Review: Writing Radar by Jack Gantos

33155333In the fall of 2015, I briefly met Jack Gantos at the ALAN Workshop during an author signing.

During that brief encounter I asked him to sign a book to “Spud Readers.” He stopped and took out a small sticky notes with a sly grin and began writing as he looked up at me and said something around the lines of, “Wow so are you saying your school’s mascot is a potato? That is pretty funny. Spuds, huh?! I hope they like my book as much as I like their mascot’s name.” In those brief moments I saw a man who delights in the world, is inquisitive, and naturally funny.

Little did I know at the time, his sticky notes were a piece of his writing process for snooping out stories!

Writing Radars mixes great writing advice with classic Jack Gantos’ storytelling to show readers how stories are all around us and how the world can offer us a great number of story ideas if we are listening carefully, and have ways of writing ideas down when they come to us!

Gantos’ uses a tiny wallet journal, pocket notepad, sticky notes and a larger journal to capture his thinking as he begins to craft his stories.

Gantos’ examples of how to utilize the world and your journal for stories is accessible and very easy to follow. At one point he encourages the reader to find where their last name would be in the library and ask them to make a promise to themselves that they will write a book and get it published. From inspiring moments like this to concrete examples of how to craft stories and make them better, Jack has added yet another wonderful book about the power of stories and the need for us (the readers) to write our own!

I can’t wait to share Jack’s book this fall as my students and I work on crafting our own stories!