Four good-hearted monsters repeatedly save the day by concocting clever ways to foil the schemes of their evil families and schoolmates.
Their challenges range from getting the residents of Hill House (“across from Shirley Jackson’s tomb”) to laugh rather than scream at a trio of ectoplasmic pranksters to saving the Plasma family after vampire neighbors issue an invitation to…dinner. Happily, Will, Mina, Brian, and Linda—respectively, a shy ghost, a vampire who prefers beet juice to blood, a brainy zombie, and a curse-reversing witch — rise to every challenge by putting their heads and magical powers together. Bardin adds a zany element to the well-leaded narrative with daffy cartoon illustrations… Hoena tucks sufficient tongue-in-cheek references into the narrative to keep older readers amused, should they happen upon the book.
So I’ve written books on football, skateboarding, and soccer. All of which are sports that I either follow or take part in. But my newest book, Heavyweight Takedown, focuses on a sport I haven’t tackled yet. And while I can’t claim to be a wrestling fanatic, it holds a soft spot in my heart. I grew up watching “profressional” wrestling. I saw live the High Flyers defeat Jesse “the Body” Ventura and Adrian Adonis. Watched the Crusher take on Baron Von Rashke. Sure, it was fake, but it was fun to watch and mimic as I wrestled around with my cousins.
In high school, my interest switched to old Kung Fu movies. But then in grad school, I studied under Terry Davis, author of the Vision Quest, a cult-classic in the wrestling world. So when offered to write a book on wrestling, I had to take on the project, partly for it’s sentimental value and partly as homage to the professor who helped guide my writing career.
Summary: Kyle is the star of his junior high wrestling team’s A squad. Not only does he win most of his matches, but he’s also the heavyweight. So when a new kid, Kenny, shows up and challenges Kyle for the heavyweight spot (and wins it), Kyle’s confidence shrinks. Now on the B squad, Kyle is frustrated. He wants his team to do well, and Kenny is a good wrestler. But Kyle also wants to be on the A squad. Can Kyle come up with a way to help his team?
Skateboard Scare, I must admit, was based off of an incident I had late last summer. I took a spill on my skateboard, and along with the typical raspberries on my knees and elbows, I sprained my wrist pretty badly. I was iffy about getting back on for months after that, and my lack of confidence actually made me a little wobbly on my board. But after another fall, in which I didn’t get hurt, I realized that accidents are just going to happen, and we can’t them hold us back from from doing what we enjoy. It’s a lesson Jess learns in Skateboard Scare.
Just received my comp. copies for the eight books in my Jess & Jaylen series. These two big-city third graders have been friends forever. They live just down the block from each other. Jess is the sporty one while Jaylen is more on the brainy side. Their love of skateboarding and hanging out at Jake’s Pizza lead to many adventures.
Brains vs Brawn: Jess and Jaylen’s friendship gets tested when they struggle to agree on summer activities they can both enjoy.
Coming Clean: Jaylen accidentally breaks his brother’s phone. He could hide what he did and let his little sister take the blame, but the guilt is eating him up.
Halloween Scream: Jaylen designs a Halloween to help him and his friends get through the scariest of all haunted houses.
Museum Mystery: On a school field trip to the museum, Jess and Jaylen try to solve the mystery of a missing camera.
School Bus Bully: A new boy moves to the neighborhood. He’s a bully and threatens to do bad things to Jaylen’s face.
Skatebaord Scare: Jess takes a spill on her skateboard, and Jaylen needs to help her get her confidence back before the skateboarding contest.
Trouble With Cheating: Jess is worried about asking Jaylen for help on her math homework, so she cheats instead. But Jaylen’s teaches her that it’s okay to ask for help.
Video Game Zombie: Jaylen gets a little too involved in the video game Jess gave him for his birthday. It’s starting to affect their friendship.
Here’s my third book in the Tony Hawk Live2Skate series. And I must admit that these books have inspired me to get back on my board. While I can’t do half of the tricks I describe in this story, the one thing I share with Lei, the main character, is that I like to use my skateboard as a fun mode of transportation. It’s often how I get back and forth to the library, to pick up research books for my latest project.
