Books

 

For “Jigsaw Jones” titles, please click here, as those books deserve their own page! A lot of exciting things happening with this series — with eight classic titles coming back into print — and a new book due out in August of 2017, The Case from Outer Space.

 

Here is a sketch by R.W. Alley, intended for the interior of the new Jigsaw Jones title, THE CASE FROM OUTER SPACE.

Here is a sketch by R.W. Alley, intended for the interior of the new Jigsaw Jones title, THE CASE FROM OUTER SPACE.

 

COMING IN OCTOBER, 2017!

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ADRIAN LAZARUS has met with a curious fate. He’s returned from the dead (after a bad bike accident, no helmet), yet not a lot has changed. He still has to attend middle school. Adrian has always been something of a misfit. But it’s not just being a zombie that makes Adrian feel like an outcast. He notices the world has changed, too: bees are vanishing, forest fires are burning, seas are rising, super-flus are spreading. Even so, the holographic advertisements in the night sky assure people that all is well. But Adrian and his friends –- a beekeeping boy, a mysterious new girl who just might see into the future, and Talal, a seventh-grade sleuth –- aren’t convinced. When they discover a birdlike drone has been spying on Adrian, the clues lead to two shadowy corporate billionaires. What could they possibly want with Adrian?

PUB DETAILS: Macmillan, October, 2017, Ages 10-up.

 

PUBLISHED SEPTEMBER, 2016!

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THE COURAGE TEST

2016 JUNIOR LIBRARY GUILD SELECTION

A father-and-son journey along the Lewis and Clark Trail — from Fort Mandan to the shining sea — offers readers a genre-bending blend of American history, thrilling action, and personal discovery.

“A middle grade winner to hand to fans of history, adventure, and family drama..”School Library Journal.

“Preller traverses both domestic drama and adventure story with equally sure footing, delivering the thrills of a whitewater rafting accident and a mama bear encounter, and shifting effortlessly to the revelation of Mom’s illness and the now urgent rapprochement between Dad and Will. Whatever young explorers look for on their literary road trips, they’ll find it here. — Elizabeth Bush, The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books.

Preller stirs doses of American history into a first-rate road trip that does traditional double-duty as plot device and coming-of-age metaphor. Will is initially baffled and furious at being abruptly forced to accompany his divorced father, a history professor, on a long journey retracing much of the trail of Lewis and Clark. The trip soon becomes an adventure, though, because as the wonders of the great outdoors work their old magic on Will’s disposition, his father and a Nez Perce friend (who turns out to be a Brooklyn banker) fill him in on the Corps of Discovery’s encounters with nature and native peoples. Also, along with helping a young runaway find a new home, Will survives a meeting with a bear and a spill into dangerous rapids — tests of courage that will help him weather the bad news that awaits him at home.”—Booklist, Starred Review

 

 THE FALL, Hardcover

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THE FALL, Paperback

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PUBLISHED IN PAPERBACK, SEPTEMBER 2016!

 “Readers will put this puzzle together, eager to see whether Sam ultimately accepts his role in Morgan’s death, and wanting to see the whole story of what one person could have, and should have, done for Morgan. Pair this with Jay Asher’s Thirteen Reasons Why (2007).” — Booklist.

“Told through journal entries, Preller’s latest novel expertly captures the protagonist’s voice, complete with all of its sarcasm, indifference, and, at the same time, genuine remorse.” — School Library Journal.

“With its timely, important message and engaging prose style, Sam’s journal ought to find a large readership.” (Fiction. 10-16) — Kirkus.

 “It was 2:55 am as I finally gave up on the notion of sleep.  Having started reading THE FALL by James Preller earlier in the day, I knew sleep would not come until I had finished Sam’s story.  Now, having turned the last page, it still haunts me and will for quite some time.”Guys Lit Wire.

“I didn’t realize the emotional impact this book had on me until the very last sentence when it brought tears to my eyes. This was a heartbreaking and beautiful story about friendship, bullying, and the aftermath of all of it.” — Expresso Reads.

NOMINATED FOR THE SAKURA MEDAL IN JAPAN!

