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James W. Bennett

Born: 1942 in Piatt County, Illinois
Pen Name: James Bennett

Connection to Illinois: 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.

Biography: 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.

  • -- "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.

Primary Literary Genre(s): Fiction

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Selected Titles

A Quiet Desperation :
ISBN: 1504013921 OCLC: 909854547

Open Road Distribution, Newburyport, United States : 2015.

A Quiet Desperation is the straightforward autobiographical account of one man's disturbing journey through disabling mental illness and into the Community of Faith. This is a book that has provided help for many who have suffered psychiatric disorders, bringing hope without easy answers.

Blue Star rapture /
ISBN: 0689841507 OCLC: 46484572

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.

  Blue Star Rapture.
ISBN: 1322977550 OCLC: 903675099

Open Road Media Teen & Tween, 2015.

A high school junior fights to protect his best friend from the dark side of college athletics Tyron has finally shed his baby fat, and he & rsquo;s starting to look like a star. He moves with grace on the basketball court, showing the brilliance that eludes him everywhere else. He has the talent to win himself a college scholarship that could change his life & mdash;but he might not be strong enough academically to take full advantage of it. His best friend, T.J., is committed to making sure Tyron doesn & rsquo;t squander his shot at an education. A basketball player himself, he has none of Tyron & rsquo;s talent, but he & rsquo;s smart enough to look out for his friend. At a one-week summer basketball camp, Tyron is overwhelmed by scouts, sportswriters, and recruiters. To keep Tyron out of trouble, T.J. will have to move quicker than he ever has on the court.

  Dakota Dream.
ISBN: 132297750X OCLC: 903675296

Open Road Media Teen & Tween, 2015.

An ALA Best Book for Young Adults: To fulfill his destiny, a teenage boy takes refuge on an Indian reservation Ever since he can remember, Floyd Rayfield has wanted to be a Native American. Abandoned by his family and raised in foster care, Floyd has never had a sense of who he was meant to be until the night he has the dream. He sees himself as a warrior of the Sioux Indians and knows that it is his destiny to make the dream come true. He dyes his hair black, instructs his teachers to call him Charly Black Crow, and learns everything he can about the people he admires so much. When the society he has rejected pushes back, Floyd has no other option but to run. He takes refuge on the sprawling Pine Ridge Reservation. Living among actual Native Americans, Floyd learns more about their way of life than he could ever have imagined. By getting in touch with someone else & rsquo;s identity, he hopes finally to discover his own.

Faith wish /
ISBN: 0823417786 OCLC: 50560705

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.

  Faith Wish.
ISBN: 1322977534 OCLC: 903675005

Open Road Media Teen & Tween, 2015.

A teenage girl is drawn to a Christian preacher who could save her soul & mdash;or destroy her life Anne-Marie has gone to church her whole life, but until she sets foot in the revival tent, she has never felt the power of faith. She goes to watch Brother Jackson preach not because she & rsquo;s interested in what he has to say, but to accompany a friend who has a crush on one of the boys in the congregation. But when this handsome, charismatic preacher takes the stage, Anne-Marie feels herself swept up in the moment. He speaks to his flock, and she answers as though she were one of them. She feels the love of Christ, and she wants to feel more. Anne-Marie & rsquo;s newfound faith draws her into the orbit of Brother Jackson, who is not the kindhearted man he appears to be. To escape with her soul intact, Anne-Marie will have to confront a kind of evil she never dreamed possible.

  Flex of the Thumb.
ISBN: 1322977569 OCLC: 903675106

Open Road Media Teen & Tween, 2015.

Struck by a flying bat, a high school pitcher becomes a completely different person in this hilarious story of sports and growing up The boy on the mound is Vano Lucas, and he may be the greatest pitcher the world has ever seen. He can throw a fastball 115 miles per hour, and that means wealth, stardom, and a spot in the Hall of Fame. His father wants him to bypass college and go straight to the majors, where a $15 million signing bonus is waiting for him, but Vano has started feeling as though something is nudging him away from the baseball diamond & mdash;and everything he has ever known. During a major-league tryout, Vano gets hit in the head by a flying bat. When he opens his eyes, he finds that he has no interest in the game. He feels cosmic vibrations pulling him toward college, where he will step off the pitcher & rsquo;s mound and onto the astral plane.

