Me and Jack Gantos. Hearts.
Jamie, Anna, Jack Gantos, and Sam
And hysterical. He started off by saying the theme of his speech would be "making connections." Or, at the very least, he was going to say that phrase several times over the course of his speech and that would have to do. He talked about bookish moments - when books were like an infection that entered your body and began driving your life. Jack (I'm going to call him Jack, I feel like he wouldn't mind) went off on this whole thing about going to a bookstore and finding just the right book and not letting anyone touch it or open it until you get home and in the privacy of your own room and then sniffing it. That's a bookish moment.
Jack retold the story of his many failed children's book attempts. The trouble was, he never really read any children's books. He just decided he was going to write them. We got to see some of the illustrations from these failed picture books, and they were amazing. AMAZING. I think he should publish a collection of these failed picture books. I especially liked the one about the socialist penguins who quit their construction jobs and buy a bowling alley. Finally, after giving in and actually reading some picture books, he hit upon something that his publisher felt like they could publish, and it was Rotten Ralph.
Jack said that the same thing you thought was interesting as a kid is still interesting to kids today. He pulls a lot of stuff from his own, fascinating childhood. Like, for instance, his mother was arrested for murder, "how do you not write about that?" Well you can't, and he did. Dead End in Norvelt is heavily based on his life. The town, the people, the trouble he got into, the Hell's Angels coming to town, or based on truth.
So the talk was excellent and would have been a wonderful way to end the evening but then, A TERRIBLE THING HAPPENED. Some MSLA members began to sing a song they'd written about librarians to the tune of Titanium by David Guetta. I think it was suppose to be like a flash mob with people joining in, only there weren't enough people and not all of them were super into it and kind of hung back by the walls. But some were super into it. And it was...embarrassing. Sure, I might do something similar, hanging out with my librarian friends. But at a professional conference...it was...kind of painful. And seriously, why would you try to follow Jack Gantos with anything?
Afterwards my fellow librarian friends and I flocked about him to tell him how fabulous and dapper he was. He received all compliments in stride. He knows.