New Canaan novelist, journalist and broadcaster Mike Lupica will celebrate the publication of his latest young adult book, "The Underdogs" (Philomel), with a reading and signing at R.J. Julia Booksellers in Madison on Wednesday, Sept. 21, at 7 p.m.

After writing a series of popular mysteries and sports novels for adults, Lupica tapped into a new audience with his sports stories for younger readers and quickly found himself one of the most popular writers in the genre.

In a "Book Beat" interview for his YA novel, Lupica joked that he is not in the same league as J.K. Rowling -- who is? -- but his young adult stories have consistently topped the New York Times best-seller list.

The title of the new book could probably have been used for any of the earlier novels because Lupica writes about kids who have been counted out or grossly underrated before proving that they have what it takes to succeed in sports.

Because he doesn't write down to the YA market, Lupica's books can be enjoyed by older readers just as the Harry Potter novels have crossed over to the adult market.

"The Underdogs" is about a motherless boy living in a financially depressed Pennsylvania town who not only has to prove himself capable of playing football, but also has to rally his neighbors when the local sneaker factory closes, leaving the team it sponsored -- the Forbes Flyers -- with no funding.

Lupica has proven himself to be an heir to Frank Capra in showing how an individual can succeed in the face of seemingly overwhelming opposition.

Visit www.rjjulia.com.