Jack for Ambassador! In Which My Friends Join Me In
Some Impossibly Excessive Fangirl’ing Before Breakfast

h1 September 12th, 2011 by jules

See my special tee shirt that I’m wearing today for a special reason? And I’m wearing it in solidarity this morning with two other friends, sportin’ the exact same haute couture. What in the actual what the? you may be wondering. Let me explain.

It goes a little like this: Whenever author Jack Gantos very simply either writes or speaks, cyberspace chatter amongst myself, blogger/public librarian Adrienne Furness (What Adrienne Thinks About That), and blogger/school librarian Camille Powell (BookMoot) enthusiastically ensues — all on account of our most sincere (and long-time) fan-dom. Jack has written a new novel, Dead End in Norvelt, which I covered over here in a July Kirkus column (and followed up here at 7-Imp with an interview with the man himself). This book sees its official release today. Adrienne, Camille, and I exchanged many emails about the book over the past few months (we were lucky enough to have early copies of it) and discussed how much we enjoyed it. Natch. This didn’t surprise us.

But I also had the distinct pleasure of hearing Jack speak in April at The University of Tennessee, and I contacted Adrienne and Camille, my number-one fellow Jack-fans, at that time to say, “I saw Jack speak again, ladies, and once again I was reminded why it is that I decided to study children’s lit in the first place.” Because, you see, hearing Gantos speak will do that for you, as well as make you laugh so hard that you think you’ll nearly split in half. (Thank goodness for his wicked and refreshing sense of humor.) His words are just invigorating is all there is to it. The three of us chatted about, as always, his general awesome-ness as a force in children’s lit, given this new novel and his appeal as a speaker. So . . .


(Photo from the April children’s lit conference at the Center for Children’s and Young Adult Literature, or CCYAL, at The University of Tennessee. Pictured left to right is Dr. Cindy Welch from UT, Steven Withrow, Mary Pom Claiborne from Knox County Public Library, Gantos, Dr. Kenneth Wise from UT, Miranda Clark from the CCYAL, Kristie Atwood from Webb School of Knoxville, me, and author Richard Michelson. Photo credit: The One and Only Robin Smith.)

. . . this led Adrienne and Camille and I to ponder, amongst ourselves, what a wonderful Ambassador for Young People’s Literature Gantos would one day be. If we could rule the world anyway, we’d proclaim that. So, we got all crazy and decided to have tees made. (As you can see, we kept the text and design super simple.) Just for the three of us nerdy fans. But then we decided, hell, why not share ‘em on our respective blogs? And why not post our pics on the official book-release day for Norvelt? (I commissioned a long-time college friend in the T-shirt screen printing business to make these shirts quite a while ago but got so super SUH-WAMPED-busy with my manuscript deadline that I honestly forgot about it. So, when this book-release date neared and we three started talking again about doing this post, I was happy to finally put on the tee and wear it with fangirl pride.)

So, here we are, our tee shirt reveal: Adrienne’s post is here this morning, and Camille’s is here today.

{I’m including one more photo here, because I like how you can anagram “bad ass” from this view of the letters on the shirt. That somehow seems fitting. Let us not discuss the sassy, it-looks-like-I-took-a-photo-of-myself, Facebook’y look to that photo. I don’t know what that is all about.}

Are we gonna, say, start a nation-wide campaign and embarrass Jack? Nope. Are we gonna start a club and sky-write about it? Nope (though that’s tempting — I always like an excuse to meet in a tree house with s’mores and take minutes, and I’m a wicked nerdy note taker.) Though our fansanity seems to know no bounds, we’re just having a bit of fun. (But, SERIOUSLY, people, he’d make a great ambassador … we’re just sayin’…)

So, yeah. Next time Gantos is speaking in your vicinity, if you’re lucky enough for such scheduling to happen in your life, don’t miss a chance to hear him do his thing and impart his wisdom. If you already make children’s lit a part of your life, you’ll want to cheer when you’re done hearing him. If it’s not part of your life, his words will make it want to be.

And maybe one day we’ll hear him speak as Ambassador. If we nerds have our way …

(P.S. Thanks to my friend Rob Riehl and Riehl Printing in Knoxville, Tennessee, for making the tees for me, Adrienne, and Camille. Thanks to my seven-year-old for snappin’ my picture in my own home library, even though she had to step away from her favorite show to do so. And extra special thanks to Adrienne and Camille for playing along — as well as for their excellent taste in books.)





18 comments to “Jack for Ambassador! In Which My Friends Join Me In
Some Impossibly Excessive Fangirl’ing Before Breakfast”

  1. Hahah! Love that sassy shot. Your kid is getting to be a great photographer.

    Jack Gantos IS SO WEIRD. I love that he brings the weird in his books, although I must admit that I’m still slightly traumatized every time I think about taxidermy – those Rumbaughs about did me in. I would LOVE to hear him speak sometimes.

    I really hope you guys get your wish – he would make a great ambassador. What a lovely tribute.


  2. [...] while back, Jules and Camille and I decided to form an informal club to celebrate our love for one of our favorite [...]


  3. Maybe our next t-shirts should just get straight to the point and say, “Jack is Bad Ass.” I couldn’t wear that one to work, though.


  4. puhleeze, tell us where we can get our tee-shirts! I want one for every member of my family – we are ALL JACK fans! I also want to say that someone, someone needs to get FSG or its conglomerate now, to get jack to audio tape the Jack Henry books – the very best for intermediate/middle school kids! jinx


  5. Jinx, anything for you. Tell me what size(s).

    Everyone really needs to be over reading Adrienne’s and Camille’s posts, as they’re ever-so much better. What fun. Thanks, ladies! Maybe one day we can have a book club in person.


  6. Good job! I’m happy to tape up posters!


  7. After hearing him speak in Knoxville, I’m all for it! He is a bad-ass author, speaker, and all-around person, and he’d make a fine ambassador!

    (And you look pretty stylin’!)


  8. This is amazing, Jules! I love the shirts! Jack would be an amazing ambassador.

    And to all you Jack fans out there, he’s on tour this week and next! You can find the locations on his website: http://www.JackGantos.com

    Hope you get the chance to see him!


  9. Hooray for Jack! You guys are da bomb.


  10. Oh my goodness! I am literally getting in my car and driving to the library right now because, gulp, I havent’ read Jack Gantos before…I feel like a failure in the world of children’s lit! I’m off to remedy the situation!!


  11. Phew… I feel better. Especially now that I have started Joey Pigza and see what all the excitement is about. Jack is indeed one funny guy!


  12. Wow, Stacey. You’re fast.


  13. Well, I think I have to have one. Size L.
    Jack is a DEDICATED, PASSIONATE supported of books and libraries and his books are wonderful. I am not an audio book person, but I have made it a practice to listen to each of Jack’s books after reading the paper books. His voice is fab. Dean almost had to pull over the car when we listened to the first Joey book, I was nearly hyperventilating.

    Yes, I love Jack. And his ideas. (and you, too, Jules)


  14. I am SO glad we did this on the day Norvelt went on sale! Great Day to Celebrate!


  15. Would so wear “Jack is Bad Ass”


  16. I’ve heard Jack speak nearly a dozen times at children’s literature conferences–and twice at local reading council dinners. He is so entertaining…and so funny. Do not miss a chance to hear Jack speak. He’s better than a stand-up comedian!


  17. Hey, Jules! Did you know that your lovely photo made the CBC newsletter? Maria and I were howling with delight to see you there!


  18. No, I didn’t know that. Would love to see it!


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