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Heads or Tails: Stories from the Sixth Grade (Jack Henry #1)

3.67  ·  Rating details ·  209 Ratings  ·  39 Reviews
From the Newbery Medal–winning author of Dead End in Norvelt, eight more hysterical semi-autobiographical Jack Henry stories about a sixth grader's trials and tribulations

Jack's life is a crazy roller-coaster ride. At his fifth school in six years, he has a crackpot teacher who won't give him a break about his lousy handwriting and a secret crush who wants to be a policewo
Paperback, 160 pages
Published September 19th 1995 by Square Fish (first published 1994)
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Nov 08, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I admit that I am a Jack Gantos fan, and so is my nearly 8 year old grandson. He owns this book, and it is a signed copy! I selected it a couple of weeks ago as our read aloud over breakfast, thinking we could easily do a chapter a day, but it took a bit longer than I had expected. There is the expected humor, and the problems that occur for the main character, Jack.

Jack has been in five schools in six years, and his family rents a house in Fort Lauderdale, next to the Pagoda family (who are a
Jun 06, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Sometimes it seems as if Jack Gantos has an unending well of story ideas from his days as a kid. He takes actual experiences from the first twelve years or so of his life and mixes in just enough fiction to make for stories that are hilarious to readers of any age and reading level. Dead End in Norvelt, winner of the 2012 John Newbery Medal, may be his most famous example of this, but Jack Gantos had started with that form of storytelling long before his Newbery Medal winner was ever published. ...more
I got these over the summer since my son was moving from 5th to 6th grade. I thought he would read them on his own, but he never did, so we picked up Jack on the Tracks: Four Seasons of Fifth Grade for bedtime reading after finishing The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and then followed it with this one. As in Jack on the Tracks: Four Seasons of Fifth Grade. There is a lot of humor in the book, some gross-out moments (perfect for many boys of this age), and some deeper wisdom thrown in there. Not ...more
Sep 20, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: growing, up, jack, gantos, childhood
The stories in this collection are darker than the wacky cover would lead you to believe. Yes, these are funny stories about growing up, but many of them are tinged with the sad realization that life isn't exactly what you hoped it would be.
Jun 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of the short stories from this novel is used as a mentor text in the personal narrative writing unit I teach so I thought I'd read the entire book of short stories. To my disappointment, the one I use in class was not in this book - maybe in a newer/revised edition - I don't know. However, I LOVE this book! It is full of mentor texts to use in the classroom, and it's interesting to 6th graders! Win-win! I love the fact that Gantos isn't afraid to tackle the tough stuff in life and to be vuln ...more
Breyanna Hill
This is Jacks fifth school is six years. He struggles with his crazy teacher, a pest of a little brother, an older sister who mocks him, and the sound of music blaring overnight from a nearby-drive in. Jack still writes in his diary about his good days and bad days. This is one of the ways Jack survives his up-and-down year. But he's also a kid who knows that life can go any which way at any given moment.
Sep 08, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: young-adult
Really fantastic collection of short stories. I have been finding them really useful in teaching various aspects of writing a narrative.
Aug 16, 2017 rated it really liked it
So ends the summer of Gantos for me? This collection of stories was solid, like the first Norvelt book.
Sep 13, 2017 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Apr 09, 2011 rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mar 08, 2017 rated it really liked it
I thoroughly enjoyed these stories. I had the privilege of hearing Jack Gantos talk at an educator conference last week and he was so interesting and entertaining! I'm working my way through his books.
Sandy Kanjanakuha
Apr 01, 2012 rated it really liked it
I recently read a book call Heads or Tails by Jack Gantos. I think it was a very good book for kids at about 11 or 12 to read. This story is about a boy name Jack, which is the author himself. It tells about many events that happened during his 6th grade year. One of my favorite event that happen in this book is the event of the copy cat. He had a sister, her name is Betsy. Whatever she did he did, whatever she owned he needed to have one. One day his sister got a diary from their mother. Jack s ...more
Bethany Erickson
Jan 06, 2012 rated it really liked it
Heads or Tails by Jack Gantos is a collection of stories told from the viewpoint of Jack Henry, a sixth grader living in Fort Lauderdale, FL. Gantos took ideas from his own childhood journal to create Jack Henry’s world. Jack’s family is not well-off; in fact, they’ve moved nine times in his short life, renting every home he’s stayed in. His father has changed jobs more times than that. Jack has an older sister in 8th grade, Betsy, and a younger brother, Pete, in first. Betsy wants nothing to do ...more
Linda Lipko
Aug 31, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: young-adult
Jack lives a heads or tails life when one flip of the coin can change his life for good or bad. While the coin consistently flips on the loosing side, he finds adventure and drama at each turn.

With a father who cannot seem to find the right job, nor can he keep it, living in six rental homes in five years keeps him hoping and navigating different rules and different schools.

