10 Interesting Facts About Jerry Spinelli

Jerry Spinelli is an award-winning American writer of children’s fiction that features early adulthood and adolescence. He was born 1st of February in 1941 in Norristown, Pennsylvania and is now residing in Phoenixville, Pennsylvania. At the age of 16, his love of sports inspired him to create a poem about a recent football victory, which was published by his father in a local newspaper with his permission. During this time, he realized that he would not become a shortstop for the Major League, so he instead decided to become a historian.

Spinelli then spent his time writing short stories at Gettysburg College and became the editor of the institution’s literary magazine, “The Mercury”. After he graduated, he became a writer and editor of a magazine for a department store. The next 20 years saw Spinelli spending his time working normal jobs during the day and writing fiction during his free time, such as lunch breaks, after dinner and weekends. Now, he is best known for two of his books, “Maniac Magee” and “Wringer.” Here are more interesting facts about Spinelli.

1. His Book, “Space Station Seventh Grade,” Was Unexpectedly Considered His First Children’s Book.

Some of the most books of Spinelli include “Maniac Magee”, “Wringer” and “Stargirl”. But before these works, he published the book, “Space Station Seventh Grade”, intended for adults in the beginning of the 1980s, but turned out to be considered as his first children’s book.

2. He Has Received a Great Number Of Honors And Awards.

In his life as a writer, Spinelli has received a lot of literary honors and awards. Starting from the ones he received in 1990 to the latest, these include the Boston Globe/Horn Book Award, American Library Association (ALA) Award, Dorothy Canfield Fisher Award, Mark Twain Award, William Allen White Award, South Carolina Children’s Book Award and Best Book for Young Adults designation from ALA, just to name only some of them. Also, Spinelli’s works have garnered the Readers’ Choice Awards from more than 20 states and provinces in the US and Canada.

3. His Most Famous Book Is “Maniac Magee.”

“Maniac Magee” is regarded as the most popular work by Spinelli, which got him a Newbery medal in 1991.

4. He Is Distinguished By His Humorous But Accurate Depiction Of Adolescent Life.

The written works of Spinelli are distinguished by his humorous, but accurate, depiction of adolescent life. In fact, Deborah Churchman, contributor for Washington Post Book World deemed the author as a master of those painful, gloppy, embarrassing and suddenly wonderful things that usually happen between childhood and full-fledged adult life.

5. He Is Regarded As a Very Gifted Children’s Author.

Because of his casual, yet introspective, works of fiction, Spinelli is often cited as one of the most gifted authors of children’s novels of his generation.

6. His First Poem, Which Is About The Football Victory, Jump-Started His Successful Career.

Spinelli’s first claim to literary fame was actually brought forth by the newspaper publication of his first poem about his hometown team’s football victory. Though his early dream was to become a cowboy, such experience has inspired him to re-consider his plans for a career and then started to decided to pursue writing, instead. Still, this did not let him discover his narrative voice, which he did not find until he got married and became a parent. As you can see, what inspired Spinelli to create his first novel was one of his children’s feats, which was pilfering food that Spinelli saved for his snack. As what Spinelli remarked on Scholastic Web, he said: “The first fifteen years of my life turned out to be one big research project. I thought I was simply growing up in Norristown, Pennsylvania; looking back now I can see that I was also gathering material that would one day find its way into my books.”

7. He Is Additionally Recognized For Writing Novels, Where He Balances Substantial Moral Issues With a Light-Hearted And Simple Prose Style.

According to a St. James Guide to Young-Adult Writers contributor, “Spinelli creates realistic fiction with humorous dialogue and situations, but his stories go beyond humor: Spinelli’s characters stumble and blunder through their lives until they emerge from the fog of adolescence guided by an optimistic light that readies them for their next challenge.”

8. His “Maniac Magee” Is About An Athletically Gifted Boy Whose Legends Were Ignited By His Accomplishments.

In this famous book, the main character, Jeffrey “Maniac” Magee, is an orphan who ran away from foster care to search for a loving household, making him face problems along the way in a racially divided town. He finds his first stay with a black family, but he then leaves after racist graffiti is spray-painted on their house. Then, he spends a lot of happy months with an old fellow in an equipment room in a park, but the man eventually dies. Maniac then moves into a home of white folks, but finds it filled withalcohol, cursing and roaches. Maniac’s greatest feat is his attempt to initiate better relations between whites and blacks in town.

9. His Focus On Racism In “Maniac Magee” Is Considered As Noteworthy.

Though some critics say that Spinelli has diluted his message about racism as absurd by presenting the book as a fable, other literary experts cited his focus on the incident as worthwhile. Reviewing the book in “New York Times”, Alison Teal said, “Spinelli grapples … with a racial tension rarely addressed in fiction for children in the middle grades.” Claudia Logan, contributor of “Washington Post Book World”, also lauded the originality and colorful writing of Spinelli.

10. His Powerfully Persuasive Themes Make Him So Popular.

With his book “Wringer”, which garnered him a Newbery Honor in 1998, Spinelli returned to the more powerful and persuasive theme that made “Maniac Magee” very popular.

There you have it! This set of information just shows how interesting this long-time author’s life is. Now, are you inspired with the facts about Jerry Spinelli?

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