Books by Jack Gantos

THE KEY THAT SWALLOWED JOEY PIGZA by Jack Gantos
CHILDREN'S AND TEEN
Released: Sept. 2, 2014

"Dark, funny and pawzzz-i-tively brilliant. (Fiction. 10-13)"
Joey takes on his toughest set of challenges yet in this heart-rending, triumphant series finale. Read full book review >
ROTTEN RALPH'S ROTTEN FAMILY by Jack Gantos
CHILDREN'S AND TEEN
Released: March 11, 2014

"Rot on, Ralph! (Early reader. 6-8)"
Just how did Rotten Ralph get so rotten? Read full book review >
FROM NORVELT TO NOWHERE by Jack Gantos
Released: Sept. 24, 2013

"Dollops of history and mystery, plus gross to wickedly barbed comical set pieces set in a talky, ambling, amiable odyssey. (Historical fiction. 11-13)"
The chase after a serial killer sparks an eventful, if not particularly life-changing, road trip in this sequel to the Newbery-winning Dead End in Norvelt (2011). Read full book review >
DEAD END IN NORVELT by Jack Gantos
Released: Sept. 13, 2011

"Characteristically provocative gothic comedy, with sublime undertones. (Autobiographical fiction. 11-13)"
An exhilarating summer marked by death, gore and fire sparks deep thoughts in a small-town lad not uncoincidentally named "Jack Gantos." Read full book review >
THREE STRIKES FOR ROTTEN RALPH by Jack Gantos
ANIMALS
Released: Feb. 15, 2011

"Ralph's only redeeming quality is his love for Sarah, but his irrepressible rottenness will delight newly independent readers. (Early reader. 6-8)"
Has Ralph learned nothing in more than 30 years of misadventures and misbehavior? Read full book review >
THE NINE LIVES OF ROTTEN RALPH by Jack Gantos
ANIMALS
Released: May 4, 2009

"His resolve to live his last life as vigorously as his first eight may inspire adult readers more than children, but there's nothing wrong with that. (Picture book. 6-8)"
The bright red feline counter-Clifford faces his greatest challenge yet when the vet announces that he's gone through eight of his allotted lives. Read full book review >
I AM NOT JOEY PIGZA by Jack Gantos
Released: Aug. 7, 2007

"This is Gantos at his best, and that's saying a lot. (Fiction. 10+)"
Joey's father, Carter Pigza, is back in Joey's life. Read full book review >
LOVE CURSE OF THE RUMBAUGHS by Jack Gantos
FAMILY AND GROWING UP
Released: May 1, 2006

"A good match with M.T. Anderson's Feed (2002) and Nancy Farmer's The House of the Scorpion (2002). (Fiction. YA)"
What happens when you die? Read full book review >
JACK ADRIFT by Jack Gantos
FAMILY AND GROWING UP
Released: Aug. 8, 2003

"By the end, the family is about to head back over the Outer Banks in high spirits, having found a silver lining in all of the insanity. (Short stories. 8-12)"
When his father enlists in the Navy Seabees, Jack Henry is off to Cape Hatteras for his fourth-grade year. Read full book review >
WHAT WOULD JOEY DO? by Jack Gantos
Released: Oct. 21, 2002

"A must read. (Fiction. 10+)"
Clad in black leather, Carter Pigza motorcycles into town like some mad vampire on the loose, with Mrs. Pigza chasing after him with a broom, looking like a witch about to take flight. Read full book review >
HOLE IN MY LIFE by Jack Gantos
BIOGRAPHY
Released: March 26, 2002

"Not the usual 'How I Became A Writer' treatise, it is an honest, utterly compelling, and life-affirming chronicle of a personal journey for older teens and adults. (Nonfiction. YA)"
"We didn't so much arrive at our destinations as aim and crash into them like kamikaze yachtsmen." Read full book review >
PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT FOR ROTTEN RALPH by Jack Gantos
ANIMALS
Released: March 20, 2002

"And of course, he'll be back for more of these delightful readers—because practice makes perfect. (Easy reader. 5-8)"
Gantos brings back that rascally red Rotten Ralph for the second entry in the Rotten Ralph Rotten Readers series (Rotten Ralph Helps Out, 2001). Read full book review >
ROTTEN RALPH HELPS OUT by Jack Gantos
ANIMALS
Released: Aug. 7, 2001

