Synopses & Reviews
From the author of the National Book Award nominee A Tangle of Knots comes an inspiring novel about figuring out who you are and doing what you love.
Albie has never been the smartest kid in his class. He has never been the tallest. Or the best at gym. Or the greatest artist. Or the most musical. In fact, Albie has a long list of the things he's not very good at. But then Albie gets a new babysitter, Calista, who helps him figure out all of the things he is good at and how he can take pride in himself.
A perfect companion to Lisa Graff's National Book Award-nominated A Tangle of Knots, this novel explores a similar theme in a realistic contemporary world where kids will easily be able to relate their own struggles to Albie's. Great for fans of Rebecca Stead's Liar and Spy, RJ Palacio's Wonder and Cynthia Lord's Rules.
Praise for ABSOLUTELY ALMOST
* "Albie comes through significant emotional hardship to a genuine sense of self-worth."--School Library Journal, starred review
* "A perfect book to share with struggling readers."--Booklist, starred review
* "Achingly superb, Albies story shines."--Kirkus Reviews, starred review
* "Graffs...gentle story invokes evergreen themes of coming to appreciate ones strengths (and weaknesses), and stands out for its thoughtful, moving portrait of a boy who learns to keep moving forward, taking on the world at his own speed."--Publishers Weekly, starred review
"Lately the patrons of my school library have been asking, 'Do you have any books like Wonder by R.J. Palacio?' and now I have the perfect offering."--BookPage
"Maybe the wonder of Absolutely Almost is that its willing to give us an almost unheard of hero."--Betsy Bird, Fuse #8 Blog
"Graff...again draws on her ability to create rich lifeworlds for her characters to present a boy who is gifted in many ways....[T]his is a sharp portrait of an outsiders inner perspective, and Albies coming to terms with himself will be cheered by many."--BCCB Reviews
"Spinelli here enters the consciousness of the social pariah....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....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." Publishers Weekly
"Donald Zinkoff is a kid everyone will recognize-the one with the stupid laugh who cracks up over nothing, the klutz who trips over his own feet, the overly exuberant student who always raises his hand but never has the right answers....Zinkoff is a flawed but tough kid with an unshakable optimism that readers will find endearing. "Losers" in schools everywhere will find great comfort in this story, and the kids who would so casually brand their classmates should read it, too." School Library Journal
"The present-tense, omniscient narrative follows Zinkoff from John W. Satterfield Elementary to Monroe Middle School, showing how an exuberant, somewhat eccentric boy can suddenly-here, in fourth grade, when judgmental "big-kid eyes replace little-kid eyes"-be labeled a loser by his classmates. But readers will know better than that. We've seen him face down the furnace monster in the basement, befriend neighbors on nearby Willow Street, interact with his own (marvelously portrayed) family, and grow up bit by bit. It's a wonderful character study." Horn Book
"This was riveting from the very first page. This book is written for teens, but I HIGHLY recommend this to any parent, and especially one who has a son. It had me laughing and crying. This book cuts to the core of what it is like to be a thoughtful and sensitive young man in our sometimes cruel and confusing world. This is one of the best books I have read in years." Tom Montan, Copperfield's Books, Sebastopol, CA
No matter what the game, Zinkoff never wins. The kids have their own word to describe him, but Zinkoff is too busy to hear it. With some of his finest writing to date, Newbery Medal-winning author Spinelli uses wit and emotion to create the unique story of boy as he travels from first through sixth grade.
No matter what the game, Zinkoff never wins. Newbery Medal-winning author Spinelli uses wit and emotion to create the unique story of a boy as he travels from first through sixth grade.
There are winners everywhere .... The sidewalks. The backyards. The alleyways. The playgrounds ...
Except for Zinkoff. Zinkoff never wins.
But Zinkoff doesn't notice. Neither do the other pups.
Zinkoff is like all kids -- running, playing, riding his bike. Hoping for snow days, wanting to be his dad when he grows up.
