Books by J.B. Cheaney

I DON'T KNOW HOW THE STORY ENDS by J.B. Cheaney
CHILDREN'S
Released: Oct. 6, 2015

"Impressive on all fronts. (Historical fiction. 8-12)"
The early days of cinema change a young girl's perspective on war. Read full book review >
SOMEBODY ON THIS BUS IS GOING TO BE FAMOUS by J.B. Cheaney
CHILDREN'S
Released: Sept. 1, 2014

"Cheaney effectively combines multiple layers of mystery with an uplifting message about resilience. (Mystery. 10-14)"
An intriguing mystery, a cataclysmic storm and a school bus accident converge with extraordinary results. Read full book review >
THE MIDDLE OF SOMEWHERE by J.B. Cheaney
FAMILY AND GROWING UP
Released: May 8, 2007

Ronnie takes care of her ADHD little brother, Gee, with more responsibility than usual for a 13-year-old, while developing her own philosophy from a self-help book. Opportunity for a summer vacation emerges when Ronnie's grandfather arrives at their Missouri home in a brand new RV and a business plan to travel through Kansas for some "wind prospecting." Mom seizes the chance to recuperate from a broken ankle and convinces Pops to take the children for two weeks. But traveling with an older, quirky loner not used to children proves to be less of a vacation and more of a thrill ride with some alarming moments for all three. Gee's overactive exuberance and impulsive behavior are quite a challenge for Ronnie, left to babysit at each campsite while Pops is out working. Quoting from her book, Ronnie tries to keep a positive outlook, but when Gee disappears to follow a carnival performer, and her grandfather gets hurt in a motorcycle accident, things get a bit serious, if not intriguing, before they are neatly resolved. While Cheaney provides plenty of "oh-my-gosh" scenarios with Gee's escapades, the story, as the trip, tends to drag on a bit until the climactic conclusion, despite the crafty, descriptive first-person narrative. (Fiction. 12-14)Read full book review >
MY FRIEND THE ENEMY by J.B. Cheaney
CHILDREN'S
Released: July 12, 2005

War is a complicated thing for 11-year-old Hazel Anderson. Everyone knew how Mr. Erickson's nephew Sam had a rough time in a Japanese prisoner of war camp, and now her friend Jed, who's been like a big brother to her, is missing in action, perhaps imprisoned or dead. Her new friend Sogoji has been sent to a Japanese internment camp, and her new teacher, the community's own war hero, has turned out to be a deserter on the lam. Hazel comes to realize so many things are beyond her control, but perhaps there's room in the world for someone willing to act kindly, to be a friend who can hope for Sogoji's return to a more welcoming community. Hazel stands up for her friend when many in her community do not, willing to make her name Mud in order to do what's right. This powerful work deftly explores how war affects a community, when the identity of friend, enemy and hero is sometimes difficult to discern. Fans of Cheaney's Elizabethan thrillers The Playmaker (2000) and The True Prince (2004) will find this equally compelling. (author's note) (Fiction. 10-14)Read full book review >
THE TRUE PRINCE by J.B. Cheaney
BIOGRAPHY
Released: Oct. 8, 2002

A new Robin Hood rides in London, robbing gentlemen, humiliating rivals in Elizabeth's Court, and threatening the reputation of Shakespeare's theater. When actors end up dead or missing, the theater company—already seen as unsavory by many—stands to be further shamed. It's a thrilling story of cutpurses, highwaymen, murder, intrigue, and eventually the midnight dismantling of the Burbages' Theater. In the middle of all of this is young Richard Malory, apprentice in The Lord Hunsdon's Men. Kit Glover, his fellow apprentice, is suspected of being an accomplice to thieves, and Richard puts his life on the line to find the truth. In the meantime, the shows must go on and readers are treated to many details of Elizabethan theater: boys playing female characters, the staging of battle scenes, the midsummer plague season, Shakespeare's rivals, and the behavior of theater audiences. At its heart, this is about how the theater thrives and "how a good play is like life," and fittingly, the language of the story sparkles. "Spoken words, things of shaped and polished air that flash but once, then flicker away" are the currency of Shakespeare's plays and of Cheaney's prose. This lively second novel in the author's Shakespearean drama (The Playmaker, 2000) is a fine addition to the growing body of literature about Shakespeare's world, including Susan Cooper's King of Shadows and Gary L. Blackwood's The Shakespeare Stealer. (map, cast of characters, historical note) (Fiction. 10+)Read full book review >
THE PLAYMAKER by J.B. Cheaney
CHILDREN'S
Released: Sept. 1, 2000

In a mystery set in Elizabethan London, 14-year-old Richard Malory joins Shakespeare's theater company and discovers a Catholic plot against the queen. When his mother dies, Richard travels to London to search for his long-absent father. As he struggles to survive he falls into acting with the Lord Chamberlain's Players and learns that he has real talent. He also learns that his father has been involved in a dangerous conspiracy that leads to the torture and beheading of those whom the Queen's agents can catch. The double plotlines of the conspiracy and of Richard's development as an actor illuminate two interesting aspects of Elizabethan history. The political intrigue points to the passions then prevalent against Catholics, and the lively view from inside Shakespeare's theater demonstrates the excitement and tensions experienced by the actors. Cheaney manages dialogue that rings true to the times, as does his richly flavored writing style. Altogether, the suspense and historical details add up to a spirited introduction to one of the most fascinating periods in history. The book includes a "prologue" and a historical note that discuss the basic history of the period, with a map of Elizabethan London. It might be read as a companion to Gary Blackwood's The Shakespeare Stealer (1998). (Fiction. 11-13)Read full book review >