Neri, G. (Greg Neri, Gregory Neri)

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Neri, G. (Greg Neri, Gregory Neri)

Personal

Married; wife's name Maggie (a professor of sociology); children: Zola.

Addresses

Home—Tampa, FL. Agent—Edward Necarsulmer, McIntosh & Otis, Inc., 353 Lexington Ave., New York, NY 10016. E-mail—[email protected]

Career

Author, filmmaker, artist, and digital media producer. Head of production for two media companies, 1993-2003; AnimAction, Inc., Calabasas, CA, teacher of animation and storytelling and producer of films. Film work includes (co-director) Fa'a Samoa (documentary); (director and producer) A Picasso on the Beach; and (writer, producer, and director) A Weekend with Barbara und Ingrid.

Awards, Honors

Student Academy Award finalist, for A Picasso on the Beach; Notable Children's Book designation, American Library Association, Notable Children's Book designation, International Reading Association, Best Children's Book selection, Bank Street College of Education, and Best Book in the Language Arts designation, Society of School Librarians International, all 2008, all for Chess Rumble.

Writings

FOR YOUNG ADULTS

Chess Rumble, illustrated by Jesse Joshua Watson, Lee & Low (New York, NY), 2007.

Yummy: The Last Days of a Southside Shorty, illustrated by Randy DuBurke, Lee & Low (New York, NY), 2009.

Surf Mules, Putnam (New York, NY), 2009.

Caught, Putnam (New York, NY), 2010.

OTHER

(And producer and director; as Gregory Neri) A Weekend with Barbara und Ingrid (screenplay), Angelika Films, 1994.

(Illustrator; as Greg Neri) Gina Shaw, Hooray for Teeth!, Scholastic (New York, NY), 2001.

Sidelights

Storyteller, digital media producer, and film maker G. Neri is the author of Chess Rumble, an award-winning illustrated novella for young adults. "I came to writing late in my life, quite by accident," Neri remarked on his home page. "When I was a kid, I wanted to be a cartoonist. Most of my life I was a visual storyteller (film, artist, illustrator). The only connection now is that, as a language artist, I … paint with words."

Chess Rumble concerns Marcus, an angry youth from a tough neighborhood who learns to channel his frustrations with the help of a local chess master. "Chess Rumble was inspired by many of the black chess mentors out there running chess programs for inner city kids," Neri stated in an online interview with Heidi R. Kling. "The way some mentors applied chess strategy to real life was inspiring and something I personally believed in." Recalling his own work with youngsters in South Central Los Angeles, Neri added: "I dealt with a few kids who were the big and silent type. They kept everything bottled inside of them and it came out in ugly ways sometimes. I thought a kid like this up against a tough love mentor in an urban setting would be rife with possibilities."

Told in free verse, Chess Rumble centers on the relationship between Marcus, a fatherless middle schooler who is still grieving over the recent death of his sister, and CM, a chess-club adviser who teaches the inner-city youngster to battle with wits instead of fists. According to Booklist critic Gillian Engberg, "Neri makes clear, without overstating, how Marcus' sense of being misunderstood amplifies his frustrations." Jill Heritage Maza, writing in School Library Journal, similarly noted that the author "expertly captures Marcus's voice and delicately teases out his alternating vulnerability and rage." "There's plenty of powerful emotion here," a contributor in Kirkus Reviews concluded of Chess Rumble.

Biographical and Critical Sources

PERIODICALS

Booklist, January 1, 2008, review of Chess Rumble, p. 74.

Kirkus Reviews, October 1, 2007, review of Chess Rumble.

School Library Journal, November, 2007, Jill Heritage Maza, review of Chess Rumble, p. 132.

ONLINE

G. Neri Home Page,http://www.gregneri.com (January 20, 2009).

G. Neri Web log,http://gneri.livejournal.com/ (January 20, 2009).

Heidi R. Kling Web log,http://seaheidi.livejournal.com/ (October 19, 2007), interview with Neri.