Jack on the Tracks by Jack Gantos
Four Seasons of Fifth Grade (Jack Henry Adventures)

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Synopsis

From the Newbery Medal–winning author of Dead End in Norvelt, nine semi-autobiographical stories that will make you laugh so hard it hurts

 

In Jack on the Tracks, fifth-grader Jack Henry is hoping for fresh adventure when he moves to a new home in Miami with his family, but he can’t escape his old worrying ways. He worries about being fascinated with all things gross and disgusting. He worries about his crazy French-obsessed schoolteacher. And most of all he worries about worrying so much.

 

In this cycle of interrelated stories, there may be light at the end of the tunnel, if only Jack can get on the right track to survive his outrageous year.


 

About Jack Gantos

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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, Joey Pigza Loses Control, a Newbery Honor book, and Dead End in Norvelt, winner of the Newbery Medal and the Scott O'Dell Award for Historical Fiction. Jack was raised in Norvelt, 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.
 
Published July 1, 1999 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR). 192 pages
Genres: Humor & Entertainment, Children's Books, Literature & Fiction, Action & Adventure. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Jack on the Tracks

Publishers Weekly

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These companion stories to the Jack Henry books are ""extravagantly imaginative adventures,"" said PW;

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Presumably (hopefully?) the truth mostly ends there, because Jackie's summer of 1962 begins badly: plagued by frequent and explosive nosebleeds, Jackie is assigned to take dictation for the arthritic obituary writer, Miss Volker, and kept alarmingly busy by elderly residents dying in rapid succes...

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For kids anxious about a trip to the doctor, their favorite feline may offer some assistance, in Rotten Ralph Feels Rotten: A Rotten Ralph Rotten Reader by Jack Gantos, illus.

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At the end of seventh grade, Jack Henry decides to write a novel in this third collection of interlinked stories.

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Knowing that the narrator is destined to land in jail keeps suspense at a high pitch, but this book's remarkable achievement is the multiple points of view that emerge, as experiences force a fledgling writer to continually revise his perspective of himself and the world around him.

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In a starred review, PW called this National Book Award finalist ""an accurate, compassionate and humorous appraisal of a boy with attention-deficit disorder."" Ages 10-up.

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when he can think of nothing to write, he begins to pack the diary with ``stuff''--bugs, baseball cards, stamps and so on--but he concludes, ``I was covering over the empty white space of the pages in the same way I covered my eyes with my hands when I watched a monster movie.'' A bittersweet res...

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Fans of Gantos's irrepressible Ralph who are ready to graduate from picture books will eagerly leap into this early chapter book, the first installment of the Rotten Ralph Rotten Reader series.

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Walker, a pensive loner, avoids confrontation as much as possible-until the son of a fundamentalist preacher accuses him of being gay.

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Jack Gantos continues the Jack Henry Books (Jack on the Tracks;

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Gantos draws inspiration from his own childhood diaries in the fourth collection of stories about Jack Henry.

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Reader Rating for Jack on the Tracks
69%

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