Todd Strasser

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Todd Strasser
Strasser in Langenau, Germany,
in March 2006
Born (1950-05-05) May 5, 1950 (age 66)
New York City, New York, United States
Pen name Morton Rhue; T. S. Rue
Occupation Writer, journalist
Nationality American
Period 1979–present (as writer)
Genre Children's and young adult fiction, novelizations, romans
Subject Literature


Todd Strasser (born May 5, 1950)[1] is an American writer[2] of more than 140 young-adult and middle grade novels and many short stories and works of non-fiction, some written under the pen names Morton Rhue[3] and T.S. Rue.

Early life[edit]

Todd Strasser was born in New York City.[4]


After studying literature in college, Strasser earned his living as a journalist and also operated his own fortune cookie company, producing cookies under the "Dr. Wing Tip Shoo" brand name. He is the father of two children, and an avid tennis player, skier, and surfer.[5]

Selected works[edit]

Strasser has written many novels for young adults and teens, picking controversial themes like Nazism, bullying at schools, homelessness, school shootings, and sexuality. They include Give a Boy a Gun, Boot Camp, Asphalt Tribe and If I Grow Up. His most famous work is The Wave, written under the name Morton Rhue, which is a novelization of the teleplay by Johnny Dawkins for the movie The Wave. These are fictionalized accounts of the "Third Wave" teaching experiment by Ron Jones in a Cubberley High School history class in Palo Alto, California. The Rhue novel has been translated into more than a dozen languages and is read in schools around the world.

Fallout is part memoir and part speculative fiction featuring nuclear war that results from the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis. A review in The New York Times called it "Exciting, harrowing ... Superb entertainment ... It thrums along with finely wrought atmosphere and gripping suspense."[citation needed] School Library Journal called it "A Must-Read Middle School Book" and it received starred reviews from Publisher's Weekly and Kirkus.

The Beast of Cretacea is Strasser's first science fiction adventure novel. Loosely based on Herman Melville's Moby Dick it foretells a time when, due to pollution and global warming, the Earth can no longer produce enough food to feed its population. As a result, space missions regularly depart for other planets to find additional sources of nutrition. The book's hero, young Ishmael, is on one such mission, to hunt and capture large alien beasts, which can be processed and sent back to Earth. The novel was recently awarded the Green Earth Book Award, young adult category.

No Place has received numerous positive reviews. School Library Journal wrote, "This compelling social commentary challenges stereotypes about homeless people and offers a look at homelessness from the perspective of a middle-class teen." In 2015 it was named a Notable Book for Young People by both the National Council for the Social Studies and by The Children's Book Council.

Strasser is also the author of the Time Zone High trilogy, How I Changed My Life, How I Created My Perfect Prom Date, and How I Spent My Last Night on Earth. How I Created My Perfect Prom Date was adapted for the feature film Drive Me Crazy, starring Adrian Grenier and Melissa Joan Hart (a movie that Strasser was reportedly not pleased with).

Other novels for young adults include The Accident, which became the television movie Over the Limit, as well as Angel Dust Blues, Friends Till the End, and A Very Touchy Subject. The latter also became a television movie, entitled Can a Guy Say No? Another novel, Workin' For Peanuts, was adapted to a television movie with the same title.

A trilogy of mystery thrillers for older YA readers includes Wish You Were Dead, Blood on My Hands, and Kill You Last, which was nominated for a 2012 Edgar Award by the Mystery Writers of America.

Barnes & Noble recently called Boot Camp a "Great YA Novel With A Male Protagonist".

Strasser has also written a number of young adult series, including Impact Zone (about surfing), Drift X (about drift car competitions), and Here Comes Heavenly (about a punk nanny with magical powers).

His books for middle-graders include CON-fidence, The Diving Bell, and Abe Lincoln for Class President. His series for middle graders include the very popular 17-book Help! I'm Trapped... collection, as well as the Don't Get Caught, Against the Odds, and Camp Run-A-Muck books. He also wrote Is That a Dead Dog in Your Locker?, Is That a Sick Cat in Your Backpack?, Is That a Glow-In-The-Dark Bunny in Your Pillow Case?, Is That an Angry Penguin in Your Gym Bag?, and Is That an Unlucky Leprechaun In Your Lunch?

Strasser has also published articles and short stories in The New Yorker, Esquire, and The New York Times.

