From the author of STARGIRL, a powerful novel of a young boy who is like all kids, yet unlike all kids. Loser is unique, a one-off, a touching and powerful book about the pull of individuality over the need to fit in...Donald Zinkoff has a problem. And it isn't just his name. Though, having a name beginning with Z does cause him lots of problems, ...
From the author of STARGIRL, a powerful novel of a young boy who is like all kids, yet unlike all kids. Loser is unique, a one-off, a touching and powerful book about the pull of individuality over the need to fit in...Donald Zinkoff has a problem. And it isn't just his name. Though, having a name beginning with Z does cause him lots of problems, not least making him last to be called for everything. Donald's main problem is his happiness; his enthusiasm - particularly for school where he arrives early every day. His happiness leads to laughter - loud laughter. It sometimes gets him into trouble at school. It sometimes gives people the wrong impression. His classmates think he is bonkers, a bit of a problem, a loser. But Donald is blissfully unaware of this. He thinks when they cheer and jeer him, that they like him. He thinks when they don't pick him for their team, oh well, maybe tomorrow. Donald is the eternal optimist - a delight. Throughout his school life there are people that recognize his individuality and admire him; two of his teachers; the old lady he 'delivers' mail too; Claudia, the little girl who lives down the road, always on a harness, in case she runs away; The Waiting Man - still waiting after thirty years for his son to return from Vietnam. And most of all, his parents, and sister, Polly, who love him to bits and will always be there to support him.The novel offers snapshots of Donald's life as he progresses through his first year in school, to his graduation to High School. It is warm, witty and wonderful and has the reader reaching for a hanky and shouting 'Go, Donald, go!' simultaneously. With some of his finest writing to date, Jerry Spinelli uses wit and emotion to create this unique novel about a unique person. As with Stargirl and Wringer, the author writes about the power of individuality over the need to fit in; the importance of attitudes to failure and how any name can ultimately be replaced with 'hero'.
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Publishers Weekly, 2002-02-11 Spinelli (Maniac Magee; Stargirl) here enters the consciousness of the social pariah. Beginning with Donald Zinkoff's early days of invisibility and ignorant bliss ("Maybe it annoys you that he seems to be having even more fun than you, but it's a one-second thought and it's over," says the omniscient narrator in the opening chapter), the narrative follows the boy through his instant love for Satterfield Elementary School, then zeroes in on the turning point: "In fourth grade Zinkoff is discovered.... Big-kid eyes are picky. They notice things that the little-kid eyes never bothered with.... Twenty-seven classmates now turn their new big-kid eyes to Zinkoff." On field day in June, the fourth graders call him as they see him: "Each pronounces it perfectly. `Loser.' " Through the use of the omniscient narrator, Spinelli builds up to the boy's "unveiling" with examples of Zinkoff's uncontrollable giggling in first grade, his one-sided friendship with his next-door neighbor, and his forced poor-sport behavior on the soccer field when the hero's team does not win. Spinelli balances Zinkoff's mistreatment by his peers with abundant love from his family and the friendship of the quirky neighbors to whom his postman father delivers mail especially the Waiting Man who patiently anticipates his brother's return from Vietnam, and a toddler attached to a clothesline with a leash. Spinelli creates no idealistic ending here; instead, with a near tragedy, the author demonstrates the differences between those who can continue to see with the more compassionate "little-kid eyes" and those who lose sight of what is truly important. Ages 8-12. (May) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Publishers Weekly, 2003-11-03 PW wrote in a starred review of this novel that begins with a boy's early days of invisibility and ignorant bliss, to the turning point when he is dubbed a loser, "The author demonstrates the difference between those who can see with compassionate `little-kid eyes' and those who lose sight of what is truly important." Ages 10-12 (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
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