Jerry Spinelli

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Jerry Spinelli
Spinelli signing one of his books
Spinelli signing one of his books
Born (1941-02-01) February 1, 1941 (age 78)
Norristown, Pennsylvania, US
GenreChildren's and young-adult novels
Notable works
Notable awardsNewbery Medal
SpouseEileen Spinelli

Jerry Spinelli (born February 1, 1941)[1] is an American writer of children's novels that feature adolescence and early adulthood. He is best known for Maniac Magee,[2] Stargirl and Wringer.


Spinelli was born in Norristown, Pennsylvania[3] and currently resides in Phoenixville, Pennsylvania. At the age of sixteen, 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.[2]

At Gettysburg College, Spinelli spent his time writing short stories and was the editor of the college literary magazine, The Mercury.[4] After graduation, he became a writer and editor for a department store 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.[5]

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.[5]

Spinelli graduated from Gettysburg College in 1963 and acquired his MA from Johns Hopkins University in 1964. In 1977, he married Eileen Mesi,[1] another children's writer.[5] Since about 1980, as Eileen Spinelli, she has collaborated with illustrators to create dozens of picture books. They have 6 children and 21[6] grandchildren.[3]


Title Year Ref.
Space Station Seventh Grade 1982
Who Put That Hair in My Toothbrush? 1984 [7]
Night of the Whale 1985 [7]
Jason and Marceline 1986 [7]
Dump Days 1988 [7]
Maniac Magee 1990 – Newbery Award[8] [7]
The Bathwater Gang 1990 [7]
Hallie Jefferys Life 1991
Fourth Grade Rats 1991 [7]
Report to the Principal’s Office 1991 [7]
There's a Girl in My Hammerlock 1991 [7]
Do the Funky Pickle 1992 [7]
Who Ran My Underwear Up the Flagpole? 1992 [7]
The Bathwater Gang Gets Down to Business 1992 [7]
Picklemania 1993 [7]
Tooter Pepperday 1995 [7]
Crash 1996 [7]
The Library Card 1997 [7]
Wringer 1997 – Newbery honor book [7][9]
Blue Ribbon Blues: A Tooter Tale 1998 [7]
Knots in My Yo-Yo String: The Autobiography of a Kid 1998 [7]
Stargirl 2000 [7]
Loser 2002 [7]
Milkweed: A Novel 2003 [7]
My Daddy and Me 2003 [7]
Love, Stargirl 2007 [7]
Eggs 2007 [7]
Smiles to Go 2008 [7]
I Can Be Anything 2010 [7]
Jake and Lily 2012 [10]
Third Grade Angels 2012
Hokey Pokey 2013 [7]
Mama Seeton's Whistle 2015
The Warden's Daughter 2017

In culture[edit]

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.[11]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Biography, Pictures, Videos, & Quotes". Retrieved 2009-05-24.
  2. ^ a b "He's a Man of Many Words". The Washington Post. June 8, 2009. Retrieved 2009-05-24.
  3. ^ a b "My Gen Club author Q&A: Jerry Spinelli". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. September 12, 2006. Retrieved 2009-05-24.
  4. ^ "The Mercury". The Cupola: Scholarship at Gettysburg College. Gettysburg College. Retrieved July 31, 2015.
  5. ^ a b c "A video interview with Jerry Spinelli". WETA Washington, D.C. Retrieved 2010-04-08.
  6. ^ Consulting, Temean. "Jerry Spinelli Bio Page". Retrieved April 20, 2018.
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab Contemporary Authors Online. Gale. 2013. ISBN 978-0-7876-3995-2.
  8. ^ "Newberry and Caldecott honor authors, illustrators". The San Bernardino County Sun. San Bernardino, CA. AP. January 16, 1991. Retrieved November 30, 2016 – via open access publication – free to read
  9. ^ "1998 Newbery Medal and Honor Books". Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC). American Library Association (ALA). Retrieved 2009-11-02.
  10. ^ Peck, Richard (June 1, 2012). "Twin Powers". The New York Times. Retrieved July 31, 2015.
  11. ^ Plimpton, George (March 29, 1999). "Dinner at Elaine's" (Podcast). The Moth. Retrieved June 6, 2016.

External links[edit]