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32 full-color pages plus suggestions for teachers

Hardback List Price $14.95    

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Discount to school address $5

Paperback List Price $11.95

Discount $2

Discount to school address $5

The Checker Players

by Alan Venable, pictures by Byron Barton 

A Win-Win Winner

“A story that will delight young children.” —School Library Journal

“Intelligence and humor…. It has that rare substance.” —New York Times Book Review

 “Charm and sense.” —New York Magazine

“Barton’s sketches nicely capture the humor in this elementary lesson that two can do better than one.” —Publisher’s Weekly

“Charm and Sense” —New York Magazine

 “Barton’s sketches nicely capture the humor in this elementary lesson that two can do better than one.” —Publisher’s Weekly

Two Veteran New York State Teachers Say

The Checker Players is a classroom essential, the perfect book for children of all ages. Reading it in September, when friendships are forming and teamwork is being encouraged, sets the stage for cooperation and goodwill throughout the school year. If ever a book promoted tolerance and fair play, this is it. 

 “Competing at a game of checkers, two comical characters find their budding friendship at stake. How they resolve their differences provides a springboard for endless discussions about the value of respect and compromise.

“Over the years, we’ve used the book in many creative ways.  We use it to frame situations in which the students could get along better: ‘What did the carpenter do to solve his problem? The tinker?’ ‘Can you two work out your differences like they did?’  ‘How can we use the example of The Checker Players to solve problems in our families, our neighborhoods, our world?’

“Our students analyze its story structure and character description, and discover the author’s uses of humor which flows throughout the book. To predict the ending, the children may draw their own versions of the tinker’s and carpenter’s boats, then discuss how these differences would affect the story’s outcome. The Checker Players also lends itself well to reader’s theatre, as well as creative dramatics and script-writing. From this model of creative writing, students are always inspired and their writing improves accordingly.”

 Mary Fessenden & Ruth Rath


Hardback with jacket, 32 full-color pages

List Price $11.95

Discount $2

Discount to school address $5


Nutty to Meet You! Dr. Peanut Book #1

by Alan Venable, pictures by Natalie Lewellyn

As the peanuts’ peanutrician, Dr. Peanut leads a pleasant life until he ventures out into a peanut-eating world. Out there, he needs to travel in disguise. Costumed as an ant one afternoon, he barely escapes a squirrel and is scooped up by two hungry kids. Laughing at the learned doctor’s ingenious arguments for why they shouldn’t eat him, the amused children tell him not to worry, “We don’t eat anything that talks!”

Medical centers use this book to reassure children that doctors are friendly. The story also reminds little people to speak up!  This book makes a great primer for the six-story chapter book Don’t Eat Dr. Peanut, which children will enjoy reading together or to themselves in their early elementary years.

 “Peanuts don’t talk…or do they? A charming story of friendship from the perspective of one Dr. Peanut [who] encounters giants (human children) who…may turn him into a quick snack. But he is delightfully surprised…. Cute drawings.”  — Reviewer’s Choice, Children’s Bookwatch, Midwest Book Review

“Delightfully nonsensical, this tale of a peanut doctor…will suit every child and adult who appreciates the absurd.  Much of the charm of the book is the advice he gives to his young friends, boy and girl, who are wise enough to question some of his conclusions.  What civilized conversations they have! The illustrations admirably capture the spirit.” — Small Press Review

“Plain pea-nutty fun.”  — Old Schoolhouse Magazine

Paperback, 76 pages, 48 black-and-white illustrations

List Price $9.95

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 Don’t Eat Dr. Peanut!  Six Nutty Tales 

 by Alan Venable.

This book begins with the tale told in the picture book Nutty to Meet You!, this time in chapter format, with fresh illustrations, slightly more advanced language for bedtime or early elementary reading. From there it just gets nuttier! The book is filled with wordplay and glimpses of real natural science and outlandishness that young readers and listeners will enjoy detecting.


  1. “Meet Doctor Peanut” — In which Dr. Peanut learns how to communicate with giants, and the giants learn a bit of “Pinglish.”
  2. “Slimy” — In which the doctor acquires a snail for a pet and decides after scientific research and some surprising communication that neighborliness might be a better way to go.
  3. “Too Many Squirrels” — A spine-tingling thriller of what can happen when a peanut takes a walk in the park!
  4. “Where Peanuts Come From” — We mean the talking kind, and the surprising natural history of the real kind, too.
  5. “The C-in-P Machine” — Pea-nutty high-tech unravels the mystery of why some peanuts are taller than others, yet all are nutty as they are.
  6. “Ask Before You Bite” — The peanut world goes into an uproar when a young talking peanut is bitten by a giant. Naturally, the science-minded doctor wants to prevent such disasters in the future.




Hardback with jacket, 10 chapters, 110 pages, 10 full-page, monochrome illustrations

List Price $12.95

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Discount to school address $5

Smashwords ebook

Take Me With You When You Go

by Alan Venable, illustrated by Laurie Marshall.

Ages 6 – 10.

