Posted in MG Novels, So Many Good Books

Stanford Wong Flunks Big Time by Lisa Yee

Stanford WongI’d read Millicent Min, Girl Genius by Lisa before, but when I read Stanford’s version of the same summer, I had to go back and reread Millicent Min to see her viewpoint again. These humorous books give an insight into these two minds, letting us see why they do what they do. Lisa has also written a 3rd book from yet another character’s viewpoint of the same summer, So Totally Emily Ebers. I’m really looking forward to reading it, too.

If you want to know more about Lisa, she writes a blog about writing and more. Visit it at or go to her website: What I want to know though, is how does she have time to write great books, speak about writing, be a mom and wife to her kids and husband respectively, AND write a fun blog…

Posted in MG Novels, So Many Good Books

Books set in Kansas – Airball, My Life in Briefs & out of patience

I just happened to read two books set in Kansas this last week.  Both were very entertaining.  Both at one level were sports stories.  But both also had much more going for them, such as humor . . .

AirballjacketThe first, Airball, My Life in Briefs (Roaring Brook Press, 2005) gives us the voice of Kirby Nickel loud and clear.  Kirby’s town loves basketball so much they are the self proclaimed Baseball Capital of Kansas.  Kirby loves the sport, too.  However, he can’t play and definitely doesn’t want to humiliate himself by trying.  But when the 7th grade team will get the chance to meet homegrown celebrity 6 foot 9 inch NBA start Brett McGrew, Kirby has to go out for the team.
Author LD Harkrader had me both laughing and identifying with her main character and his struggles.
Hope to see more books by Lisa soon.  Check out her website at

outofpatienceThe second, out of patience (Delacourte, 2006) by Brian Meehl reminds me a lot of Holes by Louis Sacher.  I suppose it’s a combination of the humor and the back and forth between the present and the past and how what happened then affects now.  It’s a story about friends and family, a small town, and what you believe.
In this case, 12-year-old Jake Waters definitely believes in the curse–the one that says the Plunger (as in toilet) of Destiny returning to Patience will be the beginning of the final destruction of the town.  The arrival of the dreaded artifact means there won’t even be a seventh game in the KSF Workup Baseball World Series.  As you read, you’ll learn about a variety of “head bonks” as well as the Waters’ men’s philosophy, “when in doubt, don’t move.”

Read about Brian at

Posted in So Many Good Books, YA Novels

Perfect Shot

Murder Mystery, yet so much more…

Brian uses basketball to block his memories of the murder of his girlfriend.  But then he receives a school assignment to study the justice system in relationship to a girl’s murder in 1913.  What if his memory of the jogger he saw is like the evidence not presented in the historical case?  What if Amanda’s father will go to jail wrongly accused like Leo Frank did?  But justice will prevail, right?  He told the police about the jogger.  His father says to stay out of it.  But then his father also says to stay out of it when his best friend is arrested for being a black kid in a white part of the city and Brian knows that’s not right.  So what is he to do?

This book by Elaine Marie Alphin is very compelling.  I thought I’d read just a bit before bed, but then two hours later I’m still up reading and must reach the end.  The Perfect Shot (Carolrhoda, 2005) could not have been titled anything else, which you’ll see when you read it yourself. 

I already was looking forward to Elaine speaking at the Kansas SCBWI conference in June (, as I’ve been helped by many of her articles in ICL’s Children’s Writer in the past, and I really like her book Counterfeit Son, but now I almost feel in awe that Elaine Marie Alphin is coming to our conference!  I hope to learn a lot from her.

Here’s her website: