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Short Kuts

A kid's middling hoops game inspires best-seller.

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Short CutsSportswriter Mike Lupica practically stumbled into his newest gig as a best-selling author of young-adult novels. When one of his sons was cut from the seventh-grade basketball squad, Lupica suspected it was because he was too short. So he wrote Travel Team for all the kids who weren't considered good enough to play with the big boys. "Someone told me, 'If this were a movie, you'd start your own team and play the biggest team in town,'" he says. "A week later, I became the owner and general manager of a seventh-grade travel basketball team." Travel Team is based on that experience.Soon after Travel Team became an instant hit with preteens, Lupica's family realized he was on to something. "My wife says writing from inside the mind of a 12-year-old boy is perfect casting," he laughs. The New York Daily News columnist just published a pair of books in a brand-new series, Mike Lupica's Comeback Kids, which champions not-so-natural jocks. "They're a measure of one's heart, talent, character, and spirit," he says. More than anything, Lupica says, he's proud of the fact that he's getting children to spend their free time with his stories. "Parents tell me that their kids never wanted to read before these books came along," he says. The novels — packed with underdogs, sports, and big finishes — are perfect pick-me-ups for any boy or girl feeling down in the dumps. "I never give the kids more than they can handle," says Lupica. "Everyone has a story like this." Lupica will be at Joseph-Beth Booksellers (24519 Cedar Road in Lyndhurst) at 7 tonight. Admission is free. Call 216-691-7000 or visit www.josephbeth.com.
Wed., Nov. 7, 7 p.m., 2007

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