LISTED BY YALSA AS A “QUICK PICK” FOR RELUCTANT YOUNG ADULT READERS at 2017 ALA MIDWINTER MEETING!

 

BYSTANDER

2009 JUNIOR LIBRARY GUILD SELECTION

“Preller has perfectly nailed the middle school milieu, and his characters are well developed with authentic voices. The novel has a parablelike quality, steeped in a moral lesson, yet not ploddingly didactic. The action moves quickly, keeping readers engaged. The ending is realistic: there’s no strong resolution, no punishment or forgiveness. Focusing on the large majority of young people who stand by mutely and therefore complicitly, this must-read book is a great discussion starter that pairs well with a Holocaust unit.” —School Library Journal, Starred Review.

“Preller displays a keen awareness of the complicated and often-conflicting instincts to fit in, find friends, and do the right thing. Although there are no pat answers, the message (that a bystander is hardly better than an instigator) is clear, and Preller’s well-shaped characters, strong writing, and realistic treatment of middle-school life deliver it cleanly.” — Booklist.

“Expertly written and rich on multiple levels, “Bystander” weaves a realistic tale of the bully, the bully’s targets and the physical and emotional pain that the victims suffer. It explores what might happen when someone decides to no longer be a bystander and to do something about the bully’s behavior.” — Kendal Rautzhan, Nationally Syndicated Columnist

“Bullying is a topic that never lacks for interest, and here Preller concentrates on the kids who try to ignore or accommodate a bully to keep themselves safe . Victim David’s pain is evident from the first moment newcomer Eric sees him, but he tries not to acknowledge the reality before him. His mother is trying for a fresh start in this Long Island community, as his father has succumbed to schizophrenia and left her and their two boys on their own. Griffin, the bullying instigator, has charisma of sorts; he is a leader and yet suffers under his father’s bullying and aggression. For Eric to do the right thing is neither easy nor what he first wants to do, and the way he finds support among his classmates is shown in logical and believable small steps. Eminently discussable as a middle-school read-aloud, the narrative offers minimal subplots to detract from the theme. The role of girls is downplayed, except for classmate Mary, who is essential to the resolution, enhancing appeal across gender lines. (Fiction. 11-14)” — Kirkus.

“Plenty of kids will see themselves in these pages, making for painful, if important, reading.”— Publishers Weekly.

“Should be required reading for students in middle school or just getting ready to enter middle school.” — Literate Lives.

 

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SIX INNINGS

2009 ALA CHILDREN’S NOTABLE BOOK

2009 BANK STREET COLLEGE BEST CHILDREN’S BOOKS OF THE YEAR

2008 TOP 100 BEST BOOKS FOR READING AND SHARING — New York Public Library.

2008 TOP TEN BEST SPORTS BOOKS OF THE YEAR — Booklist.

If Judy Blume could write a book about Little League, about its players’ deepest fears and secret dreams, it might come out something like this.”—Publishers Weekly, Starred Review

A magnificent championship game between two Little League teams that is as much about the players as the plays.”—Booklist, Starred Review

“It was Six Innings that made a baseball lover out of me.” — New York Times Book Review.

A tale of baseball, friendship, growth, and coming to terms with hardships, this fast read will grasp any reader who enjoys sports.”–School Library Journal

 

THE “SCARY TALES” SERIES!

In this series of books, each story is completely different, a new setting with new characters, yet each one promises a “Scary Tales” experience. What attracted me to this over-arching structure, inspired by the old “Twilight Zone” TV series, was the width of possibility. The stories could be quite different, not at all narrow or typical. After writing a few that were quite conceptual — I Scream, You Scream andNightmareland, in particular — I settled on simpler, more traditional thrills in the most recent stories: The One-Eyed Doll and Swamp Monster.

 

“Finally, thrillers for younger readers! SCARY TALES is a wonderfully creepy introduction to a gripping, ghostly genre” — Patty Norman, Copperfield’s Books.

“We need more scary stories for young kids. This series looks PERFECT!” — Franki Sibberson, teacher, Dublin City Schools, Ohio.

