Marisabina Russo House of Sports

ISBN 13: 9780066238043

House of Sports

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9780066238043: House of Sports

For Jim, there's nothing in the world like dribbling a basketall downcourt, hearing the squeak of his sneakers, feeling the pebbled surface of the bouncing ball, flying for the basket. Basketball is everything.

But Jim is short, and it's not easy being a short basketball player. He's worked hard to get onto the traveling team, and now he's determined to earn himself a starting position -- if only his grandmother doesn't mess things up for him. Every weekend the family does something with Nana, and sometimes Jim is forced to miss his Saturday practice. Coach Mondini isn't the type to understand if a player misses practice or arrives late....

Jim's parents tell him he can learn a lot from Nana, but Jim is worried that his obligations to her may lose him the one thing he cares about -- his place on the basketball team.

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About the Author:

From the time I could hold a pencil, I loved to draw. My mother was a single parent who worked full time, and my brothers were much older than I was. It seemed like I spent a lot of time alone. Drawing and, later, writing kept me company.

I was very shy. My mother was always introducing me to little girls who lived in our apartment building in Queens, New York. I became good friends with one girl named Roberta, whose mother was an artist. When they moved to a house a few blocks away, Roberta's mother set up a studio in the attic and gave art lessons. I went with them to sketch in the park. We took the subway into Manhattan to visit museums. I knew I wanted to be an artist.

In the sixth grade I read The Diary of Anne Frank and decided to keep a journal. I keep one to this day. In the seventh grade I started writing short stories. I had a wonderful English teacher, Miss Rothenberg, who encouraged me to write. My first published story appeared in the junior high school literary magazine.

While I dreamed of going to art school, my mother steered me to a liberal arts college, Mount Holyoke. Being a studio art major there was a bit outside the mainstream and, later, having a Mount Holyoke degree didn't open any doors when I began searching for work as an illustrator. But I did get a tremendous education, which serves me well every day of my life.

My early illustration jobs were for magazines, eventually for The New Yorker. I got my first book illustrating job (a cookbook) when I was pregnant with my first child. Other books followed, and two more children. It was only after my third baby was born that an illustrator friend arranged for me to meet Susan Hirschman at Greenwillow. He had to really push me to make the appointment because I was pretty much consumed with motherhood (and exhausted!) The Line Up Book was my first picture book. My son Sam was obsessed with lining up objects all over our house, and that had been my inspiration.

The stories I write usually happen that way. My children say or do something that sticks in my mind. Or I remember something from my own childhood. I mull it over and over and expand it and come up with a story. The initial idea is usually the easy part, but giving it shape, rhythm, and a climax is much more difficult. Painting the pictures is the most fun of all.

There is no other job I would want. Every day when I sit down to work in my studio--which is a bedroom in my house--I feel very lucky and very happy.

From School Library Journal:

Grades 6-8--Seventh-grader Jim Malone is obsessed with basketball, much to the dismay of his tough, funny, and intelligent grandmother, who is a Holocaust survivor. The relationship between him and his 82-year-old Nana is at the heart of this rich and touching novel, which perfectly captures the many moods and thought processes of a 12-year-old boy. At first, Jim is irritated by the woman's slow ways and immigrant outlook. He gradually realizes, however, that they share a special bond, and that she is leaving him a rich legacy-the stories from her past. This understanding deepens after his grandmother has a stroke. When Jim finds the speech she had planned to give at a Holocaust survivors' meeting in Washington, he makes up his mind to deliver it himself, much to his family's astonishment. Other aspects of the novel deal with the protagonist's relationship with his teammates and his family, his first serious friendship with a girl, and his grandmother's death. Throughout, the author nicely balances the comic and the tragic, creating scenes that ring true. Some readers may be put off by the book's cover and title, thinking that it is only about basketball. They will be pleased to learn that this is really a novel about growing up.
Todd Morning, Schaumburg Township Public Library, IL
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

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