"Although this will function well as an amusing and educational easy reader, it contains enough facts and illustrations about ancient Egypt to serve as the corner stone for a classroom thematic unit—all that and rascally red Rotten Ralph, too. (Easy reader. 6-8)"
Rotten Ralph's bouncy, semi-bad behavior and amusing antics have been delighting children for years in the long-running series from the versatile Gantos (Joey Pigza Loses Control, 2000, etc.). Read full book review >
JOEY PIGZA LOSES CONTROL by Jack Gantos
Released: Sept. 22, 2000

"A tragic tale in many ways, but a triumph too. (Fiction. 11-13)"
As if Joey didn't get into enough trouble in his unforgettable debut, Joey Pigza Swallowed the Key (1998), Gantos has him wig out again in this sad, scary, blackly funny sequel. Read full book review >
Released: Sept. 22, 1999

"Have readers fasten their seat belts for this one, or—for a real jolt of Jack—don't. (Fiction. 10-12)"
Jack's back (Jack's Black Book, 1997, etc.) and wacko enough to water ski on land, feed his sleeping sister a cockroach, and bring about the unfortunate demise of three pet cats. Read full book review >
Released: May 31, 1999

"As usual, Rubel's portrayal of this wicked feline is devilishly enchanting, enough to guarantee a faithful following beyond Rotten Ralph's allotted nine lives. (Picture book. 4-8)"
Rotten Ralph (Rotten Ralph's Rotten Romance, 1997, etc.) is up to his red-tailed hijinks, and this time his behavior turns a wedding topsy-turvy. Read full book review >
JOEY PIGZA SWALLOWED THE KEY by Jack Gantos
Released: Oct. 1, 1998

"Mature readers will find this harsh tale softened by unusual empathy and leavened by genuinely funny events. (Fiction. 11-13)"
If Rotten Ralph were a boy instead of a cat, he might be Joey, the hyperactive hero of Gantos's new book, except that Joey is never bad on purpose. Read full book review >
BACK TO SCHOOL FOR ROTTEN RALPH by Jack Gantos
ANIMALS
Released: Aug. 30, 1998

"As always, Gantos supplies a happy ending for Ralph and Sarah; it's safely predictable while providing some surprises along the way. (Picture book. 4-6)"
Rotten Ralph (Rotten Ralph's Rotten Romance, 1997, etc.) returns in a ninth adventure, afraid of losing Sarah's attention and affection when she starts school. Read full book review >
JACK'S BLACK BOOK by Jack Gantos
FICTION
Released: Sept. 10, 1997

Gantos trots out one disgusting and dangerous event after another to give his morose protagonist material for jokes, but the fun and games are edging over the top in this companion to Jack's New Power (1995). Read full book review >
DESIRE LINES by Jack Gantos
FICTION
Released: March 10, 1997

"No answers here, just harsh questions. (Fiction. 12+)"
This bitter, open-ended tale of a Florida teenager who "outs" a lesbian couple, then watches as one kills the other before turning the gun on herself, offers an astonishing change of pace for the author of Jack's New Power (1995). Read full book review >
ROTTEN RALPH'S ROTTEN ROMANCE by Jack Gantos
ANIMALS
Released: Jan. 1, 1997

"It's Ralph's eighth episode—and as Sarah's unrelenting forgiveness grows increasingly incomprehensible, the formula is starting to wear thin. (Picture book. 4-6)"
Clifford the Big Red Dog's feline evil twin confronts his worst nightmare: Valentine's Day. Read full book review >
ZIP SIX by Jack Gantos
MYSTERY & CRIME
Released: Sept. 16, 1996

"The jailhouse insight in this unsurprising, rather superficial work comes nowhere near the belly of the beast."
The author of numerous children's and YA novels, Gantos turns for the first time to some distinctly adult material in this straightforward jailhouse narrative, yet another novel in which an Elvis impersonator figures prominently. Read full book review >
JACK'S NEW POWER by Jack Gantos
FAMILY AND GROWING UP
Released: Sept. 19, 1995

