she uncovered, the better the town fit into the story. She says that her research uncovered the diverse population of the area, as well as a history of mining and bootlegging operations. “All of those things just really worked together to create a very rich, layered story,” Vanderpool said. Isaac Cook, senior in recreation who graduated from Frontenac High School, says he found it neat to know a book was written about the town.
“It’s pretty interesting because there’s really no place that I know that’s like Frontenac, just the way it’s set up and the way people are,” Cook said. “It’s a crazy town, really.” Annie Brunetti, senior in business management who is also from Frontenac, says she is glad Frontenac was used as the setting for Vanderpool’s novel, especially in such a positive light. “I think that it’s pretty cool,” Brunetti said. “It’s a small town that most people take for granted, but I enjoyed growing up there, and it’s probably a way for people to see what it’s all about.”
Brunetti says that she thinks the book can have a positive impact on the town. “I think it could benefit the town … because it will get the word out there about it,” Brunetti said. “When people think of Frontenac, it’s automatically linked to Pittsburg so it will give it some individuality.” Vanderpool says that she really tried to capture the spirit as well as the people of the town through the characters and description throughout the novel.
“My experience of the people I knew from that area – they were just wonderful, good, hard-working, honest people,” Vanderpool said. “That’s the way I portrayed them in the book.”