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Local author connects lacrosse and family in children’s book, ‘Jake Jennings: Lacrosse Goalie’

Thursday, 27th December 2012

Categories Boy's/Men's, Girl's/Women's, Youth  

By Chris Goldberg, Posted 12/27/12

Lisa Butler is happy to tell you she is a true lacrosse mother.

So as matriarch of a family that has made lacrosse a major part of their lives, it was easy for the Blue Bell native to author the children’s book, “Jake Jennings: Lacrosse Goalie.”

Jake Jennings: Lacrosse Goalie

The book, which sells for $9.99, is about Jake, the youngest of three lacrosse playing boys and his quest to be a star goal scorer for his youth team. Jake, also the narrator, is pressured to play goalie by one of his brothers. Jake resists for a while, but eventually thrives in that most demanding position.

The book features the artwork of J.D. Whitman, an art school major at the University of Chicago and a graduate of Germantown Academy.

So far sales are brisk (over 350 sold) and the book has been endorsed by the Philadelphia Wings and several notable Philly lacrosse personalities such as Hall of Famer George Wattles. It is available on, Butler’s website ( currently at Wave One (Conshohocken), LaxZone (Ambler) and Competitive Edge (Wayne). Inside Lacrosse has offered to sell it in its on-line shop and Butler is talking to many other lacrosse outlets.

Butler answered these questions about “Jake Jennings: Lacrosse Goalie.”

What was your motivation for writing the book?

Butler: “When our boys were younger I noticed that there are many more books that interest girls than boys. In today’s world, boys begin playing organized sports by age 4 and they want to read about what is relevant in their lives. I envisioned a book about sports and about the boy-world to engage possibly the reluctant reader. The book is not ‘preachy’, but there are messages there if they choose to notice. Otherwise, it’s just a fun read. Next to seeing your son in the backyard with his lacrosse stick in his hands, seeing him reading about lacrosse has to be the next best thing!”

Can you briefly describe the plot?

Butler: “The book is about three brothers, narrated by the youngest as he tells the tails of being the youngest and his approaching first lacrosse season. Jake is determined to be a lacrosse star famously scoring goals, and DOES NOT want to play goalie. The problem for Jake is that his older brother plays goalie and puts a lot of pressure on Jake to play. The story includes practices, drills, games and a tournament. Despite non-stop pressure from his brother, Jake is able to avoid playing goalie until the end when he does, and he LOVES it! Jake even plays ‘up’ on this brother’s team and helps them qualify for the State tournament. That’s when Jake becomes a hero. The story is also full of brotherly antics, outside play, Nerf wars and cups that are lost and found in the dog’s mouth!”

What age group is the book intended for?

Butler: “For independent readers, it’s for older elementary to middle school aged readers. But it’s also a great book to read to younger readers. A few friends have read it out-loud to their younger sons. Two fifth graders at my son’s school are reading it for a book report, and several girls have loved the book as well.”

Is this your first book?

Butler: “This is my first book, but I have a whole notebook full of ideas for the next one!

How did you find such an artist that so capably captures the essence of Jake and his quest

Butler: “I knew I wanted a student artist, thinking that a young perspective on the scenes would be the most perceptive. It was also critical to me that the artist connect to the story. Although I received several names, I knew J.D. was perfect when she said she was laughing out loud in her college library when reading the manuscript. Not only is J.D. an outstanding artist, J.D. is also a very talented athlete herself: gymnastics, soccer, pole-vaulting and of course, lacrosse. She has three lively, athletic brothers- J.D. got Jake right away! We connected instantly. I think her pictures could stand alone and tell the whole story.”

Why does the Butler family love lacrosse?

Butler: “We have three boys; why do we love lacrosse? Action, action, action! Everyone can be in motion. They love lacrosse because of the hard work, teamwork and cooperation pay off when they can execute a play and see the results. I think this uniquely bonds the kids together. It’s a game of skill, and strategy, and requires a combination of all kinds of athletes, thus the kids respect and value each other’s unique talents. And, who wouldn’t want to be a part of the fastest growing sport in America?”

Will you be doing any book signings?

Butler: “I did a signing at the book fair at my son’s school and it was great! The kids really seemed to enjoy reading a personalized message. I am hoping to organize something at the (US Lacrosse) convention and I am planning on signings at many of the spring tournaments in the area.”

Any final comments?

Butler: “Throughout the entire process of writing this book, people have responded with sincere kindness. From the teachers and coaches, to my friends and my son’s friends, all have contributed to the final product. Children and parents are telling me how much they love the book. And now, the lacrosse world has really embraced Jake, with each store owner, team coach, team owner, college alums, all offering another referral or contact for me to reach. I am so grateful, the lacrosse community is amazing!”


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