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Loser Paperback – July 29, 2003
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Batman Character Encyclopedia
From Robin to the Joker, this compact, informative collection is your guide into over 75 years of the Dark Knight's friends and foes. Hardcover
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The author recounts Zinkoff's story--a case study of sorts--in short sentences from a deliberately reportorial point of view, documenting the first years of the boy's life and his evolution into a loser. What makes the book charming and buoyant is that the reader, like Zinkoff's parents and his favorite teacher, appreciates the boy's oblivious joie de vivre and his divine quirks. What is less compelling about the novel is the "let this be a lesson to us" heavy-handedness that accompanies the reportorial approach. Still, Spinelli comes through again with a lively, often moving story with humor and heart to spare. (Ages 8 to 12) --Karin Snelson --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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More About the Author
One night during high school, Spinelli watched the football team win an exciting game against one of the best teams in the country. While everyone else rode about town tooting horns in celebration, Spinelli went home and wrote "Goal to Go," a poem about the game's defining moment, a goal-line stand. His father submitted the poem to the Norristown Times-Herald and it was featured in the middle of the sports page a few days later. He then traded in his baseball bat for a pencil, because he knew that he wanted to become a writer.
After graduating from Gettysburg College with an English degree, Spinelli worked full time as a magazine editor. Every day on his lunch hour, he would close his office door and craft novels on yellow magazine copy paper. He wrote four adult novels in 12 years of lunchtime writing, but none of these were accepted for publication. When he submitted a fifth novel about a 13-year-old boy, adult publishers once again rejected his work, but children's publishers embraced it. Spinelli feels that he accidentally became an author of children's books.
Spinelli's hilarious books entertain both children and young adults. Readers see his life in his autobiography Knots in My Yo-Yo String, as well as in his fiction. Crash came out of his desire to include the beloved Penn Relays of his home state of Pennsylvania in a book, while Maniac Magee is set in a fictional town based on his own hometown.
When asked if he does research for his writing, Spinelli says: "The answer is yes and no. No, in the sense that I seldom plow through books at the library to gather material. Yes, in the sense that the first 15 years of my life turned out to be one big research project. I thought I was simply growing up in Norristown, Pennsylvania; looking back now I can see that I was also gathering material that would one day find its way into my books."
On inspiration, the author says: "Ideas come from ordinary, everyday life. And from imagination. And from feelings. And from memories. Memories of dust in my sneakers and humming whitewalls down a hill called Monkey."
Spinelli lives with his wife and fellow writer, Eileen, in West Chester, Pennsylvania. While they write in separate rooms of the house, the couple edits and celebrates one another's work. Their six children have given Jerry Spinelli a plethora of clever material for his writing.
Top Customer Reviews
teacher I began reading aloud to my middle school students.
Shame on me! I should have begun on day one. Not only did my
students love it (Southwest Detroit), but I learned that young
adult fiction can be as exciting and heartwarming as anything
written for an adult. My students loved Maniac Magee, Crash, and The Library Card by Spinelli. They begged me to read just one more chapter each day. Of course, they also loved when Ms. Kirsch got too teary-eyed and had to call on a student to read.
I have been the librarian in our school for the past 3 years
and always have a young adult novel alongside my other reads.
Jerry Spinelli is my favorite. Wringer, Stargirl, and now Loser
are among my all-time most special books. I forget the storylines
of many other books I have read, but never Jerry Spinelli's. I
am able to recount each character and the circumstances that
were important in their lives.
Loser is a very special book. Donald Zinkoff is an extra-
ordinary character. His giraffe hat, his love for school, his
uncontrollable giggles, his belief that he runs so fast. He
wants to sit in that first seat in class, and yet his last name
dooms him to the last seat in the last row. Until the 4th grade
when his teacher seats him in the first row. Oh, how he loves
that teacher. Yahoo!
Zinkoff reminds me of no other student I have ever encountered. Maybe by the time they get to sixth grade, they
have had that exhuberance knocked out of them. Maybe that is
why I cried so hard while reading this book.
While Donald becomes a hero in our mind while searching for
the girl on a leash in a snowstorm, Spinelli doesn't rally the
classmates in a stunning salute. He eases us out, and I guess
we know that things are going to be all right for Zinkoff.
I enjoyed reading Loser for a number of reasons. First, the plot of Loser is a simple one that I think every human-young and old-can relate to. Everyone's been teased one time or another. I think it would be an interesting experience for all readers to see how one character deals with being teased. Zinkoff is such a complicated character because he doesn't even realize that others see him as a loser. Most people would feel hurt and embarrassed (maybe even angry) if they were in Donald's shoes, but not Zinkoff.
Because he is so oblivious to his classmate's taunts, I started to believe that there was more to Zinkoff than Jerry Spinelli was saying. Is Zinkoff just clumsy and weird or does he suffer from real learning and behavioral disabilities? I kept hoping Spinelli would explain more about Donald and his condition.Read more ›
Loser is the story Donald Zinkoff as he moves from the first through the sixth grades. In essence, it is the story of how "winners" and "losers" are created. In the early grades, Zinkoff may be a little odd but his peers have not yet learned how and why to exclude certain children. As time goes on, however, Zinkoff's love of school (despite his rather limited abilities) and, in particular, poor performance at sports makes him an outcast.
It should be understood that this novel is basically an interesting character study of a single character--Zinkoff. Despite the rather dramatic wandering in the snowstorm near the end of the book, there is not a lot of action beyond the ordinary day-to-day events in the life of a young man. But this is one of the things that gives this book its charm. That, and Zinkoff's own obliviousness to his social status. It is nice to see a character who basically likes himself.
On the other hand, this is a clue to the novel's weakness. This is basically a very sophisticated story about a boy who has social problems as well as real problems that are only hinted at. As an adult, I found it very true and interesting but it works on a level higher than a lot of younger readers might be capable of reaching. Teenage readers might get a lot from this novel but will they read a story about a grade-schooler? I am afraid this novel will have a tough time finding an audience which is too bad because it is well worth reading.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This book is one if the best books I've ever read, and young Zinkoff is hilarious! He says he has to practice his losing and how he's okay when an older boy steals his hat. Read morePublished 5 days ago by randall34
Interesting and humorous outlook from an elementary boy. My 11 year old son loved it.Published 9 days ago by Janet Wintle
Zinkoff is his own , individual, quirky self. Though others don't understand him, he continues on with his wonderful spirit!!Published 11 days ago by Patricia Walton
We read this for a school book club and my daughter loved it. Even though it's sad, Loser is still a winner!Published 25 days ago by Beth
My great book 10/10 IGN
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Not exactly remarkable, but full of intensely realistic views into a child's head from 1st to 6th grade--a child who is different, sometimes in a likable way, sometimes less... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Bjorn B.
best book i have ever read and i am ?! years old peace out. this one of the 200 too 300 books that i like a lote.Published 3 months ago by stacy