Books by Dan Elish

THE SCHOOL FOR THE INSANELY GIFTED by Dan Elish
CHILDREN'S
Released: June 21, 2011

"Confused readers will wish that the author had spent a lot more time fitting together the random and extraneous elements here. (Fantasy. 10-12)"
From the author of Attack of the Frozen Woodchucks (2008) comes an equally surreal cyber-caper loosely attached to an incoherent story line. Read full book review >
13 by Jason Robert Brown
CHILDREN'S
Released: July 1, 2008

"No one said becoming a man was easy," Rabbi Weiner tells Evan Goldman during preparations for his Bar Mitzvah. But Evan, recently relocated to Appleton, Ind., from New York in the wake of his parents' split, just wants to "fit in with the people who fit in." He even manages the feat, for a while at least, hanging with the star quarterback and the prettiest girls instead of the distinctly less-cool alternatives, nerdy Patrice and disabled Archie. As Evan has a conscience and friends and adults helping him on the way to manhood, however, his enticing brush with coolness in his new school is short-lived. This tale of middle-school peer culture is familiar but handled especially well in this tie-in to the musical, which opened in Los Angeles last year. The pace is quick, the humor broad and the life lessons spelled out clearly. By the end, Evan's Bar Mitzvah has gone well, a sign that he is leaving the "mishegoss" about being cool and popular behind him. (Fiction. 10-14)Read full book review >
THE MISADVENTURES OF JUSTIN HEARNFELD by Dan Elish
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: April 1, 2008

"A light, comic take on a rite of passage."
Good-bye, Mr. Chips meets Portnoy's Complaint meets The 40-Year-Old Virgin in contemporary Manhattan. Read full book review >
THE ATTACK OF THE FROZEN WOODCHUCKS by Dan Elish
ANIMALS
Released: Feb. 1, 2008

Ten-year-old Jimmy Weathers is used to his lawyer-by-day, children's-book-author-by-night father telling tall tales about the animals in his unpublished books. Then after insisting he saw a giant frozen woodchuck in Central Park, his father disappears. The police are unhelpful. Jimmy knows it is up to him and his best friend William H. Taft the Fifth (great-great-great-great-nephew of the fattest president) to save Dad and, of course, the world. In what becomes an interstellar quest and a battle against giant chucks riding space Vikings, they enlist the help of Janice, an outcast genius in their class, and Jimmy's two-and-a-half-year-old sister Imogene, a mechanical prodigy. Elish's first for middle-graders is a foolishly fun mix of the movie Flight of the Navigator and M.T. Anderson's Whales on Stilts (2005). Some humor about suicide scales up the age appropriateness to a level at which readers may find the candy-based galaxy a bit juvenile, but libraries in search of lightly sarcastic, fantastic fare will be happy with this and likely sequels. Final art not seen. (Fantasy. 10-12)Read full book review >
NINE WIVES by Dan Elish
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: Aug. 3, 2005

"A light comedic debut that's all too familiar for the genre."
Daydreams of that perfect someone, a romantic wedding and a better job: sounds like another chick-lit summer read, but this time our heroine is a he. Read full book review >
CHILDREN'S
Released: March 1, 2001

Elish (The Trail of Tears, not reviewed, etc.) deftly delivers the humorous side of the horrible—that's eighth-grade life—told as a modern-day fairytale overflowing with adolescent hormones. Matt Greene, an affluent New York City boy who attends private school, has been best friends with Keith Livingston since they were little kids. Keith is everything Matt longs to be: tall, athletic, irresistible to girls, and extremely handsome. It's enough to make Matt, who at five foot one and a half has never had a girlfriend, feel darned inferior. Finally, after a series of events during which Keith completely outshines his best friend, Matt's J.Q. or "Jealousy Quotient" is so high that he screams into the night, wishing Keith ill. A homeless man overhears Matt and warns him, "Wishes that strong can come true." And much to Matt's surprise, then remorseful horror, Keith starts fouling out on all fronts, causing Matt to worry that somehow, through the vehicle of the homeless man, he's responsible. At the same time, Matt's life unexpectedly improves, a welcome—yet guilt-inducing—turn of affairs. Elish perfectly captures the psychological rawness of eighth grade—the agony of picking the right chair to sit on during a date, the dreadful cracking soprano voice that emerges at precisely the wrong moment—lessening the sting by making the reader chuckle with recognition. This pop novel has no great lessons to impart and will be read and enjoyed without many afterthoughts. Still, it's consistently amusing, fast-paced, and fun. (Fiction. 11-13)Read full book review >
THE GREAT SQUIRREL UPRISING by Dan Elish
ANIMALS
Released: March 1, 1992

Tired of the humans' rudeness and their trash, Scruff the squirrel mounts an uprising in N.Y.C.'s Central Park beginning when, to the humans' astonishment, a line of squirrels successfully blocks traffic at one entrance. Nearly captured by the police, Scruff is rescued by ten-year-old Sally March, who is taken with the squirrels' efforts. Believing that Sally could aid their cause, Scruff's comrade, Franklin the pigeon, tries to communicate through her with words torn from a newspaper by his bookish friend Mort, a mouse. An absolute purist, Scruff refuses to have anything to do with humans; still, time and again, Sally comes to the animals' aid. She even comes up with the key to their success: country birds are recruited to line the walls bounding the park, blocking all human access. It's also Sally who mediates the final resolution to the standoff, saving the animals from physical harm as the humans try to reopen the park, and finally gaining Scruff's grudging respect. Populated with endearing, well-developed characters, this light, entertaining story will appeal even to reluctant readers. Particularly engaging are Scruff, who suffers from Napoleonic tendencies, and Franklin, a practical pigeon who loves classical music. Cazet's cartoony illustrations warmly extend the humor. (Fiction. 9+) Read full book review >