& Whiteside, 2009
Justin Martin is almost fifteen and is already a high school baseball star. Life seems good. All he needs is a bike so he can get home from baseball practice. To get money for a bike, Justin sells Little Billy, one of the family’s beloved baby goats. And that’s where things begin to get complicated. Justin’s brother and sister find out that Mr. Grimsted, the new owner, is horribly mistreating Little Billy. Will Justin break the law to save the poor animal? As if that’s not enough of a problem, his father, a race car mechanic who walked out on the family four years earlier, is back and inviting Justin to join him as he travels from one super speedway to the next. An adventure for sure! But what about his hopes for a career in pro ball? And what about Little Billy?
placed on the 2007 VOYA's Top Shelf Fiction for Middle School
Named Cooperative Children's Book Centre 2008 Best Books for Kids & Teens List
Included in On-Resource Link 2008 Year's Best Recommended Reading List
KIRKUS, April 1, 2007. In this sequel to Lost Goat Lane, the endearing Martin family returns with the focus on 14-year-old Justin. The first freshman selected to the varsity baseball team in 20 years, Justin must keep good grades, make it to after-school practice and help his single-parent mom, who supports three kids. Things go awry when Justin sells his pet goat, Little Billy, to buy a bike, but discovers the new owner mistreats him. Then Justin’s long-lost father, Charlie, materializes in a red sports car eager to lure Justin into his fast-lane lifestyle as a race-car mechanic. Meanwhile, Justin, his siblings and neighborhood pals pull-off a daring “goatnapping,” hiding Little Billy in an abandoned barn. Distracted by Charlie and Little Billy, Justin’s grades and baseball practices begin to deteriorate, jeopardizing his place on the team. Should Justin follow Charlie’s mercurial footsteps or stick it out at home? With some team effort from family and friends, Justin makes up his own mind. The goatnappers’ amusing antics and Justin’s challenging choices make this a good read for middle-graders.
Interview With Author
Q: How did you become interested in writing as a profession?
A: I began writing because I am easily bored, and because I like stories; thus it was natural to avoid boredom by making up stories. Also, it cost almost nothing, needing only a pencil and paper. I did not consider writing as a profession until I became an adult. I did it just for fun. I still do it just for fun.
Q: Has your perception of being a writer changed since you became a published author?
A: No. Writing is what I do. Publishing is what other people do. Publishing is like somebody else putting icing on a cake I baked. I like the sweet taste of getting a book published, but I enjoy more the part I get to do. I used to think I wasn’t a “real writer” if I hadn’t been published. Then I realized that a “real writer” is somebody who writes, just like a real skier is somebody who skis.
Q: How did it feel to see your work adapted to film?
A: Thrilling and annoying. Thrilling because a movie is larger than life, and it’s like seeing your characters come to life. Annoying because some of the characters do not look like they did in your imagination. Also, when a writer’s work is turned into a movie, the moviemakers can change anything they please and often do, whether you like it or not. They can put words in the characters’ mouths that you know they would never say. They can even change the title. Book publishers are more respectful, and don’t change anything without the author’s permission.
Q: How has your world travel influenced your writing?
A: It has helped me understand, on a very deep level, how much more alike people are than different. But it has also taught me that you have to work at getting past the differences, because that’s usually what you notice first.
Q: What do you hope readers will come away with after reading Lost Goat Lane and The Goatnappers?
First, that everybody has problems, including kids, and often the
adults in the kids’ lives don’t know about their problems or
don’t know how to help, so the kids are pretty much on their own
trying to solve them. Which is okay because kids, if they are smart
about it, can solve their own problems. Second, it’s a lot easier
for everybody, kids and adults, to work together and help each other.
Third, people who are very different, maybe much younger or much
older, or from a poor family or a different culture, can also become
good friends we can trust if we take time to get to know them and
treat them with respect, and do not put them down just because they