After the Call: What Would Miss Volker Say?

Gantos with daughter Mabel after his Newbery win. Photo courtesy of Jack Gantos.

I was very pleased to receive the Newbery Award and Scott O’Dell Award for Dead End in Norvelt. In the book, Miss Volker warned of the corrosive, anti-democratic tactics of fake news and advised ­Norvelters to beware those who tell willful lies and call them the truth. She advised Americans to get the facts on their own; otherwise, they might be misled and tricked into becoming tools for ­politicians who would prefer to be dictators.

Since Dead End in Norvelt was published, all of Miss Volker’s warnings about the need to protect democracy from fascism have come true. I think Miss Volker would be disappointed that the book was not a vaccination against the lies that have become a false face pasted over the truth.

I only wish the real Miss Volker were alive today to continue her advocacy for a democratic and fair United States where education for all will provide freedom for all. The book is an appreciation of democracy, free will, and uplifting community values that every citizen should strive to honor and protect.

From the May/June 2022 special issue of The Horn Book Magazine: The Newbery Centennial.

Jack Gantos
Jack Gantos

Jack Gantos has written books for readers from the cradle to the grave. He has received Printz and Sibert honors and is the 2010 recipient of the NCTE/ALAN Award. He won the Newbery Medal and Scott O'Dell Award in 2012 for Dead End in Norvelt; Joey Pigza Loses Control was a 2001 Newbery honoree. His most recent book is Writing Radar (all Farrar).

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