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Jerry Spinelli

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  1. Jerry Spinelli “Whom do I write for? I write for the story. Each story, it seems to me, knows best how it should be told. As I once put my ear to the railroad track, I listen now for the voice of my story.” ~J. Spinelli

  2. BIOGRAPHY “In sixth grade I was a big fan of Bug’s Bunny comics, it was the thing to read.” ~ J. Spinelli • Born in Norristown, Pennsylvania - February 1, 1941 • Excelled in reading comics, cereal boxes and the sports section of the newspaper • Dreamed of becoming a cowboy when he grew up • Loved sports • As a teenager, he aspired to become a professional baseball player • 16 years old – wrote a poem that was published in the local newspaper • Attended Gettysburg College & John Hopkins University • After college, served six months on active duty with the U.S. Naval Air Reserves • Worked as an editor for a department store magazine for over 20 years • Jerry and his wife, Eileen who is also a writer, have six children and 16 grandchildren • Initially wrote 4 adult novels over a 13 year span that never got published • In 1982, at the age of 39, he finally published his first book, his fifth novel - Space Station Seventh Grade • Won a Newbery Medal in 1991, the highest honor in children’s literature, for Maniac Magee • In 2000, received an honorary Doctor of Literature Degree from Western Maryland College • Has published 25 books including an autobiography titled, My Yo-Yo String

  3. Where does he get ideas for writing? Jerry Spinelli has become well known, not only for his humor, but for writing about such hard-hitting topics as racism and peer pressure. He gets most of his writing inspiration from life, both his own and those around him. Spinelli often uses memories from his childhood, as well as, his children and grandchildren to help him create storylines and characters. “Our kids triggered memories of my own childhood, of the old days growing up in Norristown. John Ribble’s blazing fast ball. Mrs. Seeton’s whistle calling her kids home to dinner. DoveyWilmoth, so beautiful that a fleet of boys pedaled bikes past her house ten times a day. The creek, the tracks, the dump, the red hills. These memories became a library where I do much of my research.” ~J. Spinelli

  4. How it all started… In 1957, while Norristown was celebrating the victory of an intense football battle, sixteen-year-old Spinelli was at home, writing a poem about the event. He titled the short piece “Goal to Go”(click title to read the poem), gave it to his father to read, and then forgot about it. Louis Spinelli recognized his son’s potential and submitted the poem to the Norristown Times-Herald. About a week later, to Jerry Spinelli’s surprise, “Goal to Go” graced the front page of the sports section. The community loved the poem and praised Spinelli. It was the start of his writing career. “Little did I know that twenty-five years would pass before a book of mine would be published.”

  5. “…and then I wrote a book about a kid and some chicken bones...” Early one summer morning I opened the refrigerator to get the fried chicken I had left there the night before. I had left the chicken in a bag. Five pieces. I planned to take them to work for my lunch that day. Well, the bag was still there, and so was the chicken. Chicken bones, that is. It seems that one of our angels sleeping upstairs had had a little snack the night before. At lunchtime that day, instead of picking up a drumstick, I picked up a pencil and I started to write: "One by one my stepfather took the chicken bones out of the bag and laid them on the kitchen table. He laid them down real neat. In a row. Five of them. Two leg bones, two wing bones, one thigh bone. And bones is all they were. There wasn’t a speck of meat on them. "Was this really happening? Did my stepfather really drag me out of bed at seven o’clock in the morning on my summer vacation so I could stand in the kitchen in my underpants and stare down at a row of chicken bones?" Little did I know that I was beginning to write my fifth novel. With one big difference—this one would be published. It was called Space Station Seventh Grade. “My stories are not for kids, they’re about kids…I let my stories find their own audiences…” ~J. Spinelli

  6. “Life is Full of Happy Accidents” ~Click on links to watch videos~

  7. Books & Awards • American Library Top 10 Best Books for Young Adults • Publisher’s Weekly Best Book of 2000 • Children’s Media Honor Book • Parents’ Choice 2000 Fiction Gold Award • NAIBA Book Award for Children’s Literature • New York Times Best Seller List • Newberry Medal Award Winner • Dorothy Canfield Fisher Award • California Young Readers Medal • Reader’s Choice Award • Golden Kite Award • Milner Award • Mark Twain Award • Newberry Honor Book Award

  8. Want to learn more about Jerry Spinelli??? Check it out: