Lubar, David 1954–
Lubar, David 1954–
Born March, 1954, in Morristown, NJ; son of a naval officer and a librarian; married; children: Alison. Education: Rutgers University, B.A. (philosophy).
Home and office—Nazareth, PA. E-mail—[email protected]
Creative Computing magazine, editor, 1980-82; has also worked as a video-game designer, programmer, and translator for companies such as Activision and Atari, beginning 1982.
Garden State Teen Book Award nomination (NJ), South Carolina Young-Adult Book Award nomination, Volunteer State Book Award (TN) nomination, and Sequoyah Young-Adult Book Award nomination, and American Library Association Best Book for Young Adults designation, all 1999, all for Hidden Talents; KSRA Young-Adult Book Award, 2002, for Dunk; Michigan Thumbs Up Award, 2006, for Sleeping Freshmen Never Lie; Book Sense Pick, 2007, for True Talents.
The Unwilling Witch, Scholastic (New York, NY), 1997.
The Witch's Monkey and Other Tales ("Psychozone" series; also see below), Tor (New York, NY), 1997.
Kidzilla and Other Tales ("Psychozone" series; also see below), Tor (New York, NY), 1997.
The Wavering Werewolf, Scholastic (New York, NY), 1997.
The Vanishing Vampire, Turtleback Books (Madison, WI), 1997.
The Gloomy Ghost, Scholastic (New York, NY), 1998.
Hidden Talents, Tor (New York, NY), 1999.
Monster Road, illustrated by Eric Brace, Little Apple (New York, NY), 1999.
The Trouble with Heroes, Tor (New York, NY), 2002.
Dunk, Clarion (New York, NY), 2002.
Wizards of the Game, Philomel (New York, NY), 2003.
In the Land of the Lawn Weenies, and Other Misadventures (includes "Psychozone" stories), Starscape (New York, NY), 2003.
Flip, Tom Doherty Associates (New York, NY), 2003.
Dog Days, Darby Creek (Plain City, OH), 2004.
Invasion of the Road Weenies, and Other Warped and Creepy Tales, Starscape (New York, NY), 2005.
Sleeping Freshman Never Lie, Dutton Books (New York, NY), 2005.
Punished!, Darby Creek (Plain City, OH), 2006.
The Curse of the Campfire Weenies, and Other Warped and Creepy Tales, Tom Doherty Associates (New York, NY), 2007.
True Talents, Tom Doherty Associates (New York, NY), 2007.
(Compiler) It's Not a Bug, It's a Feature!: Computer Wit and Wisdom, Addison-Wesley (Reading, MA), 1995.
Contributor to anthologies, including Ribbiting Tales, edited by Nancy Springer; Lost and Found, edited by M. Jerry Weiss and Helen Weiss; Shattered: Stories of Children and War, edited by Jennifer Armstrong, Knopf, 2002; Soul Searching, edited by Lisa Rowe Fraustino, Simon & Schuster, 2002; Destination Unexpected, edited by Don Gallo, Candlewick, 2003; Tripping over the Lunch Lady, and Other School Stories, edited by Nancy E. Mercado, Dial, 2004; and Dreams and Visions: Fourteen Flights of Fantasy, edited by Jerry M. and Helen S. Weiss, Tom Doherty, 2006. Columnist for Voice of Youth Advocates, 2001—.
Several of Lubar's books have been adapted as audiobooks, including Sleeping Freshmen Never Lie.
As he admitted on his home page, David Lubar moved straight from life as a philosophy major at Rutgers University to life as a starving writer. He eventually landed a job as an editor for a computer magazine, and then moved on to become a video-game designer and programmer. Lubar's video games include Frogger and Frogger II for GameBoy, Fantastic Voyage and Flash Gordon for Atari 2600, and several others. However, when the company he was working for shut down,
Lubar took the opportunity to become a full-time writer, and his novels and short stories have since found a loyal audience among teen and preteen boys. "I can't think of any activity you can do by yourself that produces more joy," he told Peggy Tibbetts in an online interview for Writing World.
