Illinois State Library

Illinois Center for the Book

Individual Author Record

General Information

Name:  James W. Bennett  

Pen Name: James Bennett

Genre: Fiction

Born: 1942 in Piatt County, Illinois

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Illinois Connection

Bennett lived in Canton, Monticello and Bloomington, Illinois as a child. He graduated from Illinois Wesleyan University, Bloomington, Illinois with his BA and Illinois State University in Normal, Illinois with a MA. He once taught at Black Hawk Jr. College in Moline, Illinois and he currently resides in Normal, Illinois.

Biographical and Professional Information

James W. Bennett is the author of a number of uncompromising, challenging novels for teens. The books have earned him recognition as one of the nation's leading nevelists for young adults. Bennett's fiction, often revolving around sports themes, has been used successfully as a curriculum choice in schools. Bennett has worked as a teacher of creative writing at a community college until 1976 and as an aide to high school-aged mentally handicapped students in Bloomington, Illinois, 1983-95. He was a writer-in-residence for Illinois secondary schools. His book ''The Squared Circle'' is considered by many to be the finest basketball novel ever written.

Published Works

  • A Quiet Desperation, Thomas Nelson, 1983
  • I Can Hear the Mourning Dove, Houghton Mifflin, 1990
  • Dakota Dream, Scholastic, 1994
  • The Squared Circle, Scholastic, 1995
  • The Flex of the Thumb, Pin Oaks Press, 1996
  • Blue Star Rapture, Scholastic, 1997
  • Plunking Reggie Jackson, Simon and Schuster, 2001
  • Old Hoss, McFarland, 2002
  • Faith Wish, Holiday House, 2003
  • Harry Porter Does Dallas, 2004
  • How the Bible was Built, 2005

Selected Titles At Your Library

The squared circle /
ISBN: 0590486721. OCLC Number:

Scholastic,. New York :. ©2002.

Sonny, a university freshman and star basketball player, finds that the pressures of college life, NCAA competition, and an unsettling relationship with his feminist cousin bring up painful memories that he must face before he can decide what is important in his life.

The flex of the thumb /
ISBN: 0965103080. OCLC Number:

Pin Oak Press,. Springfield, IL :. ©1996.

Vano is the best pitcher baseball has ever seen: can you imagine a 115MPH fastball? Every major league team is recruiting him. The Athletics are the highest bidders. But when Jose Canseco's bat hits Vano in the head, his priorities change. He is knocked into the world of HOOOMMM, becoming an astral traveler.

Blue Star rapture /
ISBN: 0689841507. OCLC Number:

Aladdin Paperbacks,. New York :. 2001, ©1998.

While attending a high-profile basketball camp, T.J. begins to re-think both his motivations and his actions in guiding his learning-disabled but athletically-gifted friend through the college recruitment process.

Plunking Reggie Jackson /
ISBN: 0689831374. OCLC Number:

Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers,. New York :. 2001.

High school baseball star Coley Burke tries to deal with an ankle injury, back spasms, a pregnant girlfriend, academic failure, pressure from his father, and the legacy of his dead older brother.

Old Hoss :
ISBN: 0786413212. OCLC Number:

McFarland & Co.,. Jefferson, N.C. :. ©2002.

Faith wish /
ISBN: 0823417786. OCLC Number:

Holiday House,. New York :. ©2003.

Upset with the course her life has taken, pretty and popular senior Anne-Marie is drawn to the leader of a cult-like Christian group, becomes pregnant, and runs away to figure out what the Lord wants her to do with her life.

How the Bible was built /
ISBN: 0802829430. OCLC Number:

W.B. Eerdmans Pub.,. Grand Rapids, Mich. :. ©2005.

"The Bible continues to be the world's runaway best-seller. But very few people could say just how its seemingly disparate jumble of writings - stories, letters, poems, collections of laws, religious visions - got there.


  • "1995's Finest YA Novel" citation, Voice of Youth Advocates, 1996, for
  • The Squared Circle

  • James was honored at the 2004 Illinois Authors Book Fair sponsored by the Illinois Center for the Book and the Illinois State Library in Springfield, Illinois.

    Speaking Engagements

    Speaking Engagement Availability: Yes, contact publisher:

    c/o Author Mail

    Holiday House

    425 Madison Avenue

    New York, NY, 10017