Macmillan Childrens Publishing Group
Writing Radar

Writing Radar

Using Your Journal to Snoop Out and Craft Great Stories

Jack Gantos

Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)




The Newbery Award–winning author of Dead End in Norvelt shares advice for how to be the best brilliant writer in this funny and practical creative writing guide perfect for all kids who dream of seeing their name on the spine of a book.

With the signature wit and humor that have garnered him legions of fans, Jack Gantos instructs young writers on using their "writing radar" to unearth story ideas from their everyday lives. Incorporating his own misadventures as a developing writer, Gantos inspires readers to build confidence and establish good writing habits as they create, revise, and perfect their stories. Pop-out text boxes highlight key tips, alongside Gantos's own illustrations, sample stories, and snippets from his childhood journals. More than just a how-to guide, Writing Radar is a celebration of the power of storytelling and an ode to the characters who—many unwittingly—inspired Gantos's own writing career.

Evanston IL Public Library Best Books of the Year, CPL: Chicago Public Library Best of the Best



Trust Me

I’m a writer and I’m on your side.

There comes a time when every good reader decides they want to write a book, so I’m writing this book just for you. You have chosen to read this book because you want...


Praise for Writing Radar

“Never less than entertaining and sometimes laugh-out-loud funny, [this is] a focused, fun, and uncommonly useful guide for young, aspiring writers.” —Booklist, starred review

“An excellent guide for aspiring authors . . . And while the book is directed at serious writers in the making, there's enough exaggeration and grossness to keep readers laughing.” —Publishers Weekly, starred review

“A must for aspiring writers.” —School Library Journal, starred review

“A standout among writing guides, valuable for its sage and friendly encouragement and for the sheer fun of hanging out with Jack.” —Kirkus Reviews

“With humor and swift pacing, the author of the “Joey Pigza” books and “Dead End in Norvelt” spills all of his writing secrets about making stories out of everyday life. [Writing Radar] will probably make you want to read Gantos’s stories as well as to create your own.” —Washington Post

“Oh man! Do NOT read this book. Unless you want to become a real writer. Gantos has given up almost every hard-earned writing secret in his trademark sharp, funny, crazy, and brilliant way.” —Jon Scieszka, Inaugural National Ambassador for Young People's Literature

“When I was a kid, Jack Gantos visited my classroom and gave me encouragement that I'll never forget. Now, with this book, young writers everywhere will be able to learn from this master storyteller. What a gift Mr. Gantos has given to the world by taking us through his creative process.” —Jarrett J. Krosoczka, New York Times–bestselling author/illustrator of the Lunch Lady series

“This is my Book of the Year. I can't think of one I’d rather put into kids’ hands. It is laugh-out-loud funny, poignant in spots, and it will teach young people how and why to write. It will be a life-changer for kids and for those of us who teach them.” —Lucy Calkins, Director of the Reading and Writing Project, Teachers College, Columbia University

Praise for Jack Gantos's writing workshops:

“Fostered a love of reading and writing. Sparked the thought 'I can do this too!’ for some of my struggling students. Went straight to the store to get a journal and pen after hearing Jack Gantos!”

“NEVER laughed so hard in my life!!”

“Jack Gantos was amazing—I did not plan on [attending his presentation] at first but am glad I did! I ended up at all three! I enjoyed his mix of enjoying the literature with how I can encourage writers in my classroom in practical ways!”

Reviews from Goodreads

About the author

Jack Gantos

Jack Gantos has written books for people of all ages. His works include Hole in My Life, a Michael L. Printz Honor memoir, Joey Pigza Swallowed the Key, a National Book Award Finalist, and Dead End in Norvelt, a Newbery Award winner. 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 began to collect anecdotes he overheard, mostly from eavesdropping outside the teachers’ lounge, and later included many of these anecdotes in his books. He now devotes his time to writing books and educational speaking. He lives with his family in Boston, Massachusetts.

Jack Gantos

From the Publisher

Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)

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