Two Lenexa authors make 2019 Kansas Notable Books list

Jamie Lynn Heller
Jamie Lynn Heller’s book ‘Buried in the Suburbs’ made the 2019 list of Kansas Notable Books. Photo courtesy of Jamie Lynn Heller

Two Lenexa authors made the Kansas Notable Books list this year.

Jamie Lynn Heller and Daniel Miyares are among 15 authors whose books made the 14th annual selection of Kansas Notable Books.

State Librarian Eric Norris announced the selection on Monday, noting that the 15 books feature “quality titles with wide public appeal, either written by a Kansan or about a Kansas related topic.”

“Choosing only 15 books is no easy task,” Norris said in a statement. “The selection committee began with a pool of nearly 100 submitted titles and worked diligently to identify the year’s best works by Kansas authors and illustrators, as well as those works that highlight our history and heritage.”

About Jamie Lynn Heller and her book “Buried in the Suburbs”

Heller’s book, “Buried in the Suburbs,” published by Woodley Press, comprises her first full-length collection of poetry, a compilation of her poems since 2009. The English teacher at Gardner Edgerton High School said it was “so exciting” for her book to make the list.

“I think the most exciting part is to know that other people read it and felt some connection to it,” she said.

Originally from the Brookside area, she lives in Lenexa with her husband, David Heller, and two daughters.

“The overarching tie of all the pieces is just how I try to make sure I hang onto myself and not get buried in the routine of day-to-day life,” she said. “It’s really just how I try not to be buried in the suburbs by honoring small moments in life that are beautiful, by continuing to daydream, by remembering, by hanging onto moments, those kind of things.”

Heller said she hopes her work reminds readers to notice their lives and the day-to-day moments, and to stop and cherish these memories.

“I’ve got a poem about just taking a deep breath out in the garden,” she said. “I think we get so busy, that I hope that they are reminders of the quiet moments that we come across, and some of the funny ones, and that we don’t let those slip by.”

Some of Heller’s work is also published on the Kansas Poets website.

About Daniel Miyares and his book “Night Out”

Miyares’s book, “Night Out,” published by Schwartz & Wade Books, is a picture book he wrote and illustrated about a boy who feels lonely in a boarding school and goes on a grand night adventure where he makes friends with large animals.

The author, who works as an artist for Hallmark Cards, said he left it open for readers to wonder if the boy’s adventure was real or imagined. He hopes young readers will be encouraged by his book to use their imaginations “to go places they might not normally go.”

Daniel Miyares
Daniel Miyares’s book ‘Night Out’ also made the 2019 list of Kansas Notable Books. Photo courtesy of Daniel Miyares.

“I’m not originally from Kansas; I moved here about 16 years ago,” he said. “And to see how the state library is supporting literacy and reading and the young people in our state through this program, it’s amazing to be a part of it. It’s an honor.

“This is my backyard now. This is where my children are growing up. And it’s nice to see the state investing in that, but it’s also nice to see a conversation going on with local authors and illustrators.”

Originally from South Carolina, Miyares said it’s great to join the ranks of “fantastic bookmakers” in Kansas and also the Kansas City metro area.

“It kinda sews me into the fabric of the state, where historically I don’t have a connection,” he said, adding that he is grateful for the support of Norris and Cindy Roupe, the coordinator for Kansas Notable Books.

“Night Out” is his second book to make the Kansas Notable Books list. Last year, he made the 2018 list with his book, “That is My Dream!” which he co-authored with Langston Hughes.

Miyares has published about a dozen books and illustrated for half a dozen works by other authors. He lives in Lenexa with his wife, Lisa Miyares, and their two children.

Kansas Notable Books is a project of the Kansas Center for the Book, a program of the State Library. The Kansas Center for the Book is a state affiliate of the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress.

An awards ceremony to recognize the authors will take place at the Kansas Book Festival, Saturday, September 14 at the State Capitol.