Novel "I Love Judo, I Love Sandra"

To the readers and publishers

Let us introduce you the novel „I Love Judo, I Love Sandra“, sports novel about judo intended to middle grade & young adult, written by Croatian author Danica Juričić Spasović.

Here is the brief outline of the plot:
You don’t have to be big and strong in order to win read the inscription on the notice which looked to the boy Antonio like a solution of all his problems.

This eleven-year old seeks delivery from the street and school bullies, new friends, strength and confidence in a judo club. Antonio experiences all the phases of judo from the moment when he first put on the kimono up to the test for the yellow belt and participation at the first competition. And not only that! Through judo Antonio learns how to acquire confidence and courage. In this he is helped by the coach who teaches the young judokas tolerance, self-respect, but also the respect of the rival, and thus also teaches them the realities of life.

The founder of judo, Jigoro Kano is often quoted in the book, speaking about judo as a kind of education focused on making us better people. For many reasons this novel is interesting both to boys and girls training some other sport, or not involved in sport at all.

Pervaded with the rapture and affliction of the first love for a girl, sweet Sandra, school tricks and judo club gimmicks, persistence, courage, difficult decisions, the feeling of victory, laughter and occasional tears – this is a novel to remember.

The author, Danica Juričić Spasović, has been awarded by International Judo Federation (IJF) for the promotion of Judo educational values in literature.

Synopsis & Impressions

Synopsis “I Love Judo, I Love Sandra”

Antonio is being teased for looking like a girl on account of his longish, blond hair. His peers in the new neighbourhood did not really take to him, and soon he is about to experience more trouble. Antonio is in love with Sandra. This happened all of a sudden when he had moved to the new hood. Troubles come in pairs. The Kombol street gang also started physically assaulting him alarmingly frequently. Apart from love, Antonio’s heart is home to – fear.

You don’t have to be big and strong in order to win read the inscription on the notice which looked to the boy Antonio like a solution for all his problems. This eleven-year old seeks delivery from the street and school bullies, new friends, strength and confidence in a judo club.

However, the not-so-fit and insecure Antonio suddenly, even within the judo club, meets all his persecutors – Hornet and Snake – boys with such vicious nicknames train in the very same judo club as well. Snake immediately tackles him in an ungentlemanly manner so Antonio hurts his arm. But Antonio immediately wins the protection of the coach and the team who do not condone unsportslike behaviour and hooligan outbursts. He is helped by the judo coach who teaches the young judokas tolerance, self-respect, but also the respect of the rival, and thus the realities of life. He was safe in the judo gym. This prompted Antonio to continue practicing judo.

The smouldering confrontation among boys continues unabated in the school. The tension escalates in a real, nauseating man fight not seen in the school hall for quite a while. Antonio is provoked by the ginger, twelve year old Hornet. This Hornet is a deft lier so teachers cannot determine who the culprit is.

The judo club becomes Antonio’s oasis. He befriends the fat boy Nikola. He is too heavy, a clumsy judo player, who does not have it easy himself. Nikola puts up every day with mocking like: “Fatso, fatso!” Antonio, as a much smaller and softer boy, finds himself in front of an impossible mission: he must use the uki goshi throw to get Nikola over himself, a boy five times heavier and larger. But when he succeeds in doing this, he discovers the secret to judo, which says: “You do not have to be big and strong in order to win.”

In school, the enamoured Antonio trembles in front of Sandra, but, apart from girl issues, he must also contend with dangerous moments in his life. Hornet loses all control and has his brutish way with Antonio in the judo club. Because of this dangerous incident, the coach Zeli mercilessly expels Hornet from further lessons. Even though it seems to Antonio he is a free man at last, he is in for the greatest disappointment possible in life – his love, Sandra, confides to him she is in love with his best friend, Marko.

But coach Zeli is more than a coach, he is a friend to his athletes. He sniffs Antonio’s troubles. And, during a confidential conversation, Antonio tells him of his ill fated love. “As in case of everything else you care for, you must try hard, especially in order to win a medal and the female heart,” is Zeli’s advice.

