This post is offered as a public service. If you have never heard Jack Gantos speak in person and you live anywhere near here, I would urge you, encourage you, exhort you to hie yourself to Hammond High School on Tuesday and enjoy.
From the Baltimore Sun:
Gantos to speak
Children's author Jack Gantos, creator of the Rotten Ralph books, a collaboration with illustrator Nicole Rubel, will speak at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at Hammond High School, 8800 Guilford Road. Gantos is known for the popular Joey Pigza books and his autobiography, Hole in My Life. Books will be available for purchase and signing. Seating is on a first-come, first-served basis. Registration is not required. The program is presented in partnership with Great Books, a consortium of Baltimore, Carroll, Harford and Howard county libraries.
I was lucky enough to host Gantos at my school (before he won the Newbery Honor for Joey Pigza Loses Control) for an entire day. One of my teachers actually fell (half way) off her chair because she was laughing so hard at his presentation. My principal used to ask me if we could have him return and I explained the deserved post-Joey three fold increase in his fee. She used to respond, without hesitation, "He is worth it."
It is my hope that he will record his Jack Henry books in audio book form sometime in the near future. Only he could do those books justice and if his publisher is smart they will start negotiations to accomplish this, (I was just explaining this to the very patient representative at the Farrar, Straus and Giroux booth at TLA who did tell me that there will be another Joey book this year, I Am Not Joey Pigza as Gantos realized Joey's relationship with his father was still unresolved.)
Those books were a restorative for our whole family as we learned to live with Type 1 diabetes years ago. This was before Lantus insulin had been invented and before the insulin pump became part of our family.
These macabre and insanely funny stories of his boyhood fit our mood perfectly and absolutely begged to be read aloud. You know when you are reading to yourself and find yourself compelled to shout to all in the vacinity "Oh my gosh, you have GOT to hear this," and you end up reading the entire book aloud and everyone is gasping for breath because they are laughing so hard? As I said, we were in a sort of dark place then.
Heads or Tails: Stories from the Sixth Grade, Jack's New Power: Stories from a Caribbean Year, Jack's Black Book: What Happens When You Flunk an IQ Test?, Jack on the Tracks: Four Seasons of Fifth Grade, and later, Jack Adrift: Fourth Grade Without a Clue will always have a special place in my heart.
If you live in Maryland and are in the area, I would encourage you to go hear the stories for yourself.
Downhomebooks.com Interview with Jack Gantos