Jack Gantos in the middle school library

Visting author Jack Gantos inspires young writers

Jack Gantos was our author-in-residence for a week in March, working with students at the Early Learning Center, Elementary School and Middle School. He certainly inspired some budding writers—we needed to split this article between five excellent grade 8 reporters!

Jack Gantos in the middle school library

Jack Gantos in the middle school library

Billy Fujii:
I have read Joey Pigza Swallowed the Key. I like how Jack Gantos’s books have unique characters and experiences that really engage the readers in the book. Jack Gantos has an amazing skill to make stories sound funny, and compel readers as well as listeners. When meeting him at ASIJ, Jack Gantos taught me the significance of writing in first person. He told me that writing in first person really draws out the character’s emotions, and brings the character to life. He also told me that writing from personal experiences really makes a good story.

Amanda LaBarge:
I have read Dead End in Norvelt. It was a fun book that you can relate to about a child just trying to have a fun summer. It pulls you in and takes you through the main character’s wacky experiences. When we met with Jack Gantos, it was a fun and relaxed meeting. We asked him questions about his books and how to publish books and had a very enjoyable time. You could tell he is really into what he does and wants to share the joys of it with others.

Alicia Mies:

Joey Pigza Swallowed the Key and Joey Pigza Loses Control were my favorite books as a fifth grader! I enjoyed them, because Gantos masterfully makes the reader feel and sympathize with Joey. He’s such a lovable, smart, and caring kid that I couldn’t help but put myself in his shoes. My favorite line in the book however is, “When you think of anything bad, you quick have to think of something good. And you can never, never think of three things bad in a row or else you will feel just awful.” I just loved that. It was really a wonderful experience meeting him. He’s such an interesting person and just by speaking to him, it’s easy to tell that he has lead a fulfilling life. He definitely gave great advice about his writing process, researching, and his favorite literature. I even asked him what his all-time favorite book was (It was Moby Dick). It was a real pleasure to meet him and he really inspired me to write!

Allie Rogers:
I read Jack’s Black Book, Jack on the Tracks and Dead End in Norvelt. I liked how relatable they were to me, I could identify easily with the characters. He also incorporates so much humor and makes the novels very interesting to read. When he came to ASIJ he gave great advice and I learned a lot.

Beth Webb:
I read Dead End in Norvelt, and I loved how it was in the point of view of the author, and it was based on his childhood stories. It was great to meet him. I think he gave me some great advice about how to keep readers interested in your stories.