MLA Platinum Award Press Release

Jerry Spinelli biography

Author Biography  | Interview  | Books by this Author  | Readalikes

Jerry Spinelli

Jerry Spinelli

How to pronounce Jerry Spinelli: je-ree (rhymes with ferry) spi-NEL-ee

Jerry Spinelli Biography

The noted novelist and children's author Jerry Spinelli, born on the 1st February, 1941 at Norristown in Pennsylvania, United States, is best known for his specialized novels intended towards readers in their early adolescence. His well-known books include his Space Station Seventh Grade (1982), the 1991 Newbery Medal winning Maniac Magee, the Newbery Honor-winning 1998 novel Wringer, the 2000 novel Stargirl and the the 2003 historical fiction novel Milkweed.

At the age of 16, Spinelli decided to be a writer, when his football team at high school conquered a tough opponent in a big game, young Jerry Spinelli composed a poem recognizing this achievement. To the surprise of Jerry Spinelli the poem was published the following day in the local newspaper. Spinelli started his professional writing career by attempting books for adults and not for children. However, these books were rejected by publishers and remained unpublished. Jerry Spinelli’s imagination flew one night when one of his six children ate fried chicken that was being saved for the following day. Spinelli described this event, and the description eventually turned in to the story line for his first published novel entitled Space Station Seventh Grade. Spinelli originally wanted it to be an adult novel but adult publishers rejected it since the central character was a 13 year old child and finally it became a famous children's book.

Spinelli’s 1984 novel Who Put That Hair in My Toothbrush? describes characters Megin & Greg who are inspired by his real life children Molly & Jeffrey. Next he created children's books Jason and Marceline published in 1986 which is the sequel to Space Station Seventh Grade. In 1988, Spinelli wrote Dump Days. In 1990 he wrote Maniac Magee which won the Newbery Medal in the subsequent year. The novel has been developed in to a tv movie. His other major works in 1991 were There's a Girl in My Hammerlock, Report to the Principal's Office & Fourth Grade Rats. In 1992, Spinelli worked on The Bathwater Gang Gets Down to Business, Who Ran My Underwear Up the Flagpole? & Do the Funky Pickle. Spinelli’s novel Stargirl has also been developed into a movie due for release in 2009. He has also published his autobiography by the title Knots in My Yo-Yo String in 1998. His 2007 novel Eggs outlines a relationship that develops between two children out of loneliness. Spinelli published Love, Stargirl the sequel to his previous bestseller in 2007 . This novel was published by Knopf Books and was followed by Smiles to Go in 2008.

Jerry Spinelli graduated in 1963 from Gettysburg College and completed his MA in 1964 from Johns Hopkins University. He is married Eileen Mesi in 1977 and together they have six children. Jerry served in the United States Navy Reserve between 1966 and 1972.

Jerry Spinelli's website

This bio was last updated on 07/30/2017. We try to keep BookBrowse's biographies both up to date and accurate, but with many thousands of lives to keep track of it's a tough task. So, please help us - if the information about this author is out of date or inaccurate, and you know of a more complete source, please let us know. Authors and publishers: If you wish to make changes to a bio, send the complete biography as you would like it displayed so that we can replace the old with the new.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $12 for a year or $39 for 3 months
  • More about membership!

Interview

Jerry Spinelli talks about his own childhood and what influenced him to create Zinkoff - the lead character in his bestselling book, Loser.

Where did you go to school? Was it anything like John W. Satterfield Elementary School or Monroe Middle School?
I attended Hartranft Elementary in Norristown, PA. It resembled Satterfield Elementary only in the broadest sense. I do remember one or two classmates who seemed to incite the others' disapproval. As I wrote the graduation chapter, I pictured the so-called "all-purpose room" where mine took place, but the resemblance ends there. The teachers in the story do not resemble my own, nor did we have a field day.

Are there any of your own school experiences that you used in the book? If so, could you tell us about one or two?
There probably are, but I can't remember any offhand. When I went looking for Zinkoff's experiences, I think I found them on the other side of my own coin. For example, Zinkoff is slow, I was fast (50 yard dash champion of Norristown grade schools); Zinkoff is awkward, I was athletic; Zinkoff gets one A, I got lots. If Zinkoff had been in my class, I probably would have thought he was a loser too. Despite the A's, I had a lot to learn.

After a difficult day at school, how did you make yourself feel better, or how do you make your children feel better?
There was always a...

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $12 for a year or $39 for 3 months
  • More about membership!

Books by this Author

Books by Jerry Spinelli at BookBrowse
Hokey Pokey jacket Smiles to Go jacket Love, Stargirl jacket Loser jacket
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $12 for a year or $39 for 3 months
  • More about membership!

Readalikes

All the books below are recommended as readalikes for Jerry Spinelli but some maybe more relevant to you than others depending on which books by the author you have read and enjoyed. So look for the suggested read-alikes by title linked on the right.
How we choose readalikes

  • Sharon Creech

    Sharon Creech

    Sharon Creech is the author of the Newbery Medal winner Walk Two Moons and the Newbery Honor Book The Wanderer. Her other work includes the novels Hate That Cat, The Castle Corona, Replay, Heartbeat, Granny Torrelli Makes ... (more)

    If you enjoyed:
    Stargirl

    Try:
    Walk Two Moons
    by Sharon Creech

  • Sharon M. Draper

    Sharon M. Draper

    Sharon Mills Draper (Mills was her maiden name) is a two-time Coretta Scott King Award-winning author for Copper Sun, and Forged by Fire. She's also the recipient of the Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe Author Award for New ... (more)

    If you enjoyed:
    Stargirl

    Try:
    Out of My Mind
    by Sharon M. Draper

We recommend 19 similar authors

View all 19 Readalikes

Non-members can see 2 results. Become a member
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $12 for a year or $39 for 3 months
  • More about membership!

Support BookBrowse

Become a Member and discover books that entertain, engage & enlighten.

Join Now!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: The Lightness of Hands
    The Lightness of Hands
    by Jeff Garvin
    The stillness that comes right after reading a book that has wrapped itself firmly around your heart...
  • Book Jacket: The Vanishing Half
    The Vanishing Half
    by Brit Bennett
    Brit Bennett's second novel, The Vanishing Half (after The Mothers, her 2016 bestselling debut), ...
  • Book Jacket
    Tropic of Violence
    by Nathacha Appanah
    Marie is a nurse working in Mayotte, a cluster of French territory islands in the Indian Ocean. When...
  • Book Jacket: Death in Mud Lick
    Death in Mud Lick
    by Eric Eyre
    When Eric Eyre, investigative and statehouse reporter for the Charleston Gazette-Daily, began ...

Readers Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    The Prisoner's Wife
    by Maggie Brookes

    Inspired by the true story of a courageous young woman who enters a Nazi POW camp to be with the man she loves.
    Reader Reviews

Book Club Discussion
Book Jacket
The Last Flight
by Julie Clark

The story of two women and one agonizing decision that will change the trajectory of both of their lives.

About the book
Join the discussion!
Win this book!
Win The House on Fripp Island

The House on Fripp Island
by Rebecca Kauffman

A taut, page-turning novel of secrets and strife.

Enter

Wordplay

Solve this clue:

M's T W!

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.