Saturday Night Dirt
A MOTOR Novel
By Will Weaver
(Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR), Hardcover, 9780374350604, 176pp.)
Publication Date: April 1, 2008
List Price: $15.99*
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It’s a sizzling summer Saturday, and Headwaters Speedway has suddenly become the place to be. Thanks to rainouts across the state, this small-town dirt track is drawing both big-time stock cars and local drivers. There’s Trace Bonham, whose Street Stock Chevy is acting up in a big way. And Beau Kim, whose “stone soup” Modified has been patched together from whatever parts he could scrape up. And no one could forget Amber Jenkins, a strawberry blonde who has what it takes to run rings around them all. Keeping everyone on track is Melody Walters, who knows that the impending rain might be exactly what they need to keep her father’s speedway afloat—or sink it for good.
In Will Weaver’s high-revving novel, the first in the Motor series, a cast of car-obsessed teens and adults are all out to prove themselves, both on and off the quarter-mile track, as they move through their day on a collision course to meet on Saturday night dirt.Saturday Night Dirt is a 2009 Bank Street - Best Children's Book of the Year.
Author of Red Earth, White Earth and A Gravestone Made of Wheat, Will Weaver grew up in northern Minnesota on a dairy farm. The sometimes harsh and beautiful landscape of farm and small town life figures strongly in his writing. Sweet Land, an independent feature film adaptation of his story “Gravestone Made of Wheat”, and starring Ned Beatty, premiered in October of 2006.
Weaver is also known for his young adult fiction. His character Billy Baggs, a teenage farm boy baseball phenom, earned his way into the hearts of teen readers in the series Striking Out, Farm Team, and Hard Ball. Each novel has won numerous awards, including being named an ALA Best Book for Young Adults. Memory Boy, a post-apocalyptic novel based on environmental collapse, is used across the curriculum in many junior and senior high schools.
Claws, a novel set in northeastern Minnesota (Duluth and the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness) features outdoor survival with a strong family back story. Weaver’s Full Service won starred reviews (Kirkus Reviews and The Horn Book) for its focus on a young man struggling with matters of religious faith and doubt, all complicated by his first “real” summer job, at a gas station, where he “meets the public” in all its variety. Defect, a novel about a teenager born with a miraculous birth abnormality, highlights what one reviewer from The St. Paul Pioneer Press called “the humanity and decency that runs through all of Weaver’s work.”.
As an author, Mr. Weaver is particularly concerned with youth literacy and keeping kids reading. His new MOTOR series addresses a group of underserved young adult readers: kids who love cars. His new novel Saturday Night Dirt and its sequel, Super Stock Rookie, focus on dirt track stock car racing. The series starts with a close focus on a small town speedway and the cast of colorful characters who come there to race on Saturday nights. One of the characters, sixteen-year-old Trace Bonham, is a natural driver with dreams of racing professionally. The MOTOR series follows Trace’s on his path toward getting a “ride” (a sponsored race car) and competing at the highest level he can. While these auto racing novels will certainly appeal to boys, Weaver’s novels always contain a diverse cast of characters. Auto racing is one of the few sports that gives no gender advantage, and the MOTOR series also includes a positive and realistic portrayal of young women involved in racing.
Along with the MOTOR series of novels, Weaver has formed a stock car racing team with a teenaged driver. His black No. 16 Modified race car, co-sponsored by Farrar, Straus & Giroux publishers, is driven by Skyler Smith of Bemidji. Team Weaver races in the WISSOTA circuit in the upper Midwest.
An avid outdoorsman, Will Weaver lives with his wife on the Mississippi River in northern Minnesota.