A link to the first official book prize nomination for Odd Ball.

The 2011 Bolen Books Children’s Book Prize Shortlist | Victoria Book Prize Society

Official shortlisting for the 2011  Victoria Book Prize Award.

http://www.victoriabookprizes.ca/winners-finalists/bolen-books-childrens-book-prize

 

A link to the first official review of Odd Ball.

 

http://www.umanitoba.ca/cm/vol17/no39/oddball.html

AJ Stewart Media Bio

Arthur John “Jack” Stewart is a Canadian writer born in 1951 in Selkirk, Manitoba and currently residing in Victoria, British Columbia. His first young adult novel, Odd Ball, was published in Spring of 2011 by Saskatoon-based Thistledown Press. Stewart is currently on a cross-Canada tour promoting the release. A life-long resident of Winnipeg, Stewart worked at St. Andrews’ Control Tower as an air traffic controller for most of his career before retiring and making the move to Vancouver Island to pursue a second career as an author. Within a few years of retiring, Stewart had a contract from Thistledown for Odd Ball. Always a writer-on-the-side, Stewart freelanced as a young man for the Winnipeg Tribune, the Winnipeg Free Press and the Winnipeg Sun. His prize-winning short fiction has appeared in the Winnipeg Sun and in Island Writer Magazine. In 1991, his radio play, Bad Rabbit Winter, placed second in CBC’s Playwriting Competition and was produced on CBC Radio One. In 2000, Stewart wrote, produced, and directed the hockey-focused play, My Father Was a Rover, for the Winnipeg Fringe Festival. As readers of Odd Ball will note, this combination of sports and literature informs much of Stewart’s work. A life-long athlete, Stewart moved from playing to coaching hockey, baseball, and basketball as his own children became involved in their school teams. Knowing how much a good coach would have meant to him as a young athlete, the author has pursued his commitment to coaching and mentoring high school and middle school sports into the present, in both Winnipeg and Victoria. These experiences have inspired his turn towards writing young adult literature with a focus both on athletics and the perennially fraught politics of fitting into the school system. As Odd Ball suggests, even in a country like Canada that celebrates diversity, being different is never easy. In Odd Ball, readers are introduced to an interwoven group of middle school students who each experience the pains and trials of being different in their own way. At the heart the story is Jobbi, a Latvian boy with very little English and even fewer friends, trying to survive the year at Central Middle School. With his family on the run from a past that hardly seems more threatening than the school bullies, Jobbi must rely on his own unique abilities in order to find a place for himself – both on the hockey team, and in the volatile social order of the school’s hallways and stairwells. As misunderstanding and infighting threaten to tear Central Middle School apart, Jobbi and a small group of brave students risk everything to throw a dance that could save the school, or destroy it. As the dance approaches, fast-paced hockey games, violence in the halls, and trouble at home that stretches from Canadian trailer parks to Latvian townships, coalesce into an unforgettable tale of struggle and redemption. “Clearly any fiction story involving a Canadian middle school, using realistic characters, could not be told without recognizing the trials and tribulations of the immigrant experience,” Stewart says of his choice to focus on the story of a Latvian family. “Throughout my years of coaching, I’ve witnessed the drama and courage of that experience enough times to pen many stories.” The author is currently at work on his second young adult novel, which tackles the dangerous world of high school football.