WHO IS JIM NICOSIA?
What? You don't already know? How can that be? What are you already doing at this website if you don't know who he is?
Okay, alright, we'll tell you already. Jeez, stop pestering us.
Jim Nicosia is the author of the (soon-to-be) famous children's book series with the unfortunately long title (all the good short ones were taken), Xavier Parentheses' 162-1/2 Reasons to Hate Love School, the equally (soon-to-be) famous picture book, Big Billy's Big Problem, and the astoundingly famous book series about the kid with special powers, Chameleon George. His upcoming book, Marathon, is already being discussed in Eastern European nations as a potential award-winner.
He grew up in New Jersey, Zimbabwe, the Netherlands and Sicily, but only one of them is true. Can you guess which one?
He has been, in no particular order:
a book fair chairperson
a volunteer soccer and baseball coach
a college professor
a volunteer tutor
a maintenance worker
a musician (thanks, Meg!)
...and every one of these things is true!
But the long version of the story is right here:
Jim Nicosia was born in Newark, New Jersey, on March 4, 1960, during one of the worst snowstorms of the century.
In fact, it was so bad, his father couldn’t even make it to the hospital on time for his birth. He made it three blocks in his old blue Rambler, then had to turn back home. A few hours later, waiting anxiously, he heard the phone ring. He answered it.
It was the doctor, who declared, “Congratulations, Mr. Nicosia, you’re a father. It’s a girl!”
Oh, yeah. That’s right. That’s the story of his sister’s birth.
Jim Nicosia was actually born in the same hospital five years and 24 days later. You can do the math for yourself. It was a Sunday. Only about 1 o’clock in the morning. Which means, for some people it was still Saturday night. But for his maternal grandmother (that means his mother’s mother), being born on a Sunday meant that little Jimmy was going to be Pope one day, or at least a priest. Sadly for her, it didn’t work out that way.
His dad's parents, Rosario and Josephine, came to America from Italy. Nicosia is actually a Greek word, which means conqueror. How cool is that?!
Jim grew up in Bloomfield, New Jersey, where he was a great speller, had friends like Scott and Mary Lou and Raymond and Becky, then moved to Clifton when he
was 10, had friends like Walt and Patrick, then went to Pope Paul VI Regional Country Club, er High School, for high school. There he became friends with Rob Mulligan and Dan Yaccarino
(yes, that Dan Yaccarino), Emidio Prochilo and Bob Salzer and Terri and Maryann and and… well, lots of other nice people. He had some great teachers there, like Mrs. Kerrigan and Mrs.
Jankowski, and some less than great teachers there, too. Isn’t that the way with everything, though? Oh, yeah, and his track coaches were Mr.
Search and Mr. Waage.
Jim thought he was going to be an accountant growing up, but when he realized that meant sitting in front of numbers all day (though he was good at math), he decided that wasn’t for him. So he became an English and economics double-major at Montclair State College, where he graduated with highest honors. The college was so impressed with Jim that it decided to become a University. Jim earned his Master's Degree in English from Montclair, where he had a straight-A average. As a reward, he was allowed to work as a cook in a great little restaurant in Garfield.
Jim got so used to going to school—it was, after all, 20 years, now—that he went to New York University to get his Doctoral degree. There he learned under some of the greatest teachers in the history of English, people like Denis Donoghue, Josephine Gattuso Hendin, and probably the greatest of all, Harold Bloom. Harold helped him publish his first book, which got good reviews and sold almost a thousand copies!
Because he was so used to being in school as a student, somewhere along the way, he decided to get on the other side of the desk and be a teacher. And, darned if he wasn’t pretty good at it. He even liked it a lot. So, he tried teaching older people, in what they call graduate school.
Teaching was a lot of fun, and he met this guy named Tony who brought him a lot of chocolate. Then he went on to teach high school for awhile. That was fun, too. Then he taught fourth to sixth grade gifted and talented students, and then—okay, so he taught just about every age.
The important thing was this: What he found in every situation was that kids were a lot smarter than adults gave them credit for, and that they liked listening to his odd and (sometimes) funny stories.
Jim took some time off from teaching to write stories for kids. He read a lot of them to his son and students, and they liked them a lot.
Unfortunately, publishers didn’t seem to like them as much, so he didn’t get any of them published.
He worked for a while for his father’s cleaning company, emptying wastebaskets and shining windows (no streaks!). He volunteered at his son’s library, and ran quite a few book fairs, where he loved getting good books by writers like Jon Scieszka and Dan Gutman and Megan McDonald and Rick Riordan into the hands of kids aged 5 to 12.
One day, while surfing the internet for no good reason, he accidentally opened an old file of one of the stories he had written after college. He read it, and said, "Darn, I could write this better today than I did 10 years ago."
So he did. That story earned him a million-dollar book contract, and started him on the career to superstardom!
Jim can be found in Lima, Peru; Bogota, Colombia; Vernazza, Italy; Wildwood Crest, NJ; and Northern New Jersey at various points of the year. It would be really, really odd if you actually found him in Lima, though.
Jim’s favorite color is vibrant medium blue (like the background color of this website). His favorite foods are pasta and fish. His favorite sports are hockey, baseball, football, and curling. He has two cats, Cookie and Muffin, and if he and his wife had any more kids, he would like to name them: Calvin, Kayleigh, Alex (boy), Alex (girl), Sebastian, Angelo, Spider, Dante, Cary, Katniss, and Matteo.
His brother-in-law Steve was the first person to find an error in this website, which means Steve wins a free lifetime subscription to the site!