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Jack Adrift

by Jack Gantos

As the Henry family sets sail for a new life on Cape Hatteras, fourth-grader Jack is struggling to chart a course between his parents’ contradictory advice on making friends and influencing people. Just tell people what they want to hear, Dad advises. Just tell the truth, Mom cautions. Jack finds there are no easy answers as he drifts through his crazy school year, falling desperately in love with his young teacher, getting suckered into becoming a bad-behavior spy for the principal, and being forced to make a presentable pet out of a duck with backward feet. Indeed, with an airheaded, air-guitar-playing neighbor the closest thing to a friend, and a judgmental older sister his relentless enemy, it’s all he can do to stay afloat.

Reviews

  • Gantos manages to make Jack’s weird predicaments both familiar and fantastic; laugh-out-loud scenes have a tendency to sneak up on you . . . Jack’s realistic struggle with the pull between childhood and the world of adults will resonate with the book's audience.
    — The Horn Book, Starred Review
  • Slapstick is nicely balanced with reflection . . . The catchy format imitates a journal with lined-paper edges and excerpts of Jack’s handwritten ramblings. A fun and refreshing read.
    — School Library Journal
  • Jack jumps off the pages . . . Gantos’s wonderful writing [is] witty, smart, and unafraid to tackle tough topics.
    — Booklist

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