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Original Essays | June 20, 2014

Lisa Howorth: IMG So Many Books, So Many Writers

I'm not a bookseller, but I'm married to one, and Square Books is a family. And we all know about families and how hard it is to disassociate... Continue »
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Original Essays | June 20, 2014

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Kids' Q&A

Jerry Spinelli

Describe your new book.
Love, Stargirl did not start out to be a sequel to Stargirl. One day my wife and fellow writer Eileen suggested I write a short, gift-type book featuring Stargirl and a holiday, maybe Christmas. It sounded like a good idea. I thought about it and decided that Stargirl and Winter Solstice seemed like a good match. Problem was, I never could get a handle on that little book. Stargirl kept wanting to talk, meet new people, push the story. So the little book that wasn't became the sequel that is Love, Stargirl.

Before writing Stargirl, I debated whether to tell the story from Leo's or Stargirl's point of view. I decided in favor of Leo, and I think it was the right decision. But now, with the sequel, I've got it both ways. I've been able to let her speak for herself and to let the reader get to know her more intimately and to show how much she has in common with other kids. Put it this way: if I were designing a girl-kid, Stargirl would be my blueprint.

  1. Maniac Magee
    $4.95 Used Trade Paper add to wishlist

    Maniac Magee

    Jerry Spinelli

What is your favorite family story?
Anne of Green Gables. I guess I'm a sucker for orphan stories. I love both the book and the movie; in fact, the movie might be my all-time favorite. I've watched it with a number of granddaughters.

What fictional character would you like to be your friend, and why?
Sherlock Holmes. It's a writer's "job" to pay attention, to notice what escapes others, to capture life's elusive and unappreciated details. No one in literature sees like Sherlock Holmes. I think I could learn a lot from him. And maybe borrow his pipe.

If you could choose any story to live in, which story would it be? Why?
Around the World in Eighty Days. Not just for the adventure but the setting, the times. The Victorian flavor of it — the wood and brass and gaslights of an era that seems so innocent to us today. On the other hand, now that I think of it, they didn't have indoor plumbing then and I'm not too crazy about outhouses. I might last till page 10.

Introduce one other author/illustrator you think people should read, and suggest a good book by him/her.
That's easy — Eileen Spinelli. Not that she doesn't already have lots of readers, but I happen to believe there should be even more. Three of my favorites are Somebody Loves You, Mr. Hatch; When You are Happy; and Wanda's Monster.

Describe your most memorable teacher.
Dr. Francis Mason, my literature professor at Gettysburg College. He was always going, as he put it, "out on a limb." When Dr. Mason strayed from the day's topic and ventured into unassigned territory, he gave us something much more important than facts — he gave us his enthusiasm, his love of literature and those who wrote it, and we learned to love it with him.

Offer a favorite sentence or passage from another writer.

That's it, the word "yes." It's the last word in James Joyce's groundbreaking novel Ulysses. It's the last word in what must be the longest sentence in literature, about 45 pages worth of unpunctuated rumination by Molly Bloom and it sums up her outlook on life. A writing teacher once told me there are two kinds of literature: yes literature and no literature. That's always appealed to me, distilling literature that way, and when I sit down to write my stories I try to make them come out to yes.

What was your favorite story as a child?
Babar the Elephant. Even today I'm not sure why, because I cried every time my mother read the part about Babar's mother eating a bad mushroom and dying, turning green no less. It was so sad. And yet the next bedtime I came back for more. It's like I was saying, "Please, make me cry again." Maybe it says something about the power of Story. Whether it makes us happy or sad, we want to feel it, we want to be affected, we want to feel alive. Isn't it nice that a story can do that for us? spacer

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