His Kids' Books series of E-books includes The Kids' Book of Gross Facts and Feats (two volumes), The Kids' Book of Weird Science, The Kids' Book of Stupendously Stupid Stunts, The Kids' Book of Really Dumb American Criminals, The Kids' Book of Amazing Sports Facts and Feats, The Kids' Book of Funny Animal Jokes, and others.

Can't Get There from Here[edit]

Can't Get There from Here is about a group of homeless teenagers in Manhattan who struggle to survive a harsh winter.

Boot Camp[edit]

Main article: Boot Camp (novel)

This novel is about a young man who is sent to a physically abusive boot camp by his parents because of behavior.

Give a Boy a Gun[edit]

Main article: Give a Boy a Gun

The book Give a Boy a Gun was written as a series of interviews from Middletown High School, which was a recent location of a school shooting. Teachers, friends, and students give their versions of their time with Brendan and Gary, the two perpetrators of the shooting, from the beginning of ninth and tenth grades, and the day of the attack, which eventually led to the suicide of Gary (Brendan was severely beaten by students but it is unknown if he survived. Eventually the courts had to decide whether to disconnect his life support or not).

Nightmare Inn[edit]

The Nightmare Inn series consists of four horror novels set at a luxurious mountain hotel. The inn is the site of many horrific acts of murder and ghostly revenge. All four installments were published in 1993.

If I Grow Up[edit]

DeShawn lives in the Frederick Douglass Project, where he encounters death daily. Caught between the war of the Gentry Gangstas and the Douglass Disciples he tries to stay out of gang live. Growing older and starting to see his friends having enough money to sustain a luxurious life, while his family suffers,he decides to join the Disciples and work his way up.

Help! I'm Trapped...[edit]

He is also popular for the Help! I'm Trapped... series of 17 books written between 1993 and 2001.

Wish You Were Dead[edit]

Lucy Cunningham goes missing in a well-to-do quiet neighborhood Soundview after Madison and Tyler drop her out side her house. Str-S-d wrote on their blog that they wished Lucy was dead. Ms. Skelling, the head of Safe-Rides and chemistry teacher, tells Madison off for leaving Lucy outside and not waiting for her to go in. Meanwhile, Str-S-d keeps writing about how the popular kids in school pick on them and make fun of them. Tyler misses safe-rides one night, and Dave is his replacement. He and Madison watch Juno together, and the main character in Juno is Paulie Bleeker, that's when Madison realises something. The next morning they hear Lucy's boyfriend Adam Pinter goes missing, the town doesn't know what to do. They are scared for their children's lives. Str-S-d thinks this is just coincidence, when she talked about Adam dying too after he apparently embarrassed them in class. But soon after she writes about Courtney (the main character, 16-year-old Madison's best friend) dying too, she ends up missing. Str-s-d doesn't believe the disappearances are a coincidence anymore. She stops writing blog, but she receives comments from IaMnEmIsIs to "come to see what we've done for you" but Str-s-d refuses, and they say "then we'll bring it to you". Madison, Lucy, Adam, and Courtney were friends. Tyler, a boy who Madison has a crush on, seems to know about the case, but won't tell Madison about it. She wants to hear about his opinion, but is afraid what this will lead to. Soon she finds out who Str-S-d is when Maura, a quiet, unpopular girl comes to school telling her about the blog. For the year, Madison picked a safe-rides job and so did Tyler and Dave. Sometimes, Madison checks her messages at night and there are some from her cyberstalker, Pee Bleeker. That leads her to the real killer. Tyler came to Soundview high a month after the school year started, and Madison feels anger at him as well as affection.

Y2K-9: the Dog Who Saved the World[edit]

This novel documents the story of an aging detection dog, named Byte, who was once trained by the military to assist in counter-cyberterrorism missions deemed too risky for his human handlers. Similarly to a bloodhound, he was used to enter dangerous areas and identify the target they were seeking. To accomplish the complex feat of tracking cyberterrorists, Byte was part of a series of mammals bred and genetically modified to possess human-level intelligence (but without the ability to speak human languages to make him difficult to torture for extracting information) for use in military operations.

