Children's Authors/Will Hobbs

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Meet Author Will Hobbs![edit | edit source]

Will Hobbs was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on August 22, 1947, but because his family was in the Air Force he got to live in many different places. This diversity of location lends important settings to many of the stories that Will Hobbs tells. He also has enjoyed outdoor activities throughout his life, and this type of adventure is found in many of his novels. On his website , Will says that he hopes his stories inspire a love for the natural world, and an interest in wild places and creatures.
Will Hobbs says half of what he writes comes from his life experiences and half from his own personal readings. Readers often ask him, “What made you want to write in the first place?” That is easy to answer, because he has always loved reading. Will says if you like reading stories, you too might start thinking, “I want to try that. I want to write a story!” Reading books was his favorite part of school and he was a reading teacher before he became a full time writer.
Will Hobbs starts his writing process by winding up a little toy pterodactyl. By the time it walks across his desk he has to start writing something. Will can credit many of his books, like Beardance to this dinosaur. On most days he tries to write for at least six hours, as his stories go from outlines to drafts. Will says he often feels like a rat in a maze, racing down the path of one direction, finding a dead end, backtracking until he finds the direction he is looking for.
For Will Hobbs image, voice, and audience are very important elements to his stories. A picture he sees, or a place he visits creates strong feelings or emotions and then he starts to imagine characters that would be part of that place. Then, these characters have conversations, and the writer becomes the listener, writing things down as they happen. Finally, it is important for Will Hobbs to stay connected to his audience, his readers. He stays in close contact with kids. He reads their letters and meets them in schools to discuss the books that really have engaged their hearts and imaginations. Maybe one day you will get to meet author Will Hobbs at your school!

Books of Interest[edit | edit source]

Downriver (1991)[edit | edit source]

This book is an adventure story set in the well described landscape of the Grand Canyon. The dialogue that evolves between a group of juvenile delinquents, who escape from their outdoor rehab program, brings us along for an adventure of nail biting twists and turns. Unexpected insights into troubled youth and their struggle to develop confidence, leadership, and adult like responsibility. Middle grade students (4th-8th) will especially be drawn to the recklessness of these “River Pirates”, and teachers will appreciate this first person account of the dynamic character Jessie. Her relationship with Troy, the manipulative “leader”, plays out interesting and relate-able way. Readers will also enjoy the sequel, and continuation of Jessie’s river adventures in RIVER THUNDER (1997). For more information about how and why Will Hobbs wrote Downriver visit

Bearstone (1989)[edit | edit source]

This young adult novel has won awards from the American Library Association (ALA), Teacher’s Choice, and Notable Children’s Trade Books in Field of Social Studies (NCSS). The awards reflect the story’s vivid descriptions of the continental divide, Rio Grande Pyramid, and “The Window”. But readers will relate to the inner dialogue of fourteen year old trouble-maker Cloyd, who is based on a real student acquainted with author Will Hobbs. Cloyd’s adventures lead him to work for Walter on his Colorado ranch. An unexpected relationship develops between Clyde and Walter through their adventures with wildlife, mines, and poachers. Some elements are historical and accurate, but it really is a fun adventure for middle aged students who love the outdoors. Will Hobbs sequel to Bearstone is Beardance which continues with the character Cloyd as he tries to run the ranch and save the grizzlies. For more information about why Will Hobbs wrote the sequel to Bearstone visit

Beardream, illustrated by Jill Kaster (1997)[edit | edit source]

This children’s picture book based on the research that Will Hobbs did for his novels’ Bearstone and Beardance. He came across the idea that the Ute people learned the beardance from bears themselves and turned this idea into a children’s novel. The lyrical writing follows “Short Tail”, a young Ute boy who sets off to find the Great Bear in the mountains. In the layered, magical illustrations, the boy and bear seem to become one, and the beardance is taught and learned. The conclusion is a mysterious weaving of tradition, bravery, and preservation that accurately mirrors Native American Ute culture. This book is written for children ages 6-9, but could be a delightful introduction for a secondary level Native American study.

Jason's Gold (1999)[edit | edit source]

An ALA Best Book for Young Adults, Jason’s Gold is a page turning adventure that seamlessly combines fact and fiction surrounding the Alaska Gold Rush of the 1890’s. Untold riches lure Jason into the wilds of real life settings like Chilchoot Pass and Dead Horse Point. In ALAN review, teachers are reported to use Jason’s Gold as part of a four week unit in conjunction with The Call of the Wild. Students were able to more easily understand this classic because they already understood the historical, geographic and social conditions present in Jason’s Gold. Jason’s Gold presents a strong protagonist character that students can follow through adventures of courage, friendship and endurance. In appended notes, author Will Hobbs even discusses his research and lists sources.

Kokopelli's Flute (1995)[edit | edit source]

This novel is Will Hobb's first try at fantasy. Set in the southwest, amid Anasazi Ruins, the main character Tepary plays a magical flute under a lunar eclipse and gets more than he bargained for. Unexpected insights into a ancient culture occur night after night, as Tepary transforms into a pack rat. Understated themes of nature, disease, preservation, and agriculture blend together to create a delightful plot and mood. Time travel is fiction, but this story has us suspending our disbelief for a while.

Go Big or Go Home (2008)[edit | edit source]

In Will Hobb's most recent published work, you might be expecting an account of extreme sports. However, the book stems from the on historical account of a Martian meteorite that supposedly contained traces of life. Unexpectedly, the story takes place in the Black Hills of South Dakota, where the main character Brady's physical changes lead him to think he has been infected by some virus from Mars. This novel would be a great springboard for topics in astrobiology, physics, as well as issues in mining, environmental biology, and Native American site preservation.

Notes about the Author's Work[edit | edit source]

Will Hobb's books are diverse in location, but locations are paramount to his stories. The author's style is casual, written with dialogue that is easily understood by current middle aged students (4th-8th grades). Often the books are written from a boy's perspective, and the characters have something to prove. Each story is reminiscent of a coming of age story that a grown up might recall to his own children.They are often told in the first person, from the point of view of the main protagonist. His novels contain historically and geographically accurate descriptions. Students can generalize about times and places through the adventures of Will Hobb's characters. These trade books are excellent spring boards for discussions about social studies, science, and environmental topics.

References[edit | edit source]

Book Citations

Hobbs, Will. Downriver. New York: Dell Laurel-Leaf, a division of Random House Publishing Company , 1991.
Hobbs, Will. Bearstone. New York: Alladin Paperbacks, 1989.
Hobbs, Will and Kastner, Jill. Beardream. New York: Alladin Picture Books, 1997.
Hobbs, Will. Jason's Gold. New York: Morrow Junior Books, 1999.
Hobbs, Will. Kokepelli's Flute. New York: Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 1995.
Hobbs, Will. Go Big or Go Home. New York: Harper Collins Children's Books, 2008.

Professional Articles

Lott,C. and Wasta, S. (2008) Lessons Learned from Hobbs, London, and the Yukon Gold Rush. The ALAN Review. Volume 35, Number 2, Winter.
Thompson, E.H. (1994) An Interview with Will Hobbs: How His Novels Come into Being. The ALAN Review. Volume 22, Number 1, Fall.

Internet Resources

Will Hobbs Bibliography at
Will Hobbs the Author Homepage at