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Jerry Spinelli
Spinelli signing one of his books
Spinelli signing one of his books
Born February 1, 1941 (1941-02-01) (age 80)
Norristown, Pennsylvania, US
Occupation Writer
Nationality American
Genre Children's and young-adult novels
Notable works
Notable awards Newbery Medal
1991

Jerry Spinelli (born February 1, 1941) is an American writer of children's novels that feature adolescence and early adulthood. He is best known for Maniac Magee, Stargirl and Wringer.

Life

Spinelli was born in Norristown, Pennsylvania, and currently lives in Phoenixville, Pennsylvania. At the age of 16, his love of sports inspired him to compose a poem about a recent football victory, which his father published in the local newspaper without his knowledge. It was at this time he realized that he would not become a major league baseball shortstop, so he decided to become a writer.

At Gettysburg College, Spinelli spent his time writing short stories and was the editor of the college literary magazine, The Mercury. After graduation, he became a writer and editor for a department of nothing magazine. The next two decades, he spent his time working "normal jobs" during the day so that he had the energy to write fiction in his free time. He found himself writing during lunch breaks, on weekends, and after dinner.

His first few novels were written for adults and were all rejected. His fifth novel was also intended for adults but became his first children's book. This work, Space Station Seventh Grade, was published in 1982.

Spinelli graduated from Gettysburg College in 1963 and acquired his MA from Johns Hopkins University in 1964. In 1977, he married Eileen Mesi, another children's writer. Since about 1980, as Eileen Spinelli, she has collaborated with illustrators to create dozens of picture books. They have six children and 21 grandchildren.

Works

Title Year Ref.
Space Station Seventh Grade 1982
Who Put That Hair in My Toothbrush? 1984
Night of the Whale 1985
Jason and Marceline 1986
Dump Days 1988
Maniac Magee 1990 – Newbery Award
The Bathwater Gang 1990
Hallie Jefferys Life 1991
Fourth Grade Rats 1991
Report to the Principal’s Office 1991
There's a Girl in My Hammerlock 1991
Do the Funky Pickle 1992
Who Ran My Underwear Up the Flagpole? 1992
The Bathwater Gang Gets Down to Business 1992
Picklemania 1993
Tooter Pepperday 1995
Crash 1996
The Library Card 1997
Wringer 1997 – Newbery honor book
Blue Ribbon Blues: A Tooter Tale 1998
Knots in My Yo-Yo String: The Autobiography of a Kid 1998
Stargirl 2000
Loser 2002
Milkweed: A Novel 2003
My Daddy and Me 2003
Love, Stargirl 2007
Eggs 2007
Smiles to Go 2008
I Can Be Anything 2010
Jake and Lily 2012
Third Grade Angels 2012
Hokey Pokey 2013
Mama Seeton's Whistle 2015
The Warden's Daughter 2017
My Fourth of July 2019

In culture

George Plimpton related an anecdote about Spinelli having bought at auction an evening with the Plimptons, in New York City, during which George Plimpton introduced Spinelli to writers and editors dining at Elaine's, and two months after which Spinelli wrote Plimpton to announce the publication of Spinelli's first book (a children's book) by Houghton Mifflin.

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