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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: jack gantos, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 1 - 6 of 6
1. Over the rivers and through the woods...

As the holiday season approaches many folks will be traveling.
I've been helping teachers, parents and kids find audio books "for the road" recently.

As a public service, it has occurred to me that we might compile some suggestions for good listens in the car or on planes or trains.
Personally, I have found audio books very motivating to get me out walking more frequently.

I like a narrator whose performance or personae does not get in the way of the story. I found Brendan Fraser's narration of Cornelia Funke's Dragon Rider almost too distracting at first because I kept hearing "Brendan Fraser" instead of the story. I knew Funke had envisioned him as Mo in Inkheart so I was interested to see if he could really bring the story to life. I did enjoy the book after a while but felt he was pushing a bit hard on the character's voices. I have not heard any of his subsequent reads. I imagine there is a learning curve.


Jim Dale's sublime readings of JKRowling's Harry Potter books are the gold standard of audiobook-dom. Yes, I've read them but I found listening to them has highlighted new details and brought the books to life in a whole new way. Dale's performance sets the bar for charicterization and originality.


Anything read by Allan Corduner.
Corduner read Book one of Septimus Heap series, Magyk with such style and aplomb that I rushed to get the next book in audio form. I was disappointed to discover that Corduner did not read the other books in the series and I could not settle in to the second book at all until some time had passed.

I had been planning to read The Keys to the Kingdom series by Garth Nix so when I saw Corduner read them I was thrilled. Mister Monday was excellent. I have book 2 on the old mp3 player now.


The Joey Pigza books by Jack Gantos, read by the author are hilarious, poignant, touching, scream-out-loud funny. I hope you saw 7 Imp's excellent interview with Gantos during the Winter Blog Blast Tour.

I do not think anybody else but Gantos can read his books. I have still been unable to listen to Love Curse of the Rumbaughs because he did not read it. I think I recall the rep at FSG telling me that he had not initially wanted to let another person narrate. They should have listened to him.


Sometimes I just know that I will never get around to reading a book. Carl Hiassen's Hoot was on my "want to read" list but it just never seemed to make it to the top of the pile. I was very happy to find the audiobook and Chad Lowe does an outstanding job of bringing the story to life.

More to come... I'd like your suggestions too.


Additional audiobooks:

Ninjas, Piranhas, and Galileo by Greg Leitich Smith is an excellent audiobook. The narrators who read Elias, Shohei and Honoria are spot on. Their performances are so good but Recorded Books DOES NOT CREDIT THEM by name anywhere on the jacket or box. Unbelievable.

6 Comments on Over the rivers and through the woods..., last added: 11/20/2007
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2. I Am Not Joey Pigza

I am Not Joey Pigza by Jack Gantos, 2007

I listened to the audio version of this new Joey book because there is just NOTHING BETTER than hearing these stories in Gantos's own voice. When I listened to What Would Joey Do?, tears poured down my face as I watched Joey care for his grandmother after she died. Gantos's tender and heartfelt reading of that scene still echoes in my heart.

I think the absence of his voice that is the reason I have not been able to get through my audio book of The Love Curse of the Rumbaughs--as anxious as I was to experience this macabre tale of taxidermy. Lisa Datz ably reads the story but I have found myself unable to get very far in it because I just can't take those "Gantos" moments without him. I will probably end up reading it because then I can supply his intonation in my imagination.

To have a new book appear in a series that we thought was at an end, is a treat. In this book Joey's "thought he was gone for good" father, Carter Pigza, has returned to pick up the reins of family-hood again. He has money because he won the lottery so the family is well off for the first time in their lives. Alas, we know these characters and we know they will not be able to handle it. In one of the most howling-ly funny wedding ceremonies ever, his parents remarry and in honor of their renewal as a family, they change their names to become new people. Carter has adopted Heinz ("You know, Heinz, like the catsup.") as a new surname and he wants Joey to change his identity to become Freddy Heinz. Of course being the Pigzas, they are not actually going through the legal system to do this which sets up a whole new set of problems.

Joey's sense of self will not disappear without a fight though and he is buffeted between wanting to please his parents and his desire and need to hold on to his real identity. And Joey needs to hold on to something as his parents become obsessed with their own lives. His mother's new hobby is spending money and his dad spends his days looking for portents and signs to guide him in picking new lottery numbers.