A sister who is bratty and cruel, a little brother who is insistent of wanting Jack's attention, and a mother who does the
Feb 02, 2008 rated it liked it
I wanted to love it. (I find myself saying that often.) Sixth grade is an up-and-down year, and we can always use more funny and honest stories about it. This was definitely both those things. But although I think episodic structure can work, it didn't really this time, possibly because many of the chapters introduced new characters and didn't give me time to care about them. The MC has the same first name as the author, which makes me think this is largely autobiographical; including autobiogra ...more
Mar 31, 2012 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed the book, and especially related to his story of riding his bike behind the mosquito fogger. How many other people my age must have done that as a kid? Dave did too, and now I'm wondering if everyone did. Where were our parents?? How could they not know that was unhealthy?

It was a great book for showing how kids deal with things that happen and how they view family life ex. having to watch out for the younger brother.

I recently saw Jack Gantos speak at the reading conference, so I tr
Cindy Dyson Eitelman
Apr 20, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2013-14
Very amusing for tweeners.  Not so much for old farts like me.  I enjoyed it like I would a Reader's Digest article--cute, but shallow.  It's not exactly something I'll seek out and read more of.  It wasn't as clever as Danny Dunn nor as historically amusing as The Great Brain.  And definitely not as flat-out-funny as Pat McManus's childhood tales.  But it was amusing.

Definitely recommended for pre-teen boys.
Jul 27, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This book is part of a series of semi-autobiographical stories from author Jack Gantos. You know, most people need to embellish stories from their lives to make them more interesting; you get the feeling that Gantos needs to tone his stories down because he manages to get into so much trouble! I really loved these stories of a kid with an imperfect but loving family; you'll root for him the whole time.
Diannah Biron
Apr 24, 2016 rated it really liked it
i liked this book, but it was kind of dark. But I believe that's how life is. Nothing goes as planned and nothing goes how you want it to go. Jack grows up with a hard life with a father is is basically unstable and has to constantly move. Jack doesn't have any consistency in his life. Although, this book was dark, it was very funny. It really made me think and had some thoughtful parts in it. I'm definitely recommending this to my 10 year old nephew!
Nicole  :0
Oct 07, 2016 rated it really liked it
I think the book Heads or Tails by Jack Gantos was a great book! The book was about his short stories from the 6th grade.My favorite short story from his book was copycat because i like the way the story
ends because the mean teacher that believed that jack wrote his own work felt stupid at the end. I really recommend this book to people that want to have a good laugh or smile.
May 02, 2013 rated it liked it
Lots of humor and realistic scenarios from Jack Gantos, the king of misadventures. This book contains several short stories about Jack's experiences during his sixth grade year. Some are laugh-out-loud funny, others seem odd additions. The ending is abrupt-- no warning, just over. I was hoping there would be a more sophisticated ending that would link all the stories together cohesively.
Mathias Miller
The book heads or tails was a very short book. It was easy to read but didn't make much sense. The chapters where all a different book it felt like. If you want a quick and easy read i would recamend this book but if you want a book that makes sense to you and where you can follow the plot line i wouldn't recomend it.
Halle Caban
Mar 07, 2014 rated it really liked it
This boom by jack Fantis is amazing! This book was written on 1994, but seems like it's been write in 2013. I enjoyed his book very much. Te book is about the kids story's my favorite was when they went to cocoa beach and are about to mor there,but using want to spoil it. There are about 7 or 6 stories in he book. I enjoyed and you might too.
Ms. Campbell
Jan 24, 2016 rated it really liked it
I love the mischief the character gets into, so different from my life. If you liked the autobiographical nature of Fig Pudding by Ralph Fletcher you'll like this book, it's just a bit more "raw". He's got more in the series of Jack I'd like to read.
Oct 05, 2009 rated it it was amazing
It was an amzaming book. You never knew what was going to happen next in the book. There was alot of times when I wanted to cry but also times when I wanted to laugh to I cried. It is a good book.It is based on the author life. It teaches you what not to do if you don't want to get in troble.
This is about Jack entering the 6th grade. Students would be able to relate to this book, and would be a good read to use at the beginning of a school year if teaching 6th grade.
Jan 16, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Head of tails is a great book. Jack Gantos is an interesting writer that is able to take little memoryes of his life to make it into a series of books. A book I would recommend to all.
Mar 19, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: 1996, young-adult
review from 1996:
"Heads or Tails tells the story of a 12 year old boy and his frequent moves, battles with his sister, and his troubles with neighbors, chores, and life. Very amusing!"
Chris May
Dec 02, 2014 rated it really liked it
quick fun read
Aug 30, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: kid-lit, listened-to
3.5 stars
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Jack Gantos is an American author of children's books renowned for his portrayal of fictional Joey Pigza, a boy with ADHD, and many other well known characters such as Rotten Ralph, Jack Henry, Jack Gantos (memoirs) and others. Gantos has won a number of awards, including the Newbery, the Newbery Honor, the Scott O'Dell Award, the Printz Honor, and the Sibert Honor from the American Library Associ ...more
More about Jack Gantos

Other Books in the Series

Jack Henry (5 books)
  • Jack's New Power: Stories from a Caribbean Year (Jack Henry, #2)
  • Jack's Black Book: What Happens When You Flunk an IQ Test? (Jack Henry, #3)
  • Jack on the Tracks: Four Seasons of Fifth Grade (Jack Henry, #4)
  • Jack Adrift: Fourth Grade Without a Clue (Jack Henry, #5)

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