Corbett, Sue

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CORBETT, Sue

PERSONAL:

Born in NY; married Tom Davidson (a newspaper manager); children: Conor, Liam, Brigit. Education: Fairfield University, graduate; University of Missouri Graduate School of Journalism, graduate. Hobbies and other interests: Tennis.

ADDRESSES:

Home—Tampa, FL. E-mail[email protected]

CAREER:

Journalist and author. Television reporter in Missouri, South Carolina, and Florida; Miami Herald, journalist, then children's book reviewer, beginning 1996.

AWARDS, HONORS:

International Reading Association Honor Book, and California Young Readers Medal, both 2006, both for 12 Again.

WRITINGS:

12 Again, Dutton (New York, NY), 2002.

Free Baseball, Dutton (New York, NY), 2006.

Contributor of reviews to Publishers Weekly.

SIDELIGHTS:

According to journalist Sue Corbett, it was inevitable that she would become a writer. "I put writing in the same category of essentials as food, air, and water," she told Cynthia Leitich Smith in an interview for Cynsations. "I write every day. Sometimes all day, with breaks for snacks, reading, laundry, baseball games, reading, piano lessons, homework, and reading. And tennis. Tennis is my drug." Despite her busy schedule, which revolves around three active children, Corbett found the time to write two novels for young readers, as well as maintaining her journalism career as a book reviewer for the Miami Herald.

Corbett's first novel, 12 Again, is the story of a grown woman who takes a magic potion and is stuck in a twelve-year-old body. As "Detta," the woman attends school with her twelve-year-old son; eventually, she is forced to tell all and ask the boy to help find a way she can change back to her normal self. Drawing on her own Irish-American heritage, Corbett laces the novel with concepts drawn from Irish fairy tales. "This many-layered tale of magic across generations gives the term coming-of-age fascinating new meaning," wrote Booklist contributor Diane Foote, and Janet Gillen noted in School Library Journal that "an extraordinary alchemy of elements … makes for an engaging read." Although some reviewers commented that Corbett's story will appeal more to adults than to young readers, as the author told Smith, "It's hard for me to believe how many kids have told me they love this book [despite] … the professional criticism." "Maybe every kid knows—or hopes—that's the way their sometimes difficult mother feels about them. Plus, there's a magical bunny."

In Corbett's second novel, Free Baseball, twelve-year-old Cuban-American Felix Piloto wants to be reunited with his father, who stayed behind in Cuba. His father is a professional baseball player, and to fill the shoes of his father's son Felix practices hard; while he loves the sport, it is also a way for him to connect with his dad. When the frustrated preteen has the opportunity to run away from home and become a batboy for a minor-league baseball team, Felix takes the chance. On his own, he ultimately learns unexpected things about his father, and also begins to appreciate his mother's sacrifices. "Corbett remains carefully true to Felix's view and interpretation of events," noted a Kirkus Reviews contributor, while Kara Schaff Dean, in her School Library Journal review, called Free Baseball "an engaging, well-written story with a satisfying ending." According to a Publishers Weekly critic, "Readers, especially those who share Felix's passion for baseball, will likely want to stick with the tale until the last pitch is thrown."

Free Baseball was inspired by Corbett's experience watching her son during a family ballpark event. All of the children in the audience were given the same colored shirt by the home-team managers to wear as they ran around the bases. When Corbett commented worriedly to another mother sitting in the stands that it was difficult to identify individual children on the field, the other mother responded: "Boy, if a kid wanted to run away, this would be a good time to do it!," as the writer recalled to Smith. "I swear, it was like being struck by lightning," she added. "Felix Piloto … whispered in my ear that very moment."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

Booklist, September 1, 2002, Diane Foote, review of 12 Again, p. 122.

Kirkus Reviews, June 15, 2002, review of 12 Again, p. 878; December 15, 2005, review of Free Baseball, p. 1320.

Kliatt, July, 2002, Claire Rosser, review of 12 Again, p. 8.

Publishers Weekly, January 9, 2006, review of Free Baseball, p. 54.

School Library Journal, July, 2002, Janet Gillen, review of 12 Again, p. 118; February, 2006, Kara Schaff Dean, review of Free Baseball, p. 128; May, 2006, Marilyn Taniguchi, review of Free Baseball, p. 61.

Voice of Youth Advocates, April, 2006, Kevin Beach, review of Free Baseball, p. 40.

ONLINE

Cynsations,http://cynthialeitichsmith.blogspot.com/ (February 6, 2006), Cynthia Leitich Smith, interview with Corbett.

Lee and Low Books Web site,http://www.leeandlow.com/ (November 6, 2006), Sue Corbett, "The Virtually-Do-It-Yourself Book Tour."

Sue Corbett Home Page,http://www.suecorbett.com (November 6, 2006).*