Finally, Antonio is facing his very first judo competition. Within the team is his enemy Hornet too. Since the time he was expelled because of the row with Antonio, the dangerous Hornet was absent for two whole months. He has returned much calmer, and trained his way into getting an invitation from the coach for the competition. But even when the whole club roots for Hornet at the competition, it is but Antonio who cannot clap – not even when Hornet is winning. Nevertheless, when the bronze medal is awarded and when the whole team ranks up to congratulate Hornet, Antonio shakes hands with him too.

The judo club team are before an important test – the state team championship. The team of seven must breathe as one if they want to beat other, very strong and ready teams. But, due to ill circumstances, Luka is injured, and to the surprise of many, Antonio joins the team as one of the weakest. Nobody believes in him but the coach. Quite unpredictably, everything depends on Antonio, but this boy gathers all his fight stamina and his heartiest supporter in the decisive fight to collective win becomes none other than Hornet. They did not expect Antonio to win. Nobody did. But the win is there. Antonio and Hornet jump up and down, embraced. The whole team is in frenzy. The two boys, Antonio and Hornet, as well as the whole judo team, remain lifelong friends, connected through sport since childhood. Based on a true story.

Impressions from the book publicity event ( Croatia 2012)

The book editor, writer Velimir Visković, applauded the vivacity of the dialogue in this serious book that would make a good template for a children’s action film. He expressed his hope the author would not stop at this one book and not neglect her great talent due to different tasks, from being a mother to her political career.

Dubravka Težak, literary theorist specialising in titles for children and youth also spoke about the book: - The first chapter has been written in Kušan-like style of the crime novel with the atmosphere of children’s horror, while the second part proves the author wanted to convey a story on growing up and coming of age, and show kids they must not give up or lose their hope. The author did not approach this motif of children’s literature, the theme of child gangs, through stereotypes, for the bunch of hoodlums of the contemporary metropolis have no special ideas or interests, and exhibit the energy excess through bullying those weaker, younger and different from themselves.

This book is great contribution to prevention of peer violence and should be listed on school curriculums in order to enable every child to read it, Gordana Buljan Flander, Head of the Policlinic for the Protection of Children of the City of Zagreb, said, adding that the author found solutions for each of groups of children within the violence phenomenon: perpetrators, victims, but also those silently watching.

The value of this book lies in the fact it is telling children adults too can help and that they should be turned to in case of violence, Buljan Flander emphasised.

The author Danica Juričić Spasović said the following: - For the main protagonist of the novel life is struggle in the street and in the school, and this struggle is perhaps taught best through judo, as education on how to become a better person and how one must sometimes give in - in order to win.

Impressions oy young readers

Getting together with Danica Juricic Spasovic

On Wednesday, 24th of April we welcomed in our school a special guest, writer and journalist, Ms. Danica Juricic Spasovic. See photo gallery

She presented to us her first children's novel "I Love Judo, I Love Sandra", a beautiful story about childhood and unbreakable friendship. We would like to thank Ms. Danica Juricic Spasovic for her visit and look forward to our next meeting and her new book.

MYP2 students had the opportunity to interview Ms. Danica Juricic Spasovic and find out more about her work. Here is the record of their impressions:

I really enjoyed taking part of the book presentation. The book "I Love Judo, I Love Sandra" is really directed to us and she presented the book by answering our questions and telling us little anecdotes from her life.
Greta, MYP2

It was very interesting and she gave advice, concerning life and writing stories.
Laura, MYP2

I really liked meeting with Ms. Danica Juricic Spasovic, the author of "I Love Judo, I Love Sandra". It was very inspiring and fun. She told us some advice and tips about life.
Nora, MYP2

I found the whole event to be a real delight and it is surely something we won't forget any time soon. It was fascinating how not only she talked about her story "I Love Judo, I Love Sandra", but also her life story.
Ruzica, MYP2

Similarly happened in my life as in this book “I Love Judo, I Love Sandra”. Just my girlfriend called differently, I will not tell you her name.
Jakov (10 years) practicing judo and has a yellow belt.

