Jerry Spinelli

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Jerry Spinelli
Jerry Spinelli (signing a book).jpg
Spinelli signing one of his books
Born (1941-02-01) 1 February 1941 (age 74)
Norristown, Pennsylvania, USA
Occupation Writer
Nationality American
Genre Children's and young-adult novels
Notable works
Notable awards Newbery Medal
Spouse Eileen 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] and Wringer.


Jerry Spinelli was born in Norristown, Pennsylvania[3] and currently resides in Phoenixville, PA. 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 with 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 historian .[2]

At Gettysburg College, Spinelli spent his time writing short stories and was the editor of the college literary magazine. 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.[4]

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.[4]

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.[4] Since about 1980, as Eileen Spinelli, she has collaborated with illustrators to create dozens of picture books. They have six children and 21 grandchildren.[3]


Most of Spinelli's chapter books are geared towards upper elementary and middle school readers. He has written 30 books for young readers, which have earned him many awards and thousands of fans. His book, Maniac Magee, won the Newbery Medal in 1991. Spinelli's writing is often praised for its accurate and humorous depiction of adolescent life. Additionally, he has a special talent for combining humor with sensitivity. Although Spinelli writes books that involve all sorts of characters and cover a variety of themes, some recurring themes in his novels are bullying, nonconformity, diversity, and self-acceptance. Even now in his 70s, Spinelli continues to awe readers with his keen ability to remember what it is like to be a kid.


Space Station Seventh Grade 1982
Who Put That Hair in My Toothbrush? 1984
Jason and Marceline 1986
Night of the Whale 1988
Dump Days 1991
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
Picklemania 1993
Tooter Pepperday 1996
Crash 1996
The Library Card 1997
Wringer 1997 – Newbery honor book [5]
Blue Ribbon Blues: A Tooter Tale 1998
Knots in My Yo-Yo String 1998
Stargirl 2000
Loser 2002
Milkweed: A Novel 2003
My Daddy and Me 2006
Love, Stargirl 2007
Eggs 2007
Smiles to Go 2008
Jake and Lily 2012
Third Grade Angels 2012
Hokey Pokey 2013
Mama Seeton's Whistle 2015

In culture[edit]

George Plimpton related an anecdote about Spinelli's 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.[6]

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. ^ a b c "A video interview with Jerry Spinelli". WETA Washington, D.C. Retrieved 2010-04-08. 
  5. ^ "1998 Newbery Medal and Honor Books". Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC). American Library Association (ALA). Retrieved 2009-11-02. 
  6. ^ Plimpton, George (May 10, 2014). The Moth Hour. NPR. 

External links[edit]