How the Bible was built /
ISBN: 0802829430 OCLC: 61461863

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.

  I Can Hear the Mourning Dove.
ISBN: 1322977577 OCLC: 903675184

Open Road Media Teen & Tween, 2015.

An ALA Best Book for Young Adults: A teenage girl fights to overcome depression with help from a rebellious friend Outside her window, Grace hears a dove. The birdsong reminds her that there is a world outside her hospital room, that life is not always as confusing as it seems. It & rsquo;s a reminder she needs badly, because Grace & rsquo;s life has gotten pretty scrambled lately. After her father died, her world dissolved into blackness and she tried to find her way out with a razor blade. She survived and was treated with electroshock therapy, which only left her more mixed up than before. Now she is in a kinder place, trying to put herself back together, but aside from the dove outside her window, she cannot be sure what is real. Sometimes Grace hears her father & rsquo;s voice speaking to her. Sometimes she can & rsquo;t tell whether she is sleeping or awake. But Grace is a fighter, and with a little help, she will unscramble herself & mdash;no matter how long it takes.

Old Hoss :
ISBN: 0786413212 OCLC: 49225303

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

Old Hoss :
ISBN: 150401393X OCLC: 909854548

Open Road Distribution, Newburyport, United States : 2015.

Charles Radbourn won fifty-nine games in 1884, the stuff of legends. In eleven years he racked up over three hundred wins and forty-five hundred innings--mind-blowing numbers. And yet the facts of this Hall of Famer's play are more credible than the stories of his life of alcohol, womanizing, wild brawling, and, later, the ravages of syphilis. Radbourn's plaque at Cooperstown presents an image that is almost caricature: cap set forward, mouth open, mustache pricked up at the ends and thick as his nose is long, nearly. Not Charles, but Ol' Hoss. It is now May 1941, and the invented Chicago Tribune journalist John Trapp is on a train for Bloomington, Illinois, to cover ceremonies honoring the late Radbourn. Trapp meets (the real) baseballer Clark Griffith, who begins to tell him tales of the great pitcher. Our authors then have Trapp craft the first biography of the man, anchoring the details of his life in fact.

Plunking Reggie Jackson /
ISBN: 0689831374 OCLC: 45463666

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.

  Plunking Reggie Jackson.
ISBN: 1322977542 OCLC: 903675251

Open Road Media Teen & Tween, 2015.

His brother dead, a baseball star struggles to fill his footsteps Coley Burke & rsquo;s brother, Patrick, taught him how to throw a baseball, how to get girls, and how to keep their overbearing father off his back. Everything came easily to Patrick, whose natural talent on the baseball diamond had him set up for a career in the major leagues & mdash;right until the drunk-driving accident that ended his life. With Patrick gone, Coley is lost. His grades are slipping, and if he doesn & rsquo;t get them back up, he won & rsquo;t be allowed to play baseball this season. No baseball means no scholarship, and no scholarship means he will never play in the majors. For Coley & rsquo;s father, that kind of failure is unacceptable. As the pressure overwhelms him, Coley looks for a way out. With his girlfriend, Bree, by his side, he runs away from home. Coley has the potential to be a great ballplayer & mdash;but first he & rsquo;ll have to learn who he is off the diamond.

  Squared Circle.
ISBN: 1322977518 OCLC: 903675242

Open Road Media Teen & Tween, 2015.

Sonny lives for basketball, and if he & rsquo;s not careful, he might die for it Sonny Youngblood stands in the darkened fraternity house, a pledge bracing for another round of hazing. As he watches his fellow freshmen endure humiliation, Sonny & rsquo;s mind is elsewhere. He & rsquo;s not thinking about school, or women, or the relief that will come when the hazing is through. In his mind, Sonny is on the basketball court & mdash;the only place where things have ever made sense. A high school all-American, Sonny was talented enough to win a scholarship to play for the legendary program at Southern Illinois University. But when the season starts, he will learn this legend is built on lies. Beyond the glare of the courtside lights lies a corrupt administration that treats its unpaid athletes like cattle. All Sonny wants to do is play, but he & rsquo;s getting played instead.

  The flex of the thumb /
ISBN: 0965103080 OCLC: 34971723

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.

The squared circle /
ISBN: 0590486721 OCLC: 48842676

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.