Grandits, John 1949-

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Grandits, John 1949-

PERSONAL:

Born 1949; married; wife's name Joanne (a children's librarian).

ADDRESSES:

Home—Red Bank, NJ. Agent—Andrea Cascardi, Transatlantic Literary Agency, 72 Glengowan Rd., Toronto, Ontario M4N 1G4, Canada.

CAREER:

Author and book and magazine designer.

AWARDS, HONORS:

Cooperative Children's Book Center Choice designation, American Library Association Notable Book for Children designation, and Quick Pick for Young Adults designation, all 2005, all for Technically, It's Not My Fault; Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Award Honor designation, 2008, for Blue Lipstick.

WRITINGS:

Pictures Tell Stories, Open Court (Chicago, IL), 1995.

(Self-illustrated) Technically, It's Not My Fault: Concrete Poems, Clarion Books (New York, NY), 2004.

Blue Lipstick: Concrete Poems, Clarion Books (New York, NY), 2007.

The Travel Game, illustrated by R.W. Alley, Clarion Books (New York, NY), 2008.

Author of "Beatrice Black Bear" (monthly cartoon), for Click magazine.

SIDELIGHTS:

John Grandits started his career in children's book publishing as a book designer and an art director, and he has also worked as an art director at the highly praised Cricket magazine. However, he is best known to middle-grade and teen readers as the author of several verse novels featuring concrete poetry. A whimsical verse form, concrete poetry is comprised of words typeset on each page in such a way that they represent an object that is the subject of the same poem. For example, a poem about a snake might be typeset to twist and turn in a ropelike line across the page, visually mimicking the shape of a snake. In Technically, It's Not My Fault: Concrete Poems, Grandits takes concrete poetry a step further, using colored fonts, drawings, and other visual elements to focus on a boy's troubles with his older sister. In Blue Lipstick: Concrete Poems, he employs the same techniques, this time to present the siblings' conflicts from the older sister's perspective.

In Technically, It's Not My Fault, eleven-year-old Robert shares the ups and downs of his day, including homework, basketball, friends, nonsensical musings, and his battles with his annoying older sister, Jessie. Grandits's young narrator "emerges as the prototypical kids'-book kid: smart-mouthed, eternally at war with his sister, deeply in tune with the digestive process, and more interested in sports and video games than school," explained a Kirkus Reviews writer in appraising the poetry collection. The middle grader's humorous and often sarcastic musings are captured in a series of poems that, taken together, comprise what Booklist contributor Gillian Engberg described as a "highly creative collection" able to "convince readers that poetry can be loud, outrageous, gross fun." In SchoolLibrary Journal, Marilyn Taniguchi praised the "brilliant" design of Technically, It's Not My Fault, adding that Grandits's "technical brilliance and goofy good humor [combine] to provide an accessible, fun-filled collection of poems" for middle-grade readers. Predicting that many readers "will appreciate the scatological wit" Robert employs, a Publishers Weekly critic dubbed Grandits's book "a technically (and imaginatively) inspired typeface experiment."

Turning to older readers, Blue Lipstick finds fifteen-year-old Jessie narrating her own perspective regarding high-school life and the annoyance of being Robert's sister. In addition to her typical teen fascination with boys, clothes, and makeup, Jessie also writes about her role on the volleyball team, her decision to become a vegetarian, her time practicing the cello, and her unique attitudes about life. In addition to using over fifty different fonts, unique page designs, and a graphic cover design, in Blue Lipstick Grandits presents readers with an intimate view of a creative, likeable, and strong-willed teen who "leaps right off the page, in turn feisty and insecure," in the opinion of Horn Book contributor Tanya D. Auger. The poet's "irreverent, witty collection should resonate with a wide audience," predicted Taniguchi, while in Kirkus Reviews a contributor dubbed Grandits's second collection of concrete verse a "a playfully worthy companion" to Technically, It's Not My Fault.

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

Booklist, December 15, 2004, Gillian Engberg, review of Technically, It's Not My Fault: Concrete Poems, p. 739.

Horn Book, July-August, 2007, Tanya D. Auger, review of Blue Lipstick: Concrete Poems, p. 408.

Kirkus Reviews, October 15, 2004, review of It's Not My Fault, p. 1006; May 1, 2007, review of Blue Lipstick.

Publishers Weekly, December 6, 2004, review of Technically, It's Not My Fault, p. 61.

School Library Journal, December, 2004, Marilyn Taniguchi, review of Technically, It's Not My Fault, p. 161; July, 2007, Marilyn Taniguchi, review of Blue Lipstick, p. 115.

ONLINE

Writing and Ruminating,http://kellyrfineman.livejournal.com/ (May 22, 2008), Kelly R. Fineman, interview with Grandits.