Monday, April 30, 2012

Jack Gantos - A New Favorite

So I may be a bit late to the party...but I never read anything by Jack Gantos before. Not his popular Rotten Ralph picture books, not his Jack Henry series, not even his Joey Pigza series. Somehow, this award winning author was never on my radar. However, after reading Dead End in Norvelt, Jack Gantos is a new favorite. Even if you don't often read children's books, I urge you to pick up a copy of this one. Read it or listen to the audiobook, read by the author himself. Either way, the voice of 12 year old Jack Gantos will stay with you long after you finish.

The town of Norvelt, Pennslyvania doesn't offer much excitement for Jack Gantos in the summer of 1962. The school holidays look bleak when Jack is grounded for accidently shooting off his father's WWII rifle. The only way Jack can escape the house is by helping his arthritic elderly neighbor, Miss Volker. What follows is a hilarious mix of mysterious events, hijinks and small town zaniness.
After finishing Dead End in Norvelt, I was delighted to hear Jack Gantos interviewed on an episode of the radio quiz show, Wait Wait Don't Tell Me. Gantos revealed bits of his checkered past - mistakes made in his youth landed him in a federal peniteniary. In his memoir, Hole in my Life, Gantos writes about this brief but formative period. Luckily, Gantos was able to secure his release from prison by applying to college in order to pursue a career in writing. Gantos spoke at the 2012 Tucson Festival of Books and he did not disappoint. Currently, I'm reading The Love Curse of the Rumbaughs, a surreal tale of love and taxidermy.

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