"Indeed, by his insistent cheer, Jack conveys the tragic aspects of life much more forcefully than any sentimental treatment could. (Fiction. 11+)"
Following Heads or Tails (1994), more stories about the life of the Henry family on Barbados. Read full book review >
HEADS OR TAILS by Jack Gantos
FAMILY AND GROWING UP
Released: June 1, 1994

"Funny moments, with an underlying poignancy. (Fiction. 11-13)"
Though Jack has lived in nine houses and gone to five schools in his young life, three things have remained constant: a stable family, his father's inability to find a permanent job—and The Sound of Music, playing at the local drive-in since he moved to his Fort Lauderdale neighborhood. Read full book review >
ROTTEN RALPH'S ROTTEN CHRISTMAS by Jack Gantos
ANIMALS
Released: Sept. 1, 1984

"Rubel's antic, naive illustrations keep this open display of sibling rivalry at a delectable, cathartic remove—while the conjunction with Christmas ('Bad cats don't get Christmas presents') doubles the stakes."
WORSE THAN ROTTEN, RALPH by Jack Gantos
ANIMALS
Released: Oct. 25, 1982

"All in all, Gantos and Rubel's one inspired creation defends his title with a gratifying vengeance."
Climbing a tree to knock the hats off passers-by seems a tame prank compared to Ralph's earlier one (in Rotten Ralph) of sawing off the branch from which Sarah was swinging; but it is one of the tricks the tough alley cats lure him into when he is trying to stay reformed. Read full book review >
GREEDY GREENY by Jack Gantos
Released: Oct. 19, 1980

A holy terror of a guilt dream, as experienced by shaggy, comically fiendish Greeny Monster who has eaten all the food in the house and finished off with the watermelon his mother was saving for the next day's dessert. Read full book review >
THE WEREWOLF FAMILY by Jack Gantos
Released: Sept. 29, 1980

"And kids in the Halloween mood will pounce on this where paler spooks will leave them cold."
Normally the Werewolf family—Mr., Mrs., and young Harry and Mary—look properly Edwardian. Read full book review >
SWAMPY ALLIGATOR by Jack Gantos
Released: April 3, 1980

"Even the pictures are a washout."
Perhaps Gantos and Rubel have a friend who offends. Read full book review >
ROTTEN RALPH by Jack Gantos
ANIMALS
Released: Feb. 19, 1980

"Rudel has a grand time with Ralph's wicked antics—picture a lusher, more emotive Byron Barton—and her hyper-naive playfulness is cathartic and just what a devil like Ralph has coming to him."
Rotten Ralph is a mean-eyed, saw-toothed, bright red cat, so bad he makes Awful Alexander (see above) look like a goody-goody. Read full book review >
THE PERFECT PAL by Jack Gantos
Released: Sept. 26, 1979

"Wendell look good."
"What I need is a pal to cheer me up," says Vanessa, so she heads for the pet shop. Read full book review >
AUNT BERNICE by Jack Gantos
FAMILY AND GROWING UP
Released: March 1, 1978

"Aunt Bernice's consistent coltish spirits could indeed be trying; but with her splashy patterns, outrageous perspective, exhuberant asides, and even a loving, Matisse-y hug at the end, Rubel does her to a frazzle."
If neither Aunt Bernice nor her wonderful (if Booth-like) dog Rex can yet face up to Gantos and Rubel's inspired red cat, still for the first time since Rotten Ralph Gantos' story provides a suitable outlet for Rubel's manic energy. Read full book review >
FAIR-WEATHER FRIENDS by Jack Gantos
FICTION
Released: Feb. 1, 1977

"After their happy pairing in last year's Rotten Ralph, Gantos and Rubel seem as ill-matched here as Maggie and Chester."
Maggie and Chester are best friends, but because he hates the freezing North, where they live, and she is miserable in the sizzling tropics, where they row for a vacation, they decide to split—keeping in touch via postcards and visiting "just as often as they can." Read full book review >
SLEEPY RONALD by Jack Gantos
Released: Sept. 15, 1976

"But since the pictures have narrative punch to go with their visual zap, they just might carry this sleeper along."
Rubel's splashy, tutti-frutti backgrounds were a natural environment for Rotten Ralph (p. 129, J-39). Read full book review >