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Jasper Dash and the Flame-Pits of Delaware


A Pals in Peril Tale

Illustrated by Kurt Cyrus

It is into the mist-shrouded heart of this forbidden, mountainous realm that our plucky and intrepid heroes – Jasper Dash, Boy Technonaut, and his friends Lily and Katie – must journey to unravel a terrible mystery.

Come along on a tale of grand adventure that includes in its pages: Lost cities! Tentacles! Monks! Dinosaurs! Gangsters! Cheap suits! Eye doctors! And, of course, the fabled Curse of the Jaguar!

NOTE: For those interested in learning more about the fascinating state of Delaware, in which this book takes place, we have provided a highly educational, completely erroneous Tourist’s Guide to Deepest, Darkest Delaware.


“Relentlessly imaginative and laff-filled … The invention never flags.” – Booklist, starred review

“Metafiction at its most weirdly satisfying …” – Kirkus Reviews

“Like the chums’ previous exploits, this off-the-wall parody of Stratemeyer-style series fiction features mock-heroic dialogue, breakneck chases and battles, hairsbreadth escapes, and fiendish (if rather inept) villains.” – School Library Journal

“Young readers … will enjoy journeying deep into the heart of darkest Delaware – and they won’t even have to pay the tolls.” – The Horn Book

Special Note: When I recently visited Delaware – which was lovely – the Governor of the state wrote me a letter about this book. It is, I believe, the only time a state governor has ever called me “buster.” Read the letter here. He’s a good sport. I’d vote for him, except I live in Massachusetts.

On Jasper Dash and the Flame-Pits of Delaware

When I was a child, I loved books of fantasy travel and adventure: Victorians in pith-helmets and starched collars knocking around in the dusty tombs of Karnak. Bookish mystery-seekers making their way across the frozen steppe to read the runes on some ancient, magical pillar dedicated to toads. Conan the Barbarian, smashing through lost jungles with spiders twitching above his head, flying apes perched in ruins to either side of him, cobras slithering to bite his knees, and a piranha in his canteen.

What thrilled me in these books were not just the specific moments of adventure – the fumbling mummies, the lassoed pterodactyls – but also the sense of the vast, untamed landscape. In my little safe suburban house, I dreamed of a world of howling wilderness and secret valleys. I hoped that there were still places to discover on the Earth. And I hoped even more that there were still places that would remain undiscovered and unplundered until the end of time.

And so, as an adult, I have written a book about Delaware. Cut off from the world for generations by its prohibitive interstate tolls, Delaware, to most of us, is nothing but an exotic name, a realm of fantasy. I determined to pierce the veil of mystery. I determined to reach deep inside the Blue Hen State and yank out its giblets for all to see.

No, okay, I’ve never actually been to Delaware. I may not be one of your so-called “experts” on the state. But I looked at MapQuest for at least six or seven minutes, and any fool could tell you that Dragon Creek must be dragon infested, and Red Lion Creek must be red lion infested, and that Sandtown is a caravanserai in the middle of a desert. It doesn’t take a PhD in Geography to tell that seaside hamlets with names like Slaughter Beach and Broadkill are the haunts of Vikings. You don’t need to be a member of the Adventurers’ Club to figure out that the largest building in Ogletown is an observatory, or to guess that when you visit the village of Bear, you better hide your food up a tree.

Jasper Dash and the Flame-Pits of Delaware is an homage to those adventure books I read as a kid, and to wonderful friendships, and to the imagination of those of us who sit on lawn-chairs and dream of far-off places. It is the story of three plucky kids who brave the interior of Delaware – who seek ancient artifacts – who confront dinosaurs and secret police – who are chased and marauded by Delaware’s tyrannical leader, the Awful and Adorable Autarch of Dagsboro – but who, in the end, find their way home.

I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. And I hope that as you read it sitting at home, it will take you miraculous places you’ve never been.

Like Wilmington.