Scary Tales #1: HOME SWEET HORROR

Welcome to the new home of the Finn family. Don’t be afraid. Come, step inside. But be warned, this old house only seems empty. Because thanks to a harmless children’s game, Bloody Mary just might make an appearance in a mirror near you. Careful now, she scratches. Any questions, just ask. This old house is dying to talk.  “Preller (the Jigsaw Jones mysteries) serves up gasp-worthy scenes and chilling twists in this illustrated chapter book that launches the Scary Tales series….Just enough chills to keep burgeoning readers flipping pages.”– Publishers Weekly. Published July 2013.

2013 Cybil Award Winner!

“This little page-turner could become a campfire classic!” — Cybils.

“The thrills and chills are delightfully spine-tingling in this truly terrifying tale. A great choice for reluctant readers.” – School Library Journal.

Scary Tales #2: I SCREAM, YOU SCREAM

Enter the world of Samantha Carver, an ordinary kid who loves amusement parks, the smell of popcorn, and the terror of a heart-pounding ride. Sam’s got a ticket in her pocket for a very special ride. This ticket will send Sam and her new friend, Andy, on a most unusual adventure — and leave them screaming for their lives. So come along, take a seat. Buckle up, nice and tight. It’s sure to be a bumpy ride.

 

Scary Tales #3: GOOD NIGHT, ZOMBIE

In the gathering dark of autumn twilight, three 5th-grade students enter a near-empty elementary school. They hustle to fetch forgotten things: books, assignments, basketball sneakers. They will soon be trapped inside — doors chained, locked shut. In the basement, a mysterious night janitor waits. And outside, moving in the mist, dark shapes shuffle closer, ever closer.

Scary Tales #4: NIGHTMARELAND

“The latest spine tingler in Preller’s spooky chapter book series is sure to inspire a few chills. In this tale, a boy receives a new video game called Nightmareland. It warns users to “Enter at Your Own Risk,” a challenge that Aaron likes. He soons finds himself entangled in a world that seems like so much more than a mere game. Some genuinely creepy moments make this ideal for readers who can’t get enough “Goosebumps” and Alvin Schwarz tales.” — School Library Journal.

Scary Tales #5: The One-Eyed Doll

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Scary Tales #6: Swamp Monster

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Click right here for a glimpse behind-the-scenes about Swamp Monster. It’s a pretty good writing lesson too, if you want to read it that way.

Oh, hey, check out this trailer:

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BEFORE YOU GO

“Preller makes us care about these people. We wonder about them after they’re gone.” — The New York Times Book Review.

“A summer of love and loss nearly derails a teenage boy . . . . The author strikes the right tone in capturing Jude’s inner struggles with grief, angst and love as he tries to come to grips with the direction his life has taken.” Kirkus Reviews.

“For an older audience than Bystander (2009), Preller’s latest takes on intense issues of love, friendship, and haunting sorrow . . . The realistic workplace scenes and the fast, wry, contemporary dialogue will hook readers, as will the moving drama of grief and guilt.” -– Booklist. 

A PIRATE’S GUIDE TO FIRST GRADE

2010 CHILDREN’S BOOK-OF-THE-MONTH CLUB SELECTION.

“Told entirely in pirate lingo, this story follows a boy and his entourage of ethereal salty dogs through the first day of school. ‘Me great scurvy dog slurped me kisser when I was tryin’ t’ get me winks!’ The protagonist’s fruitful imagination turns ordinary routine into a high-seas adventure complete with a small, skirted buccaneer walking the plank during recess. In the end, where does X mark the spot? Treasure abounds in the library, with the chance to experience the adventure of the written word. The illustrations have a vintage feel, complete with boisterous grog-drinking, scabbard-waving, and bubble-pipe-smoking pirates. The combination of the muted tones of the pirates with the bold colors of the real world adds to the visual appeal . . . it can serve as a tremendous read-aloud, especially on Talk Like a Pirate Day.”—School Library Journal, Starred Review

“Preller’s buoyant pirate-inflected storytelling and Ruth’s illustrations, which have a decidedly vintage flair, form an exuberant tribute to imagination and a spirit of adventure.”Publishers Weekly, Starred Review

“Pirate-addled readers will dance a jig; press-ganged kids will be happy for the glossary. Good fun, me hearties.”Kirkus Reviews.

