Jack Henry has moved to the island of Barbados with his offbeat family and his secret diary. But still he can’t escape his penchant for wacky misadventure. Because of a headless chicken, he gets a violent case of blood poisoning. In a pepper-eating contest with his father, he discovers the perils of male bonding. And then he has his heartstrings twanged by an older woman who just happens to be his sister’s best friend.
These are just a few of his trials and tribulations in these eight fierce and funny stories, based on the author’s own childhood diaries.
Sign up to receive information about new books, author events, and special offers.
Read the full excerpt
“Extravagantly imaginative adventures . . . Combines side-splitting comedy with sweetly melancholic undertones.” —Publishers Weekly
“Sharp humor.” —Booklist
“Jack’s voice is completely original.” —Kirkus Reviews
“Jack Gantos has a way with boys, or a good memory for being one.” —The New York Times Book Review
Jack Gantos has written books for people of all ages, from picture books and middle-grade fiction to novels for young adults and adults. His works include Hole in My Life, a memoir that won the Michael L. Printz and Robert F. Sibert Honors, Joey Pigza Swallowed the Key, a National Book Award Finalist, Joey Pigza Loses Control, a Newbery Honor book, and Dead End in Norvelt, winner of the Newbery Medal and the Scott O’Dell Award for Historical Fiction.
Jack was born in Mount Pleasant, Pennsylvania, and when he was seven, his family moved to Barbados. He attended British schools, where there was much emphasis on reading and writing, and teachers made learning a lot of fun. When the family moved to south Florida, he found his new classmates uninterested in their studies, and his teachers spent most of their time disciplining students. Jack retreated to an abandoned bookmobile (three flat tires and empty of books) parked out behind the sandy ball field, and read for most of the day. The seeds for Jack’s writing career were planted in sixth grade, when he read his sister’s diary and decided he could write better than she could. He begged his mother for a diary and began to collect anecdotes he overheard at school, mostly from standing outside the teachers’ lounge and listening to their lunchtime conversations. Later, he incorporated many of these anecdotes into stories.
While in college, he and an illustrator friend, Nicole Rubel, began working on picture books. After a series of well-deserved rejections, they published their first book, Rotten Ralph, in 1976. It was a success and the beginning of Jack’s career as a professional writer. Jack continued to write children’s books and began to teach courses in children’s book writing and children’s literature. He developed the master’s degree program in children’s book writing at Emerson College and the Vermont College M.F.A. program for children’s book writers. He now devotes his time to writing books and educational speaking. He lives with his family in Boston, Massachusetts.
Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books Blue Ribbon Award, School Library Journal Best Books of the Year, NYPL Books for the Teen Age, NYPLC Children's Books 100
Lexile: 580LLF&P Level A-Z: W
Lexile: 580LAR Quiz Number: 83540AR Book Level: 5.2AR Points: 0.5