The year is 1999 AD, and it is the onset of the new millinium. Amid the height of fears regarding the Year 2000 problem, terroristic threats are intercepted by the American government. They indicated a credible threat that electronic sabotage was to be executed on urban America's various sewage treatment networks unless a ransom was satisfied alongside the unusual demand that Lincoln Memorial was presented to the cyberterrorist "to be freely altered in any way he wants". If the threat was carried out, it would have destroyed the electronic machinary for sewage treatment, effectively ending indoor plumbing in the country's cities for months, if not years. The social upheaval would have been tremendous.

Byte, having long severed connections with his handlers and adopted by a civilian family, was pressed by the military to engage in one last counter-cyberterrorism mission. To do this, he would need to gather "trustworthy individuals" from his new home to "sniff out" and lead the police to the cyberterrorist before he could back up the American cities' sewers.

Byte elects to employ three Internet colleagues that he had been anonymously chatting with for years to carry out this search mission. Each of these three colleagues, and Byte himself, all used the cloak of anonymity to pretend they were something they were not, leading to great surprise when they all met each other.

They engage in their mission and ultimately meet the source of the threats. The cyberterrorist is a direct descendant of the inventor of the portable plastic outhouse, or "port-o-potty", who believes that his ancestor's invention is "unappreciated" and in sore need of the "recognition that it so deserves". His plan, by forcing urban America to abandon its indoor plumbing, is to create a massive surge in demands for portable plastic outhouses, both to honor his family's legacy and, obviously, to make him wealthy.

The cyberterrorist's unusual ransom demand to alter the Lincoln Memorial was the ultimate means of honoring his family. He wanted to resculpt Abraham Lincoln's face to mirror the inventor of the "port-o-potty" and convert the marble building housing Lincoln (now the port-o-potty's inventor) on his "throne" (a slang term to also refer to a toilet) into a replica of a portable plastic outhouse!

Naturally, Byte and company thwarted this scheme. The book concluded with "I'll never look at [a portable plastic outhouse] the same way again.".

Other books[edit]

Strasser has also written separate stories including Kidnap Kids (about two siblings who kidnap their parents), and Hey Dad! Get a Life, and two sequels to Wish You Were Dead: one called Blood On My Hands, and one called Kill You Last.

Bibliography list[edit]

  • Super Mario Brothers. Phoenix, AZ: Blue Butt Books 1993. ISBN 1-562-82471-6
  • The Wave. New York: Dell, 1981; Laurel Leaf/Dell, 1985; Puffin Books 1988, ISBN 0-14-037188-5. Novelization of the 1981 ABC television show The Wave.
  • Coming Attractions trilogy:
    • Rock ’n Roll Nights / Turn It Up! (1985) / Wildlife (1987)
  • "Young Adult Books: Stalking the Teen." Horn Book Magazine, vol. 62, no. 2 (1986, Mar.-Apr.), pp. 236–239.
  • The Accident. New York: Delacorte, 1988. Adapted for television in the ABC Afterschool Special Over the Limit (1990).
  • How I Created my Perfect Prom Date. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1996. Originally published as Girl Gives Birth to Own Prom Date (1996) and later adapted into the film Drive Me Crazy (1999).
  • Give a Boy a Gun. New York: Simon and Schuster, 2000; Simon Pulse 2002, ISBN 0-689-84893-5
  • Thief of Dreams, Putnam Juvenile 2003, ISBN 0-399-23135-8
  • Can't Get There from Here, Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing, 2004, ISBN 0-689-84169-8
  • Slide or Die. Simon Pulse 2006, ISBN 1-4169-0581-2 Drift X Series
  • Battle Drift
  • Sidewgayz Glory
  • Wish You Were Dead
  • Mob Princess:1 For Money and Love
  • Mob Princess:2 Secrets, Lies, and Stolen kisses
  • Mob Princess:3 Count Your Blessings
  • is that a dead dog in your locker
  • Night time
  • Blood On My Hands
  • If I grow up
  • How I Changed My Life
  • How I Created My Perfect Prom Date
  • How I Spent My Last Night On Earth (2000)
  • con-fidence
  • "Angel Dust Blues"


  1. ^ "Todd Strasser". Scholastic. Retrieved 2015-02-26. 
  2. ^ "Todd Strasser". Retrieved 2015-02-26. 
  3. ^ "Todd Strasser". Retrieved 2015-02-26. 
  4. ^ [1] Archived April 26, 2009, at the Wayback Machine.
  5. ^ "Todd Strasser author of Fallout, The Beast of Cretacea, The Wave, and many YA and middle-grade books". Retrieved 2015-02-26. 

External links[edit]