“Young children who love pirates—and parents who might relish reading aloud with swashbuckling gusto—are going to find “A Pirate’s Guide to First Grade” just their cup of grog.”The Wall Street Journal.

“Young would-be buccaneers facing their own first-day jitters will enjoy this droll title, which ends with a cheer for libraries. A great choice for sharing on September 19, International Talk Like a Pirate Day.” Booklist.


A PIRATE’S GUIDE TO RECESS

“I can’t think of another book that portrays so beautifully (text plus illustration) what imaginative play at recess looks and feels like. Spot on perfect.” — A Year of Reading.

“Preller and Ruth transform a school playground into a swashbuckling adventure featuring two rival captains—Red (from the previous book) and fearsome Molly. Their respective pirate crews are again rendered in pencil, creating a ghostly effect, and their surly theatrics will pull readers through this nautical fantasy. “Don’t scowl so, sweet Red!” Molly tells Red after his crew mutinies. “We’re just having a little yo ho ho.” Preller and Ruth put kids at the helm as they communicate the joy of escaping into a world of pretend.” — Publisher’s WeeklyStarred Review.

 

JUSTIN FISHER DECLARES WAR

At Spiro Agnew Elementary, the fifth graders rule the school. And class clown Justin Fisher rules them all. Or, at least, he did. Justin has always been the funniest kid in school. But this year, his new teacher isn’t amused. And when Justin gets in trouble with Mr. Tripp over and over, the other kids turn on him, too. No one wants to be friends with the class troublemaker. But Justin Fisher isn’t going down without a fight.

“This quiet, universal story about a regular kid acting out who just needs a hand will make a good classroom read. Preller handles sensitive issues with dignity, and kids will identify with Justin’s eagerness to be liked and his snarky jokes. The book will be a particular hit with fans of Lenore Look’s Alvin Ho and Jerry Spinelli’s Maniac Magee.”School Library Journal.

“The short chapters also make Justin Fisher Declares War! a friendly read for more reluctant readers. A delightful addition to the world of humorous middle grade fiction.”Young Adult Books Central.

“If I were in the classroom this year, this would probably be my first read aloud. The first read aloud has always been key and the choice is always a hard one but there are so man reasons that JUSTIN FISHER DECLARES WAR would make a great first read aloud.” — Franki Sibberson, A Year of Reading.

“I think boys will relate to Justin and enjoy laughing along with his misadventures. Coming in under 150 pages, with short chapters and a fast-paced story, Justin Fisher Declares War is a great transitional book for boys.”Pipedreaming.

“A great suggestion for fans of Andrew Clements or Dan Gutman.”The Happy Nappy Bookseller.

“Every class has a Justin, and at some point, every class begins to object to the disruption caused by a chronic goof-off.  Preller’s novel offers excellent read-a-loud potential with ample opportunity for discussion about behavior and its consequences.  I’ll definitely be recommending this one to both students and teachers in middle grade classrooms.”Reading Junky’s Reading Roost.

MIGHTY CASEY

“Set against ample white space, Cordell’s endearingly geeky kids take center stage (mid-game distractions include tree-climbing, a bee sting and a bathroom break on the left field fence). It’s hard to envision a reader who won’t take to these underdogs. Ages 4–8.” Publishers Weekly.

“When the score is tied, and bases are loaded, Casey comes up to bat. Does this sound familiar? The ink and watercolor drawings vary in size and are full of energy and movement as the players engage in different activities. The faces are expressive and fun to look at. This is a great baseball book for all those T-ball and Little League players out there.”School Library Journal.

“With engaging read-aloud rhythms and a misfit cast young children will cheer for, this story is assured a place in (Little League) baseball lore.”Booklist.

 


ALONG CAME SPIDER

2008 TOP 100 BEST BOOKS FOR READING AND SHARING — New York Public Library.

“I think that all adults in education, as well as students, need to read this book because it gives a thoughtful, insightful look into the minds of children like Trey . . . Thanks to James Preller for such a wonderful, thought-provoking story! ” — Literature Lives.

