I just happened to read two books set in Kansas this last week. Both were very entertaining. Both at one level were sports stories. But both also had much more going for them, such as humor . . .
The first, Airball, My Life in Briefs (Roaring Brook Press, 2005) gives us the voice of Kirby Nickel loud and clear. Kirby's town loves basketball so much they are the self proclaimed Baseball Capital of Kansas. Kirby loves the sport, too. However, he can't play and definitely doesn't want to humiliate himself by trying. But when the 7th grade team will get the chance to meet homegrown celebrity 6 foot 9 inch NBA start Brett McGrew, Kirby has to go out for the team. Author LD Harkrader had me both laughing and identifying with her main character and his struggles. Hope to see more books by Lisa soon. Check out her website at http://www.ldharkrader.com/
The second, out of patience (Delacourte, 2006) by Brian Meehl reminds me a lot of Holes by Louis Sacher. I suppose it's a combination of the humor and the back and forth between the present and the past and how what happened then affects now. It's a story about friends and family, a small town, and what you believe. In this case, 12 year old Jake Waters definitely believes in the curse--the one that says the Plunger (as in toilet) of Destiny returning to Patience will be the beginning of the final destruction of the town. The arrival of the dreaded artifact means there won't even be a seventh game in the KSF Workup Baseball World Series. As you read, you'll learn about a variety of "head bonks" as well as the Waters' men's philosophy, "when in doubt, don't move."Read about Brian at http://www.randomhouse.com/kids/catalog/author.pperl?authorid=61826