I would say the book is special because it talks about the real problems of children of my age and give us lot of good solutions. I realized that you do not have to be "superhero", as in fiction, but in real life you can be a hero as well. It takes great perseverance and courage to deal with the problems, for example, because of physical appearance. Another thing I learned is: there is always someone who will be your friend. You are never completely alone.
Maria Vujinović (14 years)

This is a book about friendship, life, relationship between parents and children, a love story. I was so touched and at the end I couldn’t have prevented the tears. Ingenious is the best novel I've ever read, will remain in my memory.
Ema Trostmann (12 years)

I recognized in the book myself, my friends and almost my entire class.
Marko Dolić (12 years)

Information about the book 'I love Judo, i love Sandra'

The book was published 2012., by Profil Editors, Croatia (the title of novel in Croatian „Volim džudo, volim Sandru“, 12 chapters and on approximately 450.000 characters with spaces ), and has achieved very significant success among the school children on the Croatian market.

The book has been already published in Hungarian: „Szeretem Judo, szeretem Sandra“

WE ARE LOOKING FOR A PUBLISHER. Association MOVEMENT (POKRET) has the copyright of this book (outside Croatia).

SUPPORT OF IJF TO THE INTERESTED PUBLISHER for the English and French - speaking
With the support of IJF the book has been translated in English and French. IJF recognized this novel as an original option for promoting judo values which have educational value not only for judo athletes but for all children. There is number of countries where judo is a popular sport (worldwide on approximately 200 and 50 in Europe ), and which is also a large market for book sales. Therefore, we seek for a publisher in English and French area speaking. IJF is willing to help to the interested publisher with their network of World Judo community.

President of IJF Mr Marius Vizer awarded recognition to the author for this novel that promotes judo in Budapest 2014. This is novel intended for children of 10 to 14. Both judo beginners but also older judokas, who remember with nostalgia the nice moments spent in their judo clubs, will recognize themselves in this book. This is also a vibrant and beautiful story about the growing up and inseverable friendship of judokas who trained and competed together.

Danica Juričić Spasović

Danica Juričić Spasović
Born November 2, 1967, in Zagreb, Croatia. Received her degree in journalism at the Zagreb Faculty of Political Science (1995).

She was a professional journalist for nearly 20 years. As an accredited journalist with the Croatian Parliament and the Government (2000 – 2008), she worked for the Croatian national news agency, HINA, the Dnevnik business daily (EPH) and weekly (Bonnier). She published research topics on economy and politics, and culture, and interviews with regional political leaders as well.

In 1995 she was a scholar of the Thompson Foundation Scholarship, Cardiff, UK – a foundation for journalists.
Alumni (2012) United States Department of State – Multi-Regional Project on “US Presidential Primaries 2012”.
Head of the Cabinet of the President of the Republic of Croatia (2010.-2015.)
Spokesperson of Croatian Social Democratic Party (2015.- )
Published the book “I Love Judo, I Love Sandra”, children’s tale (2012)
Soon will be published her novel for young adult “I’m taking you in Tokyo).

Announcement of novel "I’m Taking You to Tokyo"

“I’m Taking You to Tokyo” is a moving tale about a teenager who has gone astray and cannot get back easily. Once he is in the hands of the police, Goran understands he will have a hard time leaving bad company and that he is in for some real hell now. You will follow him through at least two unusual places: a juvenile prison and Japan. However, amid the murky story a magic of goodness occurs. In a wondrous way, Goran receives a chance to get back, because particles of good change his world.

Even the toughest of you should not be surprised if a tear or two slide down reading this story. Aficionados of Japan and judo will be especially flattered with descriptions of Japan, Tokyo, the Japanese culture and events in the renowned Kodokanu, where, in the midst of all teenage girls, one Japanese is special. This is Nami.