Preller adeptly portrays the psychological and social dynamics of this age group, and Trey is realistic and sympathetic as a misfit.” Kirkus.

“The lifelong friendship between two fifth graders—one with a mild spectrum disorder—hits the rocks but emerges intact in this perceptive tale from the author of Six Innings (2008). Feeling conflicted but wanting to fit in better with his classmates at Spiro T. Agnew Elementary, Robert (nicknamed Spider) uncomfortably tries to put some distance between himself and his buddy Trey, whose obsessions, lack of sensitivity to social cues, and general clumsiness have resulted in a reputation for being “out there.” — Booklist.

A fascinating joy to read with excellent readability and flow!” — Alan Online.

WAKE ME IN SPRING

HICCUPS FOR ELEPHANT

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GHOST CAT AND OTHER SPOOKY TALES

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THE  BIG BOOK OF PICTURE-BOOK AUTHORS & ILLUSTRATORS

31 comments

  1. jenny .o says:

    you will be caning to lyme central school.

  2. Mrs.tedford says:

    how many books have you wote

  3. jennifer.o says:

    i like, the case of the missing hamster,and I Scream, You Scream! i like them.

  4. Mihan Bandara says:

    I love baseball your awsome

  5. tessa says:

    I love baseball to you shod make more scary tales books thank you so much.

  6. Paul Martell says:

    I recently found my childhood copy of “MAXX TRAX” and read it to my 5 year old son, who sat wide eyed through the entire book. Just wanted to say thanks… For him, and for me. Looks like it will be our new bed time story book for a while.

    • jimmy says:

      Wow, Maxx Trax. That book sold a million copies and, since it was my first book, I wrote it for a flat fee. That is, no royalties. I still do really like that story.

  7. Judy Newman says:

    Hello, I am Jeff Newman’s]Mother Judy. I understand you had an interview with Jeff some time ago relative to his book published in August of 2016 “Can One Balloon Fly An Elephant?
    I would love to read the write-up you had regarding that interview if I may. Thank you. Judy Newman

    • jimmy says:

      Judy, hi. I’ll write to you privately in the event you don’t get this response. But you can use the SEARCH function on the site to find the interview with Jeff. You raised him up real good!

  8. Aurora says:

    Dear Mr. Preller,
    I just wanted to say that I loved your powerful book, “Bystander”, and the amazing message it portrays. It had an intriguing story line that kept me wanting more and you still managed

  9. gabe says:

    Dear Mr.preller Where you ever a bystander. from Gabe.

  10. Eve McDougall says:

    Dear Mr. Preller,

    First of all I would just like to say that I enjoyed your book “Bystander” a lot.I was wondering if you had a certain inspiration for this book? Did any of these events happen to you? Or people that you know?
    Once again I loved your book. Thank you for your time.

  11. Micah says:

    Dear Mr. Preller,

    How did you create the character of Cody in Bystander? His personality really intrigued
    me and how he and some others where split almost between being friends
    with Eric and being friends with Griffin.

    Sincerely,
    Micah

  12. Luca Merelle says:

    Dear Mr. Preller
    I just finished Bystander and think it’s amazing. But I have a few questions. First of all what gave you the inspiration to write Bystander? Why did you think writing about bullying might be a good idea and last but not least. why have the characters that you chose for the book and their personalities?

    sincerely Luca Merelle

  13. Aurora says:

    Dear Mr. Preller,
    I just wanted to say that I loved your powerful book, “Bystander”, and the amazing message it portrays. It had an intriguing story line that kept me wanting more but you still managed to intertwine an important and serious issue. Thank you for taking the time to write a book that helps to clarify what it really means to be a bystander.
    Sincerely,
    Aurora Smedvig

  14. Julia Rhind says:

    Dear Mr. Preller,
    I have thoroughly enjoyed your book “Bystander.” A bystander plays a huge role in what the bully does, without a audience a bully is really nothing. Bullying is such a problem is schools so it is so cool that you have addressed this problem. Your book has really helped me understand bullying more as well as how not to be a bystander. Your book also teaches us to report things and the difference between tattling and reporting. What is you inspiration for this book? Do you know anyone who has been through a situation like Eric’s? You book is very entertaining and I think everyone should read it.
    Thank you so much for amazing book,
    Julia C.Y. Rhind

    • jimmy says:

      Julia, I liked that word “entertaining,” that’s what I was going for. I mean, I’m glad that you took away new insights into the dynamic of bullying — and that was part of my intent — but I also very much wanted to write a good, lively story.