“Sister and Brother Forgotten in one of the phrases used to describe the young siblings at the center of this story of love, loss, and longing. Taught that, ‘once together, never apart,’ Sister and Brother embark on a quest that begins when Granny becomes too old to care for them.  The treasure of the story is its connection to fairytales and folklore.  Take Me with You When You Go will make a great bedtime story for the older child.” —ForeWord Magazine

“Smoothly written, …moves at a strong pace. There is a kindness about the book, realistic conflicts, and incidents of humor…. Interesting, expressive illustrations enhance the text. In all, a winner for young readers, or for group audiences.  Recommended.” —Nancy Ferrel, Juneau Public Library Review Committee

“I was moved and passed this on to my own grandsons. The rhythm replicates traditional folktale.  The environmental theme resonates with other stories from other times. It echoes deep in the unconscious.”  —Mary Catherine Bateson, author of Composing a Life and Willing to Learn: Passages of Personal Discovery

 “A good story lasts a lifetime, especially one that awakens compassion and courage. Take Me with You leaves a mark.” —Adriane Lonzarich, teacher and storyteller

More Resources 

The lyrics of a simple song expand throughout the book. The tune is given in the book. You can also hear it here or download a simple piano arrangement.

Readers’ theater and fuller scripts are available free to teachers and children’s theaters.  Contact the publisher.


Ratting on Russo, a novel

 by Alan Venable.  2013

In the East End of Pittsburgh of the late 1950s, outcast, accordion-playing Marty falls under the spell of his eighth-grade classmate, 16-year-old Russo, a lonely, working-class, car-crazy crooner.  Deep in the post-war heart of bucolic Western Pennsylvania, what could go wrong?

Paperback, 170 pages

List price $14.95

Discount $3 

Smashwords eBook


The Room

by John M. Brewer.  

The concussions and delirium began in high school. How many traumatic injuries would it take before a few players rebelled against a celebrated, “winning” coach?  This is the hard but triumphant story of a proud African-American family and the bond between father and son. 

“The desire to win drives on strong, perhaps too strong.  The Room tells the story of the 1950s Westinghouse High School Bulldogs and their winning ways that came at any cost.  The wins were attributed in part to a fabled Room where players were forbidden to talk about what occurred.  

“In this football memoir, a former player speaks out against the team’s brutal treatment of players and how he rebelled against the cruel coach.  A remarkable story of how the need to win can destroy the high school life, The Room is a fascinating read cover to cover.” –Midwest Book Review

Paperback, 128 pages

List Price $14.95

Discount $3 

Smashwords eBook


Hope’s Kids: A Voting Rights Summer

by Alan Venable

Spring 1965. In the wake of Selma, a bill is finally wending through Congress to end the rigged literacy tests and other devices in place since Reconstruction to keep southern blacks out of voting and government. At the same time, Dr. King’s non-violent “wild man” Hosea Williams is laying the groundwork for hundreds of students to canvass the south in a summer voting rights project called SCOPE. Two dozen sign up at Brandeis, a vibrant young Boston area college, to work in South Carolina.

Late June. The Voting Rights Bill still hung up in Congress, the Brandeis SCOPErs arrive in urban Richland County, soon spreading out to hinterlands in adjoining Kershaw and Calhoun Counties. There they confront a powerful mix of intimidation, persisting sanctioned segregation and astonishing poverty. Sheltered in black homes, they place themselves in the service of local leaders in a century’s struggle for equal rights. To the kids from Boston, it’s scary, frustrating, surprising, inspiring, complex, and rich in lessons on life.

The author was a member of this project.  The book is based solidly on diaries and letters from the SCOPE kids that summer, plus historical research and interviews with people of the communities in which they worked.  

 Paperback, 218 pages, many maps & photos, indexed

List Price $17.95

Discount $3

Mississippi & After: A Life in Equal Justice Law

by Gil Venable. 2020

If you’re a student or a lawyer looking to make a difference, you’ll be inspired by this very personal memoir of an intense summer 1965 as a first-year law student doing civil rights legal work with a team of lawyers based in  Jackson Mississippi.  After graduating first in his class at Pitt law school in 1967 and clerking for federal Justice William H. Hastie, Gil dedicated his life to legal advocacy in civil, children’s and Native American rights, environmental defense and other public interest practice, with the Children’s Defense Fund, the Pittsburgh ACLU and many organizations in Arizona.

 “A compelling account of many battles against the discrimination and injustices suffered by Blacks, Hispanics, disabled children, immigrants and indigenous peoples under the heavy hands of the institutions of white power. …a new call to action for law students and others willing to enlist in the struggle.” — Kerry Gough, attorney and author of Dear Jeff, a memoir of cross racial adoption and fighting discrimination from Monterey to Mississippi

Part tales from the 1965 Mississippi voting rights battle, part rich family history, part primer on the law of voting, equal protection for the disabled and criminal justice…. information and inspiration.  His fight goes on.”  — Terry Goddard, former Mayor of Phoenix and former Attorney General of Arizona

“Now more than ever, our nation needs lawyers devoted to social justice.  Gil Venable’s gripping memoir shows how his early engagement in the civil rights movement forged a lifelong commitment to that struggle and those of other victims of injustice. It should be read by every law student and anyone thinking about a legal career. Gil’s life will inspire them.” — Richard Abel, Connell Distinguished Professor of Law Emeritus and Distinguished Research Professor, UCLA

Paperback, 179 pages, map, numerous photos, indexed

List Price $14.95

Discount $2