‘Tennis Shoes’ author brings back memories for BYU students

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As students walked past the table filled with novels, cover art from their childhood caught their eye, causing them to stop and inquire.

Chris Heimerdinger, popular LDS children’s novelist and author of the “Tennis Shoes Among the Nephites” series, signed books at the BYU Bookstore recently. Heimerdinger recently published a novel, “Escape from Zarahemla,” a sequel to the book and movie “Passage to Zarahemla.” About his book, Heimerdinger said there was a lot of hype to do a sequel, because of the cliffhanger nature of the previous novel, and he hopes the sequel will be even more exciting for his readers.

“I decided to get into more adventure, and have non-stop scenes of action and adventure in this particular book,” he said. “It deals with the time period of when Gadianton robbers were launching their invasions against Giddianhi and judge Lachoneus. I wanted to portray it in both a fantasy and reality perspective.”

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Chris Heimdinger, author of the “Tennis Shoes Among the Nephites” series, signs a copy for BYU student Sami Carruth.

Heimerdinger wrote his first novel, “Tennis Shoes Among the Nephites,” in 1989, and has been coming to BYU to do book signings since.

“I always push to do a BYU Provo book signing, because those are my readers, those are my fans,” Heimerdinger said. “Even if they don’t buy books they seem excited to come visit and meet me, and that’s always exciting.”

Jacob Ferrin, a sophomore nursing major from Thousand Oaks, Calif., grew up reading Heimerdinger’s novels, and was one of the first students to take notice of his book signing.

“I remember reading through The Book of Mormon as a little kid, and it didn’t always make the most sense,” the 21-year-old said. “I always loved the little picture books and movies that helped me understand better, but the characters in these books, the subplots — he really brings The Book of Mormon to life.”

Ferrin recently returned from serving in the Missouri St. Louis mission, and said he often thought of Heimerdinger’s novels during his personal scripture study.

“I remember reading about Teancum and Captain Moroni and the Old World in Jerusalem, and he covers all of that, and he opened my eyes to reading in general, specifically The Book of Mormon,” Ferrin said. “On my mission as I would read through things, I would remember thinking, ‘Oh yeah, I remember that from ‘Tennis Shoes Among the Nephites.’ ”

Matt Burton, 18, a freshman elementary education major from Austin, Texas, has fond memories of reading Heimerdinger’s novel on road trips as a child.

“My dad was a huge fan of these books, and so we used to listen to them on road trips when we came up to Utah,” Burton said. “It was fun family bonding, and it’s the one thing I really remember about family road trips.”

Maureen Porter, LDS book buyer at the BYU Bookstore, has helped host Heimerdinger more than seven times during her time at BYU. According to Porter, the last time a “Tennis Shoes” series book was released, Heimerdinger sold more than 100 books in two hours at the BYU Bookstore book signing.

“People have come to love having him here,” Porter said. “He is very friendly at book signings. He’s just a warm, gracious person to have here. Customers love him. We expect a very good turnout when he’s here, and we’re never disappointed.”

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