Lubar's novels blend humor and horror, making them particularly suitable for reluctant readers. His teen heroes often find themselves in strange circumstances: for instance, Sebastian becomes a vampire in The Vanishing Vampire; Rory finds that adults do not take children any more seriously in the afterlife in The Gloomy Ghost; and twins Thylor and Ryan get to try on the lives of several historic celebrities thanks to an alien artifact in Flip. For lovers of the short-story genre, Lubar's "Psychozone" books—Kidzilla and Other Tales and The Witch's Monkey and Other Tales—present thirty-five tales of the strange, unusual, and downright silly. While these stories are reheated and served up in In the Land of the Lawn Weenies, and Other Misadventures, more stories of the same flavor can be had in Invasion of the Road Weenies and Other Warped and Creepy Tales and The Curse of the Campfire Weenies, and Other Warped and Creepy Tales. "Lubar clearly knows what sort of icky tale kids find gross and disgusting, yet somehow cool," concluded Tim Wadham in his review of The Curse of the Vampire Weenies, and Other Warped and Creepy Tales
Lubar's young-adult novel Hidden Talents was nominated for numerous state teen literature awards. In this story, thirteen-year-old Martin arrives at Edgeview Alternative School, the last-chance spot for kids who have been thrown out of every other school around. Martin quickly makes friends with his roommate, "Torchie," a teen with a fondness for setting fires, as well as with "Lucky," a thief; "Cheater," accused of copying other students' work; and "Trash," who throws things. These so-called bad kids turn out to be good friends; meanwhile, the really bad kids, led by Lester Bloodbath, form a rival gang that threatens to put an end to the school. When Martin and company discover that they each have as-yet-uncontrolled special powers that have gotten them into trouble in the past, the boys learn how to control these powers and put them to work fighting the Bloodbath gang. In her Booklist review of Hidden Talents, Sally Estes praised Lubar's depiction of the boys' growing friendship, adding that "the dialogue is right on target." Although a Publishers Weekly critic questioned the likelihood of Martin and his friends teaming up to save their school, the reviewer nonetheless concluded that "on the whole Lubar serves up great fun, along with an insight or two for those whose powers are only too human."
Martin and his friends from Edgeview Alternative School return in True Talents, which reunites Martin, Trash, Torchie, Flinch, Cheater, and Lucky. A year older and far more in control of their special powers, the friends team up to thwart a government conspiracy involving military operative Major Bowdler's efforts to
tap into Trash's telekinesis. The author's "trademark blend of humor and suspense … and just enough gore, will be a hit" with readers, predicted Booklist critic Heather Booth, and in Kliatt Claire Rosser noted that "the chases, the captures, the escapes, the confrontations are nonstop." Predicting that True Talents will find an appreciative audience among fans of Hidden Talents, Johanna Lewis added in School Library Journal that Lubar pairs his major strengths: creating "fluid and teen-smart" prose and characters with "both depth and sparkle."
Dunk "grips readers from the very first sentence and doesn't let go until the last," exclaimed Susan Cooley in her School Library Journal review of Lubar's highly praised novel. As readers meet New Jersey teen Chad, he has become fascinated with a new tenant at his single mom's house. Malcolm is a college professor, but as his summer job he works as the somewhat abrasive clown in the dunk tank on the town's boardwalk. When he takes the job on himself, however, fifteen-year-old Chad learns that throwing his energy into creating hard-edged, insulting humor is not the only way to go. Comparing Dunk favorably to the work of popular teen writer Chris Crutcher, School Library Journal contributor Susan Cooley noted that Lubar's teen protagonist confronts
his problems and "learns valuable life lessons in a thoroughly enjoyable and convincing way." In Publishers Weekly a contributor dubbed the novel "engrossing," adding that Lubar's boardwalk setting "serves as a deft metaphor for the power and control for which adolescents hunger."
Lubar mixes his knowledge of RPG's (role-playing games) into the plot of Wizards of the Game, as readers meet eighth-grader Mercer Dickensen and his warrior-mage alter ego Sahth'dra. When Mercer suggests hosting a gaming tournament as a school fundraiser, classmate Ed starts a move to derail the project on religious grounds. While the community is soon caught up in the religious debate, Mercer has other problems: several real wizards have called upon him to help them return to their own world. Noting that "gamers and general light comedy fans will love" Lubar's two-tiered story, a Kirkus Reviews writer added that Wizards of the Game "moves along briskly to a rousing, twisty finish." In Kliatt, Paula Rorhlick concluded that the novel "combines wizardry and the real world of eighth grade in a way that is entirely believable and thought-provoking," while Booklist critic Todd Morning dubbed Mercer's "first-person narrative … breezy and funny."
The life of scrawny high schooler Scott Hudson is not disrupted by space aliens, special powers, or anything unusual in Sleeping Freshmen Never Lie. Here Lubar focuses on the life of a normal young teen who tries to balance schoolwork with personal interests and friendships—even with girls—while also dealing with the imminent birth of a new sibling. Noting the novel's value to readers confronting a move from middle school to high school, Morning wrote that Scott's humorously overblown narrative in Sleeping Freshmen Never Lie yields "plenty of amusing, accurate observations about freshman life," and School Library Journal contributor Johanna Lewis concluded that "the teen's physical and emotional tumult is as clear, familiar, and complex as high school itself." Praising Lubar's "wonderful sense of humor," Kliatt critic Paula Rohrlick called the novel "a real treat for YAs who … love literature and loathe gym," the critic adding that Sleeping Freshmen Never Lie "holds out hope that high school can not only be endured but enjoyed."
