Monday, October 27, 2008

Hi Lo Reading Level Books for Boys

When I began writing action-adventures and mysteries for kids, I was particularly interested in making sure that my books would reach boys…especially reluctant readers.

There is a category in literature called Hi Lo Reading Level. My books have been identified as fitting the description of Hi Lo.

A well respected site,, has written about two of my books, in an effort to alert parents who have sons with various reading difficulties. Those pages are located at:

Mountain Cabin Mystery

North Woods Poachers

In addition to these two books, I also have published Secret of Abbott’s Cave, Big Rig Rustlers, and Legend of the White Wolf.

Then, in September, Darby Creek Publishing released a sports anthology, Lay Ups and Long Shots. My short story, Big Foot, is included in this book and shares the pages with children's authors Joseph Bruchac, Terry Trueman, David Lubar, Dorian Cirrone, CS Perryess, Jamie McEwan, and Peggy Duffy.

And, Lay ups and Long Shots is a Junior Library Guild selection, so you are likely to find it in your local library. Lay Ups and Long Shots can be found on or in bookstores like Barnes and Noble, Borders, and others.

Max Elliot Anderson

Author web page

50 Pages of Reviews

Thursday, October 23, 2008 Hi Lo Reading Level Book by Max Elliot Anderson

These two articles, on discuss reluctant readers, and review two of my action-adventures and mysteries written especially for tween boys, that girl readers hate to put down too.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Black Squirrel

My books for boys are action-adventures & mysteries. I don’t necessarily write books about animals, although there are often animals in my stories. You would find dogs, horses, cats, wolves, and others, even though mine are primarily people stories.

But I do like animals.

As a young boy, you might find a wild rabbit I’d caught, birds, a chipmunk or two, a tame squirrel…we even had a skunk living at my house. I was always fascinated with squirrels which were plentiful in the oak trees in the woods that surrounded our house. I even caught and tamed a couple of them. (Now there are more rules about that, but not when I was kid)

Here, where I live in Illinois, my back yard has only had red and gray squirrels for the 30+ years we’ve been in this house. But for some reason, my favorite has always been the black squirrel. I’d see them as I traveled to other areas of the country, but never in the region where I live…until this year.

Seemingly, from out of nowhere, a single black squirrel has arrived, and decided to make my back yard its home. I’ve enjoyed watching him gather acorns alongside the red squirrels and gray squirrels.

Who knows, I might just have to work him in to one of my future books.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Why I Write Tween Books for Boys...that girls like to read too!

It is clear that some of the most critical patterns for a lifetime are decided during the tween years. This is that awkward time between still trying to be a “little kid” and being all grown up.
As a child, I grew up as a reluctant reader. In a family of seven children, I wasn’t especially pushed to read, so I never formed good reading habits. This was ironic because my father has published over 70 books. A number of these were written for children.

A few years ago I decided to look into some of the reasons for my lack of interest in reading. My findings lead me to begin writing chapter adventure books, for readers 8 - 13, that I would have liked as a child. My books are highly visual, with lots of humor, dialog, and plenty of heart-pounding action. Early responses from children indicate that I’m right on target. Reluctant and avid readers now devour each new title as it is released. Parents are also vocal in their appreciation for books that are reaching their children.

Marketing executives will tell you to find a need and fill it. But this isn’t exactly the way I got started. How that came about is a story in itself. My purpose was to craft books that would excite the interest of reluctant readers.

After a detailed study into why I didn’t like to read, and looking at books that were written for children, I set out to write the kind of stories I would have read when I was a child.
A further target audience I wanted to write for was boys who might be without a positive male role model in their lives. I felt that if I could tell a good story, the moral, ethical, responsibility elements could then be planted in their minds. Hopefully, at some time in the future, those concepts would be useful when these boys became men. I have a degree in psychology and this helps in communicating these concepts, and understanding my audience.

The biggest surprise, outside of the fact that reluctant reader boys love these books, is that avid boy readers, girls, and even adults do too. I believe it’s our responsibility to do everything we can for the next generation, to leave this world a better place than when we found it. I hope my books will have a small part in that process.

