Writing Radar: Using Your Journal to Snoop Out and Craft Great Stories (Hardcover)
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.
About the Author
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, and Joey Pigza Loses Control, a Newbery Honor book. 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.
“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
"Gantos’s journey as a young writer learning his craft and the stories he actually wrote in middle school, all told with his characteristic humor, will appeal to fans of his novels whether or not they aspire to a writing career. Teachers will also find Gantos’s breakdown on the creation of a story valuable for teaching critical reading as well as writing skills." —VOYA, 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