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From Norvelt to Nowhere (Norvelt Series) Hardcover – September 24, 2013
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Katherine Applegate Interviews Jack Gantos
Katherine Applegate: Your alter-ego Jackie Gantos is back! Of all his hysterical new antics in From Norvelt to Nowhere, which scene did you have the most fun writing?
Jack Gantos: That’s a tough question. There are so many good scenes. There is the harpoon scene, and the pistol escapade, and the over imbibing, the creepy bathroom stall scene ... I’ll settle on the scene where Miss Volker is using the sandwich bread to wipe the unending tears from her guilty crying while the soggy bread balls roll down her face like they were little white garden snails. That scene sinks into chaos for Jack.
KA: In the new book, Jack and Miss Volker visit some odd historical sites on their wild road trip, including a real ghost town. Is Rugby, Tennessee, still abandoned?
JG: Rugby is a great old town started by Thomas Hughes, who had written Tom Brown's School Days. He traveled from England and began the town which was built on socialist/utopic principles. The town was a perfect fit for Miss Volker’s childhood back story, and it had been abandoned for many years. But it has had a bit of a revival. The fabulous library has always been intact, though it was boarded up for many decades. The town’s origins parallel the origins of Norvelt.
KA: Is there a memorable, silly, or just plain embarrassing question you recall being asked at a school visit?
JG: After a Rotten Ralph presentation a baby-faced first grader stood up and with a very sincere voice asked me what had happened to the real cat that inspired Rotten Ralph. The boy seemed very troubled. I replied as sincerely as possible, "Well, he lived a wonderful life for many, many years until finally ... he expired."
He shifted from foot to foot and thought about that last word. Finally he asked, "What does expired mean?"
I paused. Time was passing. The other kids were getting restless so I got to the point. "It means he died," I said.
He thought about that, then asked, "Well, did you stuff him?"
"I should have," I replied while thinking, dang, I really should have. But it was too late for that.
KA: When you autograph books, you often write "Read or Rot!" Why?
JG: Oh, it’s just a fun little motto that basically boils down to Read books or your brain will Rot. I usually draw a skull and write READ OR ROT! in blood red ink across the forehead. Kids like it.
KA: Writing pre-Newbery. Writing post-Newbery. Any difference?
JG: There are differences but they are all very shadowy. There are no statements to be made about the differences. There are only questions. I honestly don’t spend a lot of time pondering this as I’ll probably invent a problem where none exists.
KA: Where do you keep your Medal?
JG: In the freezer. When I have guests over for dinner and make individual butter pats for each plate I use the medal to imprint the butter. This way the conversation starts off about me.
From School Library Journal
Gr 5-8-Gantos picks up where Dead End in Norvelt (Farrar, 2011) left off. Mr. Spitz is on the run and Miss Volker is the last Norvelt old lady remaining. In the wake of three momentous deaths, young Jack finds himself rushed from one uproarious adventure to another. Accompanying Miss Volker, he traverses the country ostensibly to memorialize Eleanor Roosevelt and Miss Volker's sister. Little does he know, however, that Miss Volker has another agenda. Even though she claims to be a pacifist, she becomes more bloodthirsty at each stop in her efforts to catch the murderous Mr. Spitz. Along the way she teaches Jack (and readers) about the history of the country in colorful and enlightening ways. The book is fast paced and laced with both history lessons and hilarity. The characters, who were so well developed in the first book, return, with perhaps too much reliance on previous developments. This is definitely a follow-up book, rather than one that reads well alone. Fans of Dead End in Norvelt will love reading more about young Jack Gantos and his pal, Miss Volker.-Genevieve Feldman, San Francisco Public Libraryα(c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Top customer reviews
A cheeky old lady made a promise to Elenor Roosevelt that she would keep Norvelt safe and healthy! She writes the most amazing Obits for the passing town's people... This is the second book in the series so make sure you catch the first one so you can fall in love with the characters as me and my boys have!