Summary: Lei and her crew know their skatepark is run down and nothing special, but its theirs and they are proud of it. So when a crew of older boys move in to claim the park as their own, Lei isn’t going to just step aside and let them. She challenges the boys to a skate off — trick for trick. Half of her crew is ready to give up the park, while the boy she’s crushing on tries to step in and come between her and trouble. Lei is determined to prove that she can skate and that she can take care of herself. Part of Tony Hawk’s Live2Skate series, Daring proves that work and determination can take you far.
Just received my comp copies of the four, all new adventures of Eek and Ack. These chapters books contain much of the same silliness that the graphic novels are known for. They are almost prequels to the graphic novels. Not only are they for a younger audience, but their adventures focus largely on events on their home planet of Gloop.
When Eek and Ack’s sister Bleck dares them to conquer Earth, they have no choice but to try. Things don’t go as planned, as they end up zapping the wrong planet!
Ack has to write a paper about black holes, and he doesn’t know a thing about them. Eek is there to show Ack all the ins and outs about these space vacuums!
Ack wants a pet, but he knows that Mom will never get him one. That’s no problem. Eek will just make him one instead!
After observing earthlings, Eek decides to build a spaceship so that he and Ack can go conquer Earth. What will happen when their ship lands in the Sudsy Duck Laundromat?
Just received author copies for my latest skateboarding book, Raw. It’s one of the initial books in the new Tony Hawk: Live 2 Skate series and also the story that prompted me to get back on a skateboard. A few too many years have passed since I used to bomb down the hill near my house on a yellow penny board.
Can’t say that I’m able to carve it up on a half pipe like Gavin, the main character, does in Raw, but my Santa Cruz Woody Shark cruiser is now how I get to and from the library.
SUMMARY: In this edition of Tony Hawk: Live to Skate, Gavin Cole is the newest student at his glitzy suburban school. From the poorer north side, Gavin doesn’t have much in common with his wealthier classmates. When he finds a few skaters, though, he wonders if they could be his new crew. Will they accept Gavin and his skills for fixing up skateboards?
My next book in the series, Rival, a story of two half brothers who compete against each other for a spot on the skate team, will be out early next year.
I just wrapped up my third book in the Live 2 Skate series, which is licensed through Tony Hawk and published by Stone Arch Books. The working title is Bombing, as the main character, Lei Tían, is a longboarder. She wants to impress upon her friends that longboarding is just as respectable as trick skating, even if she can’t Ollie. So she bombs down a steep street know as “The Hill” and breaks into a powerslide at the bottom to wow her friend.
To celebrate the completion of this book, I decided to hit a skatepark myself. I bought a cruiser (a hybrid between a trick board and a longboard) earlier this summer to get back and forth between the library and to help wear out my pooch, Ty. She loves breaking out into a full on run and pulling me along as I carve behind her somewhat like a waterskier. But I have never been to a skatepark before to actually skate.
So here I am, prepping for my first drop in. Even though I’ve watched videos on how to do this simple move, I ended up on my butt the first (and second) try. And while I didn’t do any tricks beyond some kickturns and riding over rollers, I still had a blast, and will try it again sometime—after my wounds heal.
Just received my copies of Zombified, book 9 (written by your truly) of the Tony Hawk’s 900 Revolution series, which was released earlier this spring.
It may be hard to think about skateboarding here in Minnesota with the April showers coming as snow. But this story also has zombies!
Summary: Once more beset by visions, Omar finds himself trapped inside one. The world he sees is vastly different than the one he left. In this post-apocalyptic vision, the Collective has defeated the Revolution. In their absence, the disbanded Revolution has been replaced by a group of tribes that skate in their honor. Omar searches for his friends, for the meaning behind this horrific vision, and for a way out!
Treasure Island — cover color study
Here’s a color study of the cover for my adaptation of Robert Louis Stevenson’s classic Treasure Island. Elizabeth Hurley (not to be confused with the famous actress/model) is illustrating it. She also worked on the cover for my Perseus adaptation.
In the background floats the Hispaniola, with the Jolly Roger flying from her topmast. And in the foreground, Jim and Long John are being confronted by pirates. I can’t really say much more about this scene (or why I picked it) without giving away too much of the story. Let’s just say, it works perfectly with some of the choices the reader has to make.
The writing is almost done, and then the book will be released this fall. So stay tuned . . .