The first seven books are NEWSPAPER CAPER, TERROR AT WOLF LAKE, NORTH WOODS POACHERS, MOUNTAIN CABIN MYSTERY, BIG RIG RUSTLERS, THE SECRET OF ABBOTT’S CAVE, and LEGEND OF THE WHITE WOLF. But this is not a “series” in the traditional sense. Each book takes place in a different part of the country with different characters, setting, and plot. Readers and reviewers have likened my books to The Hardy Boys, modern day Tom Sawyer & Huck Finn, Nancy Drew, Star Wars, Tom Swift and Scooby-Doo, Lemony Snicket, and adventure author Jack London.

When I first began writing, I decided that if I could help one reluctant tween to become a reader, it would be worth it. From the emails and letters I have already received, that goal has been reached many times over. I received the following email right after Christmas. It underscores the effect that my books are already having on tweeners.

“I gave my son (11) a couple of your books for Christmas (he read "Northwoods Poachers" when you asked for some "reviews" and loved it). He is definitely a reluctant reader...I have to be on his case constantly to get him to read. When he opened the package I could tell he was not too thrilled with getting books...until he saw that you wrote them. ‘Oh, these are THAT guys books...thanks, Mom!’ Later in the day I mentioned to him that I expected him to read the books. He said ‘You don't have to tell me that, Mom...I want to read them!’ As a mom who is almost never without a book in her hand, it really warmed my heart to see him excited about reading! Thanks, Max! And please, keep them coming!”
My books are distributed nationally to bookstores by Baker & Taylor, and are
available online at Each book has been ranked by Accelerated Reader.

Newest book: LAY UPS and LONG SHOTS, published by Darby Creek Publishing - A junior Library Guild selection.

Biography: Max Elliot Anderson

Max Elliot Anderson grew up as a reluctant reader. After surveying the market, he sense the need for action-adventures and mysteries for readers 8 – 13, especially boys.

Using his extensive experience in the production of motion pictures, videos, and television commercials, Mr. Anderson brings the same visual excitement and heart-pounding action to his stories. Each book has completely different characters, setting, and plot.

Seven books are published, with an additional twenty-seven manuscripts completed. Young readers have reported that reading one of his books is like being in an exciting or scary movie.

Additional information can be found at,
nearly 50 pages of reviews,

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Home Education Magazine & new book, Lay Ups & Long Shots

Here's a page about Lay Ups and Long Shots posted today. Home Education Magazine reaches 50,000+ readers six times per year. This is their online blog. They've been very supportive of my previous books for tween boys.


Thursday, October 02, 2008

Where do you get your ideas?

A question I often hear is, “Where do ideas come from for your books for boys?”

For me, ideas come from current events, technology developments, my own childhood, reading the newspaper or magazines, the Internet, and my experiences from years of film, television, video, and TV commercial productions.

The black and white picture here, is from a dramatic film that I shot, many years ago, in Wyoming. We spent a few weeks in and around a gigantic ranch. As I prepared to write BIG RIG RUSTLERS, it was those images and impressions that began to flood my mind.

Though my book, and the film have completely different stories and characters, it was the setting that provided the canvas in my mind.

BIG RIG RUSTLERS is a modern day western. Todd and Amanda live with their parents in a Midwestern city. The children are invited to visit their uncle, aunt, and cousin Drew, on their Wyoming ranch over spring break. Todd learns, in a unique way, why stealing is wrong. He decides to choose a new path for his life because of his uncle’s example. A band of high-tech cattle rustlers are caught, revealing that Todd was also wrong about Travis, a shadowy character.

Read about the round up, rattlesnake, and rustlers.

Why Books For Boys Need To Be Different

Here's a link to an article by Troy L Parish from his Boys Behavior blog. It's called ARE BOYS and GIRLS DIFFERENT? This is not just opinion, but contains results from scientific study

My books for boys are written primarily for tween boys, but girls like the books too.

Max Elliot Anderson