  15. Caroline Palmer says:

    This is such an amazing book, I really enjoyed reading it Mr.Preller. I only have one question, why didn’t you make a second book? I like the book as just one but I can help but wonder why you didn’t make a second. -Caroline

  16. Logan Corkins says:

    Dear Mr. Preller thank you for making Eric and Griffin and all the other character over the top and the book bystander is one of the best books i have ever read. to that i say thank you.

    logan corkins

  17. Nick Zanin says:

    Hi Mr. Preller, my name is Nick. I read your book and I loved it! I really like how you formed the book with Eric and Griffin. Personally I think you did a awesome job on the book! Great work!

  18. Sam Cybulski says:

    Dear Mr. Preller,

    Thank you for making this book so powerful. This book was empowering to me and all of my friends. Eric’s character was very, very inspiring because he went above and beyond to become one of Griffin’s friend, but Eric decided that he wasn’t going to be a bully. It was scary when Eric was in Griffin’s house and left his shoes there. Keep up with the good work.

    Sincerely,
    Sam

  19. Cassidy Kenney says:

    Dear Mr. Preller, I really liked your book Bystander. I especially like the quote “Time passed, because that’s what time does, It’s a river that keeps pushing forward.” I like this quote because it reminds me of life and how similar life is compared to a river. Rivers have many rocks, in life the rocks represent the troubles in life.

    From, Cassidy Kenney

  20. hailey says:

    Mr. Preller,
    I’m wondering if you based Mary on a specific person in your life.
    This is one of the greatest books I have ever read about bullying and I think you should make a second book about Eric’s dad.
    Keep up the great work,
    Hailey

  21. Paige Szymanski says:

    Dear Mr. Preller, Did your story connect with you or other people? Can you connect with your book? Do you think David Hallenback still wants to be apart of Griffin’s group?
    -Paige

  22. Cate Bennett says:

    The book was really amazing. It made me think about how easy it is to be a bully and how easy it is not to be one. Its hard to know when you are being a bully until you are. I can’t help but wonder why there isn’t a second book? It was so good I want to know what happens next.

  23. Ava Gamberoni says:

    Dear Mr. Preller,
    I would like to tell you how much I enjoyed your book, “Bystander”. You made the characters really come to life. You were able to make my heart start beating out of my chest when I was reading. You made me feel what the other characters felt. You made the book not only pull me in but also teach me a lesson. A lesson that a lot of people need to learn. The part when Eric was beaten up made me cry. For some people this actually happens. The book was written so well. The words all made it come to life. You wrote it in a way that when I put it down at night I would lay in bed and think about it. I want you to know that your book has truly changed the way I think.
    Sincerely,
    Ava Gamberoni

  24. Alyssa Potvin says:

    Dear Mr. Preller,

    Your book “Bystander” was outstanding! I loved everything about it. It had me on the edge of my seat, especially when Eric sneaked into Griffin’s house, I was getting so nervous I actually fell off my desk chair. The characters personalities really made the book the best it could possibly be. This book made me think about so many things, for example, what a bystander and bully really are and what a true friend really is. There were some nights that I emailed Mrs. Kanz asking her if I could read the next chapter. Out of all the many books I have read, this one has defiantly been my favorite!
    Sincerely,
    Alyssa Potvin
    P.S. What happens next?

  25. Maria Adams says:

    Dear Mr. Preller,

    your book Bystander was an incredible story. The main characters Eric and Griffin really reminded me of my life as a 7th grader. I could not stop reading! (if it wasn’t for my teacher Mrs. Kanz, I would’ve read the whole book in one day.) This book is by far my favorite book I’ve ever read! Great job.

    – Maria.

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