G.G. Rock Climbs



G.G. ROCK CLIMBS (The G.G. Series, Book #2)

By Marty Mokler Banks, Photo Illustrations by Alisa Mokler Harper


Published by: Switch Monkey Press (September 14, 2014)

Available in: paperback, Kindle

At the time of this review there were two books in The G.G. Series.


Sports rock.

It seems almost ridiculous but, for chapter books, there are very few sports-dedicated books. In a search of books in this blog over the past 13 months, only five books comprise the “includes sports” category. “Good books for girls” has 31.

G.G. Rock Climbs and the first book in The G.G. Series, G.G. Snowboards, explore the non-traditional sports most kids don’t get to try. Through the experience of an inner city, Hispanic, spunky, eight-year-old girl, the reader lives the joys of trying, the pain of failing, the empowerment of perseverance and the pride of accomplishing something that seemed impossible.

The G.G. Series chapter books are designed to make newly independent readers comfortable and engaged in text longer than early readers or picture books. But The G.G. Series also is about exposing kids to sports they might not think they can do. It’s about kids seeing themselves as athletes. And it’s about feeling healthy and into physical strength as much as mental strength.

What do you say teachers, parents and writers? Use the comment below and let’s chat….

Of course it must be mentioned that I am the author of The G.G. Series books. Full disclosure and all that.


Interview: Photo Illustrator Alisa Mokler Harper



Photographer Alisa Mokler Harper


Alisa Mokler Harper is a photojournalist who works on the television production crew for ESPN’s X Games. She’s also a two-time X Games competitor, former U.S. Snowboard Team member and has recently co-created The G.G. Series, new chapter books, in which she contributes photo illustrations. I caught up with her at home in Colorado after the launch of the first book in the series, G.G. Snowboards.


In G.G. Snowboards, a lot of the dramatic tension revolves around the eight-year-old G.G. getting the nerve to try a halfpipe ride. Do you remember your first pipe? Hmmm… I don’t remember the first time I rode the halfpipe, but I do remember the first time they introduced the superpipe—which took it from about 12- to 14-foot walls to 18-foot walls; it was a BIG difference. We were all, well, scared. Everybody—all the pros—everybody was so scared. It was at the first contest of the season at my home pipe in Mammoth, but it was like nothing we’d ever seen before. I guess we finally got up the nerve to drop in and the more we rode it the more we got used to it. Now the pros ride a 22-foot superpipe… I feel like G.G. when I think about that!

AirtoFakieAlisa Mokler Harper throwing an air to fakie in the superpipe.

As both an athlete and an artist, do you see correlations between how an artist and an athlete prepare for or tackle their work? A lot of visualization as an athlete, and a lot of visualization with this book as well… as to where to place what photos, and what was going to be needed to be suggested with each chapter. (Laughs) But, I wasn’t lifting any weights.

Chapter books traditionally use line art as illustrations. How do you think kids will react to the use of black & white photos in G.G. Snowboards? I hope well. I know it’s really different, and black & white photography is not generally geared towards children—it’s more geared toward fine art. But I think a lot of people underestimate kids and what we have done with these photos really respects kids’ intelligence. At first I wanted to make the pictures more like line drawings, but as I got into it I realized that just wasn’t going to work. We had to go with the photos as what they were. The photos had to evolve as the first book came together and though it was sort of a complicated process, I’m happy with what we got.

You create artwork for gallery installations for the adult market. Did your creative process change for your work as part of children’s fiction? Yeah, it changed a lot. I really had to think about not presenting things so literally, but presenting a notion or a feeling toward an idea. I wanted to show what a moment might feel like, but still let kids make up their own story in their heads. Not put it there for them.

You have two young girls. What do you think you might do differently if you had boys? I don’t think that I would do anything differently because, you know, I get my girls involved with sports and we do physical things that are traditionally considered boy things—like snowboarding, for instance. I’d have less pink around the house—that would be nice.

You work for ESPN’s television production crew for the X Games. People think of jobs in TV as sexy, and sports as cool. What are your days like when you’re working an X Games? Grueling. It’s so grueling. It’s long and competitive and lots and lots of computer time and office time and, you know, I can’t count the number of times people have told me, “You have the best job in the world!” Yeah, it’s definitely not as glamorous as most people think. It’s challenging, and I get to work with amazing minds that create an amazing end product, and so I really appreciate that. What do you mean by competitive? It’s a very competitive industry. There’s a lot of people who want to work in sports, and a lot of people who want to work in sports journalism. And if you’re not at the forefront of what’s going on, and if you’re not a thinker and a doer, there are 100 people right behind you who will take your spot.

Catch Alisa’s work this week when the Winter X Games Aspen 2014 begin Thursday, January 23 and continue through Sunday, January 26, 2014 on ESPN. You probably won’t see or hear about her, but know that when you’re watching at home, she’s in Aspen pulling long days with the rest of the TV crew. Enjoy your couch….

AlisaHarper catching a great day on the slope.