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Stargirl (Stargirl Series)
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About the Author

JERRY SPINELLI is the author of many novels for young readers, including The Warden's Daughter; Stargirl; Love, Stargirl; Milkweed; Crash; Wringer; and Maniac Magee, winner of the Newbery Medal; along with Knots in My Yo-Yo String, the autobiography of his childhood. A graduate of Gettysburg College, he lives in Pennsylvania with his wife, poet and author Eileen Spinelli. From the Hardcover edition.

Reviews

Gr 6-10-Jerry Spinelli's novel (Knopf, 2000), set in small-town Mica, Arizona, is a tender and poignant tale of adolescent relationships. The dynamics between the central characters, Stargirl and Leo, against the backdrop of petty, but entrenched cliques, gives a small window into the painful growth of teenagers and preteens. While the story is compelling, the writing styles don't translate easily to the audio format. Most of the text is narrative, as seen through the eyes of an older Leo, looking back nostalgically on his time spent with Stargirl. Juxtaposed among these memories are "real time" vignettes with dialogue between the assortment of characters. This interplay of time sequences with writing styles demands much of readers/listeners. There are scenes where text is preferable, such as the "Hot Seat" session where Stargirl is pantomiming behind Leo's back. Although narrator John Ritter does an admirable job, it lacks the vitality that Stargirl brings to the story, and the tenderness of Leo's memory. During the dialogues, the voices are not distinctive enough to bring the sense of urgency that is felt while reading the story; it is difficult to sense Hilary's loathing of Stargirl and all she stands for, or Leo's angst as he is torn between "fitting in" and allegiance to Stargirl. His best readings are the dialogues and descriptive passages that engage humor, especially the cheerleading episode as Stargirl spells out "Howdy." The narratives lack a musical vocal quality, and the intonations are predictable. Given that Ritter has strong ability with strictly vocal performances such as the voice for Clifford in Clifford the Big Red Dog (PBS) and other audio works, this could be a story that is better in its print format.-Tina Hudak, St. Bernard's School, Riverdale, MD Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.

"Spinelli has produced a poetic allegorical tale about the magnificence and rarity of true nonconformity." -The New York Times

"A magical and heartbreaking tale."-Kirkus Reviews, Starred

"Part fairy godmother, part outcast, part dream-come-true, [Stargirl] possesses many of the mythical qualities of Maniac Magee." -Publishers Weekly, Starred

"Stargirl is luminescent. . . . This book resonates long after the cover is closed." -The Detroit News and Free Press

"Stargirl tells us the captivating story of a magical, mysterious girl. . . . A wonderful tribute to nonconformity." -Chicago Tribune

Part fairy godmother, part outcast, part dream-come-true, the star of Spinelli's latest novel possesses many of the mythical qualities as the protagonist of his Maniac Magee. As narrator Leo Borlock reflects on his junior year in a New Mexico high school, Stargirl takes center stage. Even before she appears at Mica High, Spinelli hints at her invisible presence; readers, like Leo, will wonder if Stargirl is real or some kind of mirage in the Sonoran Desert. By describing the girl through the eyes of a teen intermittently repulsed by and in love with her, Spinelli cunningly exposes her elusive qualities. Having been homeschooled, Stargirl appears at Mica High dressed as a hippie holdover and toting a ukulele, which she uses to serenade students on their birthdays; she marks holidays with Halloween candy and Valentine cards for all. As her cheerleading antics draw record crowds to the school's losing football team's games, her popularity skyrockets, yet a subtle foreboding infuses the narrative and readers know it's only a matter of time until she falls from grace. For Leo, caught between his peers and his connection to Stargirl, the essential question boils down to one offered to him by a sage adult friend: "Whose affection do you value more, hers or the others'?" As always respectful of his audience, Spinelli poses searching questions about loyalty to one's friends and oneself and leaves readers to form their own answers. Ages 12-up. (Aug.) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.

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