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Moon Over Manifest

Moon Over Manifest


by Clare Vanderpool

Moon Over Manifest Chapter 1 Summary

Chapter 1

Santa Fe Railway, Southeast Kansas, May 27, 1936

  • Trains make Abilene Tucker sleepy.
  • No, she doesn't have some strange train-related narcolepsy—she's just falling asleep on a train.
  • Or maybe she's just daydreaming. She starts thinking about a town called Manifest, and the awesome stories her daddy, Gideon, used to tell her about living there.
  • Why the "used to?" Well, he's sent her away to Manifest for the summer on her own.
  • Wait, why would this guy send a 12-year-old girl away by herself? Well, apparently, she cut her knee a while back, and it got infected—she almost didn't make it. (Yikes. Thank goodness for modern medicine, right?)
  • So he didn't want her coming along to a rough-and-tumble summertime railroad job he got.
  • And don't worry. Someone will be there in Manifest to pick her up: Pastor Shady Howard.
  • Abilene's got a cool old compass with her. It's broken, but it was her daddy's, so she really treasures it. She's got it all wrapped up in a box lined with an old newspaper from Manifest, which she likes to take out and read sometimes, searching for anything about Gideon.
  • The train conductor announces the Manifest stop, but instead of waiting till they reach the station, Abilene just jumps off while it's still moving.
  • Wait—what? A 12-year-old girl in 1936 just jumped off a moving train by herself?
  • Yup. This girl's definitely has some spunk. She wants to be able to take her time walking into town, so she can check out the place a little.
  • She's obviously done this before. She lands safely, right in front of a sign welcoming visitors to Manifest.


  • Whoa, what's happening?
  • This is one of those primary sources we warned you about in our "In A Nutshell."
  • At the end of most chapters, there's an old-timey newspaper article or a letter from someone—or both.
  • So whenever that happens, we'll let you know what kind of source it is, and what it's all about. Okay? Okay. You're welcome.
  • This particular one is the very first article written by a gal named Hattie Mae for the Manifest Herald.
  • And it turns out, it's from the same edition that Abilene has wrapped around her daddy's compass.
  • Hattie Mae has just graduated from high school, and her uncle has gotten her this job writing a regular column for the paper.
  • Oh yeah—and there's usually an old-fashioned ad for some kooky old medicine under her column, too.
  • This time it's for Billy Bump's Hair Tonic—it'll grow hair back or remove the gray. Pretty impressive, huh? (It won't work. Believe us.)

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