Along with his fiction writing, Lubar is also the author of "It's Not a Bug, It's a Feature!": Computer Wit and Wisdom, a collection of quotes about life with computers intended to tickle the funny bone. From literary characters such as Don Quixote, to actual people such as comedian Woody Allen, former IBM executive Thomas Watson, a seventeenth-century French philosopher, and a woman who did not realize that she could change the disk in her disk drive, Lubar shares quotes about computers that are wildly true, wildly false, and sometimes incredibly strange. "Don't expect this book to solve any bootup problems you may be having at the moment," Ron Enderland cautioned in a review for World Village. "It will, however, provide plenty of the essential lubricant of humor."
Comparing the life of a computer programmer to that of a writer, Lubar told Tibbetts: "For what it's worth, books have a longer shelf life. None of my games will be around twenty years from now. I hope it's not true of my books. Or of me, for that matter. That's the key, actually. Life is too short and uncertain. You have to follow your dreams today. If you want to write, find a way. If you have a talent, explore it. Use it. Enjoy it."
Biographical and Critical Sources
Booklist, September 15, 1999, Sally Estes, review of Hidden Talents, p. 257; September 1, 2002, Frances Bradburn, review of Dunk, p. 116; February 15, 2003, Todd Morning, review of Wizards of the Game, p. 1065; April 1, 2004, Cindy Dobrez, review of Dog Days, May 15, 2005, Todd Morning, review of Sleeping Freshmen Never Lie, p. 1652; August, 2005, Todd Morning, review of Invasion of the Road Weenies,and Other Warped and Creepy Tales, p. 2029; May 1, 2006, Gillian Engberg, review of Punished!, p. 85; March 15, 2007, Heather Booth, review of True Talents, p. 47.
Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, December, 2002, review of Dunk, p. 165; June, 2003, review of Wizards of the Game, p. 409; October, 2003, Janice Del Negro, review of Flip, p. 68; December, 2005, review of Invasion of the Road Weenies, and Other Warped and Creepy Tales, p. 192; June, 2006, Karen Coats, review of Punished!, p. 460; May, 2007, Cindy Welch, review of True Talents, p. 374.
Horn Book, November-December, 2002, Peter D. Sieruta, review of Dunk, p. 762.
Kirkus Reviews, September 1, 2002, review of Dunk, p. 1313; March 1, 2003, review of Wizards of the Game, p. 391; April 1, 2004, review of Dog Days, p. 333;
June 15, 2005, review of Sleeping Freshman Never Lie, p. 685; July 15, 2005, review of Invasion of the Road Weenies, and Other Warped and Creepy Tales, p. 792; January 15, 2007, review of True Talents, p. 76.
Kliatt, September, 2002, Paula Rohrlick, review of Dunk, p. 11; March, 2003, Paula Rohrlick, review of Wizards of the Game, p. 14; July, 2003, Paula Rohrlick, review of Flip, p. 14; September, 2003, Stacey Conrad, review of In the Land of the Lawn Weenies, and Other Misadventures, p. 26; July, 2005, Paula Rohrlick, review of Sleeping Freshmen Never Lie, p. 13; March, 2007, Claire Rosser, review of True Talents, p. 16.
Publishers Weekly, October 6, 1997, review of The Unwilling Witch, p. 50; June 28, 1999, review of Hidden Talents, p. 80; September 23, 2002, review of Dunk, p. 74; March 31, 2003, review of Wizards of the Game, p. 68; July 14, 2003, review of Flip, p. 77; May 24, 2004, review of Dog Days, p. 63.
School Library Journal, November, 1999, Kelly P. Kingrey, review of Hidden Talents, p. 161; August, 2002, Susan Cooley, review of Dunk, p. 193; March, 2003, Susan L. Roger, review of Wizards of the Game, p. 235; August, 2003, Steven Engelfried, review of Flip, p. 162; May, 2004, Kristina Aaronson, review of Dog Days, p. 118; July, 2005, Johanna Lewis, review of Sleeping Freshmen Never Lie, p. 105; September, 2005, Walter Minkel, review of Invasion of the Road Weenies, and Other Warped and Creepy Tales, p. 206; May, 2006, Elaine E. Knight, review of Punished, p. 92; April, 2007, Johanna Lewis, review of True Talents, p. 142; December, 2007, Tim Wadham, review of The Curse of the Campfire Weenies, and Other Warped and Creepy Tales, p. 135.
Voice of Youth Advocates, October, 2002, review of Dunk, p. 281; April, 2003, review of Wizards of the Game, p. 66; August, 2003, review of Flip, p. 238; June, 2005, Rollie Welch, review of Sleeping Freshmen Never Lie, p. 134; October, 2005, review of Invasion of the Road Weenies, and Other Warped and Creepy Tales, p. 324; June, 2007, Rebecca Moore, review of True Talents, p. 164.
David Lubar Home Page,http://www.davidlubar.com (June 4, 2008).
David Lubar Web log,http://davidlubar.livejournal.com/ (July 15, 2008).
World Village Web site,http://www.worldvillage.com/ (June 8, 2008), Ron Enderland, review of It's Not a Bug, It's a Feature!
Writing World Web site,http://www.writing-world.com/ (February 12, 2002), Peggy Tibbetts, interview with Lubar.