Tonganoxie author wins book award

Lisa Harkrader began by writing short stories, hoping merely to get published. Now the author’s work is part of Kansas history.

Harkrader’s children’s novel, “Airball: My Life in Briefs,” was selected as one of two winners of the William Allen White Children’s Book Awards, presented by Emporia State University.

“Airball,” which was published in 2005, follows athletically challenged seventh-grader Kirby Nickel as he tries to prove that an NBA star and KU basketball legend named Brett McGrew is his father. The book was selected by sixth- through eighth-graders in Kansas. New York author Ann Martin was the winner in the third- through fifth-grade category.

More than 50,000 students in the state voted on the awards, which were first distributed in 1952.

“I think a lot of the kids who voted for it were excited because the book is set in Kansas, and they know the author is from Kansas,” said Harkrader, a Tonganoxie native, whose pen name is L.D. Harkrader.

“Airball” has won numerous awards, but this one is special, especially since Harkrader remembers voting for the award when she was a child.

“What’s really exciting is that I grew up in Kansas, and these are the books I grew up voting on,” she said.

Harkrader has written a dozen books, including several ghostwritten for the science fiction series “Animorphs.”

Harkrader and Martin will receive their awards in Emporia on Oct. 4.