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G. Neri

G. Neri is the author of an illustrated novella called Chess Rumble (Lee and Low Books, Fall 2007).

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Biography:
headshot_gneri.jpgG. Neri is a storyteller, filmmaker, artist, and digital media producer. His animated film collaboration with jazz legend Chick Corea, A Picasso on the Beach, was a student Academy Award finalist and aired on HBO and Bravo for seven years. He followed this with an independent feature called A Weekend with Barbara und Ingrid, which he wrote, produced, and directed.

G. Neri has taught animation and storytelling to inner city teens in Los Angeles with the ground-breaking group Animaction, producing over 300 films dealing with issues relevant to the kids: violence, gangs, and drugs. He directed the documentary Fa’a Samoa which followed a 15-year-old Samoan gangbanger who had shamed his village, through the mean streets of Los Angeles.

From 1993-2003, Mr. Neri helped pioneer the internet business, as head of production in two highly successful new media companies whose clients ranged from Disney and MGM studios to Microsoft, Reebok, and General Motors. He was one of the founding members of the Truth teen anti-smoking campaign.

G. Neri currently resides in Tampa, Florida with his wife and daughter, where he is focusing on writing for teens. His first two books for Lee and Low, Yummy and Chess Rumble, will make their debuts in 2007 and 2008. He is currently finishing a YA novel about two high school surfers who get summer jobs as drug runners.

Book: Chess Rumble
chess_rumble.jpgby G. Neri, illustrated by Jesse Watson
For ages 8 and up

Three moves
is all it takes
to change the outcome
of the game.

In Marcus’s world, battles are fought everyday—on the street, at home, and in school. Angered by his sister’s death and his father’s departure, and pushed to the brink by a bullying classmate, Marcus fights back with his fists.

One punch away from being kicked out of school and his home, Marcus encounters a mysterious chess master named CM who challenges him to fight his battles on the chess board. Marcus resists, until he hits rock bottom, and begins a journey, with CM’s help, to regain control of his life.

Inspired by recent chess enrichment programs in inner-city schools, Chess Rumble explores the ability of a strategic game to empower young people with the tools they need to anticipate their moves through life’s many challenges.

Reviews:
“‘In my ’hood, battles is fought every day,’ quips Marcus, an angry middle schooler on the brink of big trouble. His words, rife with frustration, tumble across page after page in free-flowing verse as he paints a picture of his quickly fading innocence. In the short time since his sister’s death, memories of eating ice cream and giggling have been replaced by the bleak reality of a persistent bully, fist fights, and an absent dad. After begrudgingly meeting CM, Chess Master, the school’s ‘bad dude’ chess club adviser, an extended ‘battle’ metaphor unfolds, concluding as Marcus takes responsibility for his own actions and moves his fighting off the street and onto the chessboard… . Chess Rumble works, and works well. Neri expertly captures Marcus’s voice and delicately teases out his alternating vulnerability and rage. The cadence and emotion of the verse are masterfully echoed through Watson’s expressive acrylic illustrations. Blacks, whites, and grays echo the concrete world of Marcus’s urban home and, even more so, his despairing mood. Scattered chess pieces evoke the crescendo of the boy’s temper. The closing scene tenderly catches tough-guy Marcus in a smile as he pounds fists with CM before sitting down to do battle, a stark contrast to his opening image, one dominated entirely by his fist. This book will become a standby pick for reluctant readers, who will be pulled in before they know it by the story’s quick pace and the authenticity of Marcus’s voice and experience.”—SCHOOL LIBRARY JOURNAL

“‘Battles is fought every day’ in 11-year-old Marcus’s ’hood. Not only has his father abandoned the family, but his sister has recently died, leaving him frustrated, angry and ready to fight—even with his worried, red-eyed mother and his younger twin brothers. Just as his volatility starts to get him into real trouble, Marcus meets a Yoda-like chess master and ex-con in the school library who challenges him to a game of chess. At first, Marcus’s ‘opening move’ is to hurl the chessboard groundward, but in time, he learns to master the game—and his temper. Marcus tells his story in street slang, in a conversational first-person voice…The acrylic black-and-white illustrations are particularly effective at capturing natural expressions and the concrete-gray inner-cityscape.”— KIRKUS REVIEWS