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Star Girl
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About the Author

JERRY SPINELLI is the author of many novels for young readers, including The Warden's Daughter; Stargirl; Love, Stargirl; Milkweed; Crash; Wringer; and Maniac Magee, winner of the Newbery Medal; along with Knots in My Yo-Yo String, the autobiography of his childhood. A graduate of Gettysburg College, he lives in Pennsylvania with his wife, poet and author Eileen Spinelli.

JERRY SPINELLI is the author of many novels for young readers, including The Warden's Daughter; Stargirl; Love, Stargirl; Milkweed; Crash; Wringer; and Maniac Magee, winner of the Newbery Medal; along with Knots in My Yo-Yo String, the autobiography of his childhood. A graduate of Gettysburg College, he lives in Pennsylvania with his wife, poet and author Eileen Spinelli.

Reviews

Gr 6-10-Jerry Spinelli's novel (Knopf, 2000), set in small-town Mica, Arizona, is a tender and poignant tale of adolescent relationships. The dynamics between the central characters, Stargirl and Leo, against the backdrop of petty, but entrenched cliques, gives a small window into the painful growth of teenagers and preteens. While the story is compelling, the writing styles don't translate easily to the audio format. Most of the text is narrative, as seen through the eyes of an older Leo, looking back nostalgically on his time spent with Stargirl. Juxtaposed among these memories are "real time" vignettes with dialogue between the assortment of characters. This interplay of time sequences with writing styles demands much of readers/listeners. There are scenes where text is preferable, such as the "Hot Seat" session where Stargirl is pantomiming behind Leo's back. Although narrator John Ritter does an admirable job, it lacks the vitality that Stargirl brings to the story, and the tenderness of Leo's memory. During the dialogues, the voices are not distinctive enough to bring the sense of urgency that is felt while reading the story; it is difficult to sense Hilary's loathing of Stargirl and all she stands for, or Leo's angst as he is torn between "fitting in" and allegiance to Stargirl. His best readings are the dialogues and descriptive passages that engage humor, especially the cheerleading episode as Stargirl spells out "Howdy." The narratives lack a musical vocal quality, and the intonations are predictable. Given that Ritter has strong ability with strictly vocal performances such as the voice for Clifford in Clifford the Big Red Dog (PBS) and other audio works, this could be a story that is better in its print format.-Tina Hudak, St. Bernard's School, Riverdale, MD Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.

"A magical and heartbreaking tale."--Kirkus Reviews, Starred

"Spinelli has produced a poetic allegorical tale about the magnificence and rarity of true nonconformity." -- The New York Times "Part fairy godmother, part outcast, part dream-come-true, [Stargirl] possesses many of the mythical qualities of Maniac Magee." -- Publishers Weekly, Starred "Stargirl is luminescent. . . . This book resonates long after the cover is closed." -- The Detroit News and Free Press "Stargirl tells us the captivating story of a magical, mysterious girl. . . . A wonder tribute to nonconformity." -- Chicago Tribune

Ritter, in the sort of dynamic, focused performance that makes him a versatile actor, effortlessly walks the halls of Mica Area High School as 16-year-old Leo Borlock, a boy coming to grips with first love and the pressures of conformity. Junior year takes a most unusual track for Leo, a proud-to-be-ordinary kid, as well as most of the student body, when a new sophomore named Stargirl arrives on the scene. With her odd clothes, pet rat named Cinnamon and penchant for playing the ukulele during lunch, free spirit Stargirl turns the school on its ear. But before Leo really knows it's happening, Stargirl steals his heart, a development that eventually puts him at odds with just about everyone. As his love for Stargirl grows, so does his concern that they are an oddity in the world; he finds himself facing a difficult choice between society and his girlfriend. With a mesmerizing reading rhythm peppered with spirited and heartfelt dialogue, Ritter fully captures the emotional current of Spinelli's text. He relates the humorous details, clique-related dramas and intense heartbreak of high school life with a knowing tone that young listeners will likely embrace. Ages 12-up. (Sept.) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.

"A magical and heartbreaking tale."--Kirkus Reviews, Starred "Spinelli has produced a poetic allegorical tale about the magnificence and rarity of true nonconformity." -- The New York Times "Part fairy godmother, part outcast, part dream-come-true, [Stargirl] possesses many of the mythical qualities of Maniac Magee." -- Publishers Weekly, Starred "Stargirl is luminescent. . . . This book resonates long after the cover is closed." -- The Detroit News and Free Press "Stargirl tells us the captivating story of a magical, mysterious girl. . . . A wonder tribute to nonconformity." -- Chicago Tribune From the Paperback edition.

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