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'Swindle,' book by Great Neck dad, made into Nickelodeon movie

Savannah (Jeanette McCurdy), Darren (Noah Munck) and Amanda

Savannah (Jeanette McCurdy), Darren (Noah Munck) and Amanda (Ariana Grande) in "Swindle" on Nickelodeon. Credit: Nickelodeon

Daisy Korman of Great Neck is smack dab in the Nickelodeon TV sweet spot -- age 11, going into middle school. So she's thrilled that her father's book "Swindle" has been made into a TV movie starring Nickelodeon hotshots Jennette McCurdy and Ariana Grande, premiering Saturday night at 8.

"I love Jennette McCurdy. She's one of my idols," Daisy says of the star of the hit shows "iCarly" and "Sam & Cat." "I think it's really cool to have my dad's book a movie on Nickelodeon. All my friends can watch it and tell me if it's good."

"Swindle" is the story of a boy named Griffin who finds an old baseball card and sells it to a dishonest collector who gives him a few hundred dollars for the million-dollar card. When Griffin finds out he's been swindled, he and his friends plan a heist to retrieve the card. "It's morally supportable because they are stealing back what is rightfully theirs," author Gordon Korman says during an interview in his Great Neck kitchen. "It's almost like 'Ocean's Eleven' for kids."

For Korman, August is a productive month -- in addition to the debut of "Swindle," Korman has a new book coming out for ages 8 to 12 called "The Hypnotists" (Scholastic, $16.99). It's the first installment of an adventure trilogy about a Manhattan kid with the gift -- or is it the curse? -- of hypnotism.

Korman, 49, has published more than 80 books for kids and young adults, including several in Scholastic's "The 39 Clues" series. His first book -- "This Can't Be Happening at McDonald Hall" -- was published when he was 14 and growing up outside Toronto. Korman attended New York University and moved to Great Neck after having kids -- he and his wife have three: Jay, 14, Daisy, and Leo, 8. Korman's wife, Michelle, teaches reading in the Great Neck school district.

Korman's suburban family life creeps into his books, he says. "Swindle," for instance, takes place in a fictional Long Island town called Cedarville, and his older son's offhand quote about the unexpected tameness of dog show competitions -- "I thought they had to jump through flaming Hula Hoops" -- shows up in the dialogue of Korman's book "Showoff."

Korman says he loves writing for middle-grade readers. "It's the first time you decide what to be a fan of," he says. "You become in charge of your own opinions, choosing a book not just because Mom reads it with those great voices."

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