Monday, July 20, 2015

Loser by Jerry Spinelli

Genre: Upper Elementary, Middle Grade Realistic Fiction
Source: I own it

From Goodreads:
From renowned Newbery-winning author Jerry Spinelli comes an incredible story about how not fitting in might just lead to an incredible life.

Just like other kids, Zinkoff rides his bike, hopes for snow days, and wants to be like his dad when he grows up. But Zinkoff also raises his had with all the wrong answers, trips over his own feet and falls down with laughter over a word like "Jabip." Other kids have their own word to describe him, but Zinkoff is too busy to hear it. He does't know he's not like everyone else. And one winter night, Zinkoff's differences show that any name can someday become "hero."

With some of his finest writing to date and great wit and humor, Jerry Spinelli creates a story about a boy's individuality surpassing the need to fit in and the genuine importance of failure. As readers follow Zinkoff from first through sixt grade--making this a perfect classroom read--and watch his character develop, it becomes impossible not to identify with and root for him through failures and triumphs.

My Thoughts:
Out of all of Jerry Spinelli's books, this is probably one of my very favorites.  We get to know the protagonist as a young child who is anxious to learn. He sees learning as wonderful.  When the teacher told him how much time they would be in school he loved it.  I think that was what made me fall in love with Donald Zinkoff. His quirky behavior told me that in the right hands he would come out on top  Unfortunately, as a teacher I've seen some like the one he had who didn't like him because he wasn't quite as smart as other ids. She honestly thought Donald did things because he was trying her patience on purpose.  He was branded a loser but didn't realize it until he got older.  When that reality hit him it crushed him. However, when the book ends and Donald does something than many would see as heroic in his attempts would brand an example of what a loser he was, I always asked my students how they saw him now. It is funny that 99% no longer so him as a loser. Why?  You really need to read this book.  I try to start off my year reading this book to and with my students.  I want them to understand that I have no losers in my class Everyone is different and therefore when we embrace those differences then everyone can be a winner.  This is a book I am always recommending and will continue to recommend.  It is one of my favorite yearly rereads.

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