My Books

Click on each book jacket for ordering information.  And for my latest, I Don’t Know How the Story Ends, go here.

Somebody On This Bus Is Going To Be Famous

Nine kids, nine stories, and one big mystery-but which one is going to be famous??


Reading level: ages 10 and up.

Study Guide for Somebody on The Bus

Are you wondering what the characters look like?  Click here and guess who’s who!

BONUS CHAPTER! Are you wondering what happens to Bender, Shelly, and the whole crew after you’ve turned the last page? Click below to find out. But first, try to guess where you think they’ll be, then see how close you are to guessing right.

Somebody on This Bus Bonus Chapter


The Middle of Somewhere

I describe The Middle of Somewhere as “the heartwarming story of an ambitious girl, her hyperactive brother, their eccentric grandfather, a paranoid dog, and the road trip from hell.”  Join Ronnie, Gee, Pop and a colorful cast of hangers-on for a tour of the Land of Ah’s!

Reading Level: Ages 9-up

  • “Our Favorite Things,” Family Fun Magazine, May 2007
  • Washington Post “KidsPost” Book of the Week, August 2007
  • BookBuzz (MO Press Association) Book of the Month, August 2007
  • Kansas Notable Book, 2009
  • Nominated for the 2008-09 Texas Bluebonnet Award
  • Nominated for the 2008 Cybil Award, Middle-grade fiction category
  • Nominated for the 2009-2010 Florida Sunshine State Young Reader Award
  • Nominated for the 2010-2011 Indiana Young Hoosier award


My Friend, the Enemy

Hazel Anderson’s fondest wish is to spot an enemy plane or evidence of sabotage, alert the authorities, and get a medal pinned on her by President Roosevelt. But the War has been going on for three years already and all she’s seen from her lookout over Hood River Valley, Oregon, is life on the home front going on as usual. Until the day she finds the Japanese message tangled in the brush. All of a sudden the war leaps to her own back yard, leading her to an unlikely friendship that will test all her ideas about patriotism and loyalty.

Reading level: ages 10- up

Study Guide for My Friend the Enemy

  • “2005 Ten Best Books For Young Readers,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch
  • Finalist for the 2005 PEN Center award in Juvenile/Young-adult Fiction
  • Scholastic Book Club selection, Winter 2007

My Friend the Enemy is a masterful novel about WW2. I was born and raised in Oregon, where the story takes place, and J. B. Cheaney taught me things about my beautiful state I didn’t know. I could not put the book down. I wish I had written it.”

–Roland Smith, author (Peak, Cryptid Hunters, I, Q)


The Playmaker

Richard Malory, age 14, journeys to London in the age of Good Queen Bess to seek his fortune. To his own astonishment, he lands a position in the Lord Chamberlain’s Men, the city’s premiere acting company. While struggling to learn his new craft, he becomes aware that someone is very anxious to see the last of him. While trying to unravel the mystery, Richard is drawn into a web of suspense, intrigue, and danger reaching into the court of Queen Elizabeth herself.

Reading level: ages 12 and up

Study guide for The Playmaker

  • “Ten Best First Novels For Young Adults, 2001” Booklist magazine
  • A New York City Public Library “2001 Best Book for the Teen Age”
  • A Bank Street College of Education “2001 Best Book”


The True Prince

Further suspense, intrigue and danger in Elizabethan London. Richard is finding his feet on the London stage, but while his star rises, the reputation of his bitterest rival, Kit Glover, is beginning to suffer. Kit is obviously hanging out with a bad crowd, but what business is that of Richard’s? Unless, perhaps, his own reputation hangs in the balance–or even his life!

Reading level: ages 12 and up

Study Guide for The True Prince

  • A New York City Public Library “2003 Best Book for the Teen Age”
  • A Bank Street College of Education “2003 Best Book”


Wordsmith – A Creative Writing Course for Young People

Anyone who’s tried to teach middle-schoolers to write has heard the mantra: “I don’t know how to start,” or, “I don’t know what to write about.” Wordsmith demolishes both these barriers, first by putting proven, accessible techniques into the writers’ hands and then showing them that they have tons of source material in their own lives. A humorous, student-friendly approach disarms reluctant writers as they work through exercises and assignments that may be a bit out of the ordinary (for instance, describe how to play your favorite board game using the most active verbs you can think of).

NOTE: Wordsmith is self-teaching, but an optional Teacher’s Guide shows home educators and tutors how to make the most of the course work.

Click here for ordering information and sample lessons!

Wordsmith: A Creative
Writing Course for Young People
(Common Sense Press, 1992; 2nd ed. 2003)