Zinkoff is not like the other kids -- raising his hand with all the wrong answers, tripping over his own feet, falling down with laughter over a word like "Jabip." The kids have their own word to describe him, but Zinkoff is too busy to hear it.
Once again, Newbery Medal-winning author Jerry Spinelli uses great wit and humor to create the unique story of Zinkoff as he travels from first through sixth grades. Loser is a touching book about the human spirit, the importance of failure, and how any name can someday be replaced with "hero."
Robbie Darko is a magician. An old-school, pull-a-rabbit-out-of-your-hat-style magician. Robbie loves magic and hes good at itsort of. Despite his best efforts, passion, and practice, something always goes wrong with his tricks, landing Robbie in trouble. Enter crotchety Grandma Melvyn, who calls everyone Trixie” and complains about everything. When Grandma Melvyn moves in and takes over his room, Robbie discovers that she was once an internationally renowned magician and learns about the heartache that turned her into a bitter woman. Against all odds, Robbie and Grandma Melvyn form an uneasy alliance to show the worldor at least the kids of Hobson Elementary Schoolthat he is a true magician. Shortly after a successful talent show, Grandma Melvyn performs a final disappearing act, and Robbie learns a little about the true meaning of magic.
Written with pitch-perfect middle-grade humor and unforgettable characters, this gem of a novel will stay with readers long after Dorko the Magnificent has taken his final bow.
Praise for Dorko the Magnificent
"A young would-be magician gets lessons in both stagecraft and life from a crusty elder... the supporting characters steal the show."
"Short chapters keep the story moving. Robbie has impressive determination, but it is Grandma Melvyn who is the star in this moving story."
"Satisfying and enjoyable, Dorko will engage reluctant and voracious readers alike."
School Library Journal
" A thoroughly likable middle-grade novel, offering a blend of poignancy and giggle-worthy humor, this book is a solid back-to-school read."
The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
"Literature circles would work well with this title that deals with alienation, friendship, family, reconciliation, and death."
Library Media Connection
About the Author
Jerry Spinelli is the author of Maniac Magee,
winner of the 1991 Newbery Medal, and Wringer,
named a Newbery Honor book in 1998. He went to Gettysburg College and John Hopkins University. He and his wife, Eileen, also a writer of children's books, have seven children. Jerry Spinelli's books are funny and true to life. Whenever students ask him where he gets his ideas, he replies, "From you. You're the funny ones." Spinelli enjoys writing about the adventure in the typical experiences of children and young people.
In His Own Words...
"If you were standing on the corner of George and Oak Streets in Norristown, Pennsylvania, on a particular morning in 1949, you would have heard a jangling noise coming down George. You would have turned to see a little kid totally decked out in a cowboy outfit: ten-gallon hat, studded shirt, jodhpurs, twin golden cap pistols, white holsters, red bullets, boots and-the source of the jangling-spurs.
"As the kid clanked on by, you might have wondered if you had forgotten that this was Halloween. It wasn't. It was just an ordinary school day, and the little kid was me. I wanted to be a cowboy, and when I woke up that morning, I guess I just couldn't wait one day longer.
"I remember Miss Davis, my third grade teacher, smiling down at me in the front row and asking if there was something I would like to do for the class. I said yes, there was. Whereupon I got up, stood before my classmates and belted out "I've Got Spurs that jingle Jangle Jingle."
"I never did grow up to be a cowboy Nor did I realize ambitions to become a printer, a fighter pilot, a biologist or a baseball player. But I did become plenty of other neat things. I became a terrific, never-give-up-till-the-caboose railroad car-counter. And an intrepid berry-picker. And a fearless salamander-hunter. And a night sky-swooner. And a husband to one and father to six.
"And a writer. Which turns out to be the best career of all, because in telling my stories I can be all those things I ever did and did not become--and live in Phoenixville, just ten miles from Norristown."