The writing pulls you into side-splitting laughter and then deep emotional empathy for Joey. There are also more of those signature moments that leave the reader shrieking. Joey's idea of recreating a ride over Niagara Falls using a refrigerator box and the porch roof is a scene that will have readers and listeners covering their eyes. His visit to his grandmother's resting place in St. Mary's Cemetery is at once dear and strange. He has collected cigarette butts to sprinkle over her grave because she loved smoking so much and brought along a can of silver spray paint. After his beautification efforts, his moving talk with her sent me in search of tissues.

I have always loved Joey as a character. Despite his ricocheting attention span and crazy impulses, he is always trying. He understands better than his parents that you have to know and like yourself before you can change for the better and you cannot do it for someone else. He is full of love for his mother, his granny and his dogs and he wants to forgive and love his dad.

The Joey Pigza books are classics. Joey is a character for the ages. We cheer for him because he is just a wonderful kid.

Must Reads:
Jules at 7 Imp has written a most-excellent review of this book.

0 Comments on I Am Not Joey Pigza as of 9/20/2007 7:35:00 AM
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3. Princeton Children's Book Festival

Prizes and books and swag, oh my! Come hear myself and thirty other children's book authors and illustrators read at the Princeton Children's Book Festival this Saturday. A sneak peek of TRIBE will be available, as will the chance to meet and schmooze with brother Dave.


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4. Tell an Author You Care Day

I am a day late on this one but what a fantastic idea Emily at whimsy had.

In honor of Tell an Author You Care Day, Book Moot bows to:

Rockstar Rick Riordan -- He really is a rock star. Young men, who I worried would NEVER read for pleasure, have discovered what it is all about thanks to him. Reading the first chapter of The Lightning Thief has also provided me with some of my most meaningful and happy experiences as a librarian.

I also have to thank Gail Gauthier for Happy Kid and the most hilarious reading-aloud my daughter has ever entertained me with while I was driving a car. Also her heroine, Thérèse, from The Hero of Ticonderoga is a character I would like to hug.

Jack Gantos will always have my heart for getting this family through a very emotional time. I wish he still wrote an update to his website. Even once a year, he always made me laugh.

Jennifer Holm and Matt Holm are so gracious to kidlitosperians and have created the most imaginative young mouse in the world. I may have mentioned that I named my IPod, Babymouse?

Audrey Couloumbis has completely won me over with her books about two sisters on the run in the wild west. I find myself asking friends and relations and strangers in dentist office waiting rooms, have you read The Misadventures of Maude March yet?

Thank you, all!

1 Comments on Tell an Author You Care Day, last added: 7/18/2007
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5. Author: Jack Gantos

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 Looses 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

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6. "...all these books that were for me..."

If you write for young people, consider this LJ post a big, fat thank you note (virtual chocolates and ice cream, too). I just finished reading my 7th graders' final exams. I ask them to write an essay reflecting on how they've grown as readers, writers, and human beings this year. Here's a quote from K...

"In the beginning of the year, I didn't like to read at all. But then my teacher showed me all these books that were for me, and I couldn't stop reading."

Books that were for her.  Written just for her.  Or at least it felt that way.  She went on to talk about Sonya Sones, Sarah Dessen, Deb Caletti, and Nancy Werlin -- voices that spoke to her over the past ten months. 

And K wasn't the only one who named names as she reflected on books that made a difference this year.  My kids talked about finding themselves in the characters of Pete Hautman, Janet Tashjian, Jack Gantos, Laurie Halse Anderson, Lisa Yee, Sharon Creech, Jerry Spinelli, Wendelin Van Draanen, David Lubar, Cynthia Kadohata, Mal Peet, and Walter Dean Myers.  They wrote about being challenged by M.T. Anderson, Richard Preston, and Markus Zusak.  They wrote fondly about escaping into the worlds of Margaret Peterson Haddix, Christopher Paolini, and JK Rowling.  And they reflected on walking a mile in someone else's shoes as they read Gene Luen Yang, Cynthia Lord, Will Hobbs, Jennifer Roy, and Joseph Bruchac.

I write for kids.  I know that some days, it feels like you're alone with your computer, and even your computer doesn't  like you very much. So I thought I'd share K's reflection on her year of reading.  We all need to realize when we write, we're writing for someone important.  Someone like K, who's waiting for a book that's just for her, just for him.  

If you write for kids, that's the work you're doing every day.  You may never get to read the end-of-the-year essays, but you should know that you make a difference, and you're appreciated.

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