Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Loser - Jerry Spinelli

Summary: Zinkoff is like all kids -- running, playing, riding his bike.  Hoping for snow days, wanting to be his dad when he grows up.  But he also raises his hand with all the wrong answers, trips over his own feet, falls down with laughter over a word like "Jabip." The kids have a name to describe him, but Zinkoff is too busy to hear it.

Once again, Newberry 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." (Summary from back of book)

My Review: I received this book as an ARC (Advanced Reader Copy) back in 2001 when I was in college and working as assistant manager at an independent bookseller.  Since then it has sat on my shelf, overlooked and unread.  Honestly, I felt kind of bad for it.  Poor little book.  Well, no more.  It's time has come!

Donald Zinkoff, is a bit of an outcast.  He can't play sports to save his life, has the most atrocious handwriting, poor coordination, and a tendency to vomit, but is blessed with an innocent, indefatigable spirit.  Put simply, he's an underdog that doesn't know he's an underdog, and I couldn't help but root for him.  After all, who wouldn't fall head over heels for a first grader sporting a three-foot tall giraffe hat, I ask you?  Only the heartless.

Loser is filled with moments both heartwarming and heart-wrenching as you follow Donald from 1st to 6th grade, seeing the world from both his perspective and occasionally from those who don't really appreciate him.  Whether he is facing the Furnace Monster, mucking up Field day, playing mailman for the day, spying on Waiting Man, or collecting his own earwax, Donald Zinkoff is a character of unique dimension, and blissfully unaware of the world's opinion of him.  My "mama bear" roared when he was mistreated by bullies or misunderstood by teachers and my mama heart soared when he kept on laughing, kept on searching, kept on trying, kept on just being... Zinkoff.  I highly recommend this book for anyone who is looking for a quick (218 pages), uplifting, occasionally snort-inducing read.

My Rating:  4.25 Stars

Sum it up:  Loser won me over in a matter of minutes.

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