November 13, 2010
Loser - by Jerry Spinelli
This is the story of Zinkoff, told from his birth until he is in middle school, which is a lot of time to cover in a short book. There are many funny scenes, and even though the reader spends a lot of time feeling sorry for this kid, Zinkoff, who keeps getting picked on, you also get a feeling that this kid is pretty awesome. He's got a tough life, but he doesn't seem to care what others think. Zinkoff is the kind of guy I'd like to know, but he's considered a total dork among his peers, and they avoid him like his weirdness in contagious, until one day... he does something nobody expected.
The author uses an odd writing style of short, choppy sentences, but with lots of detail. I read this aloud to my class recently and it was a big shift from other books we've read (The Bad Beginning, for instance, which was my class's favorite), that have normal sentence structure. There are a lot of natural pauses in this writing, and although it's very expressive, it doesn't have much of a flow until you really get into it and used to the style. Once you do, you fall in love with the author's poetic use of words to describe things the way few authors do, from the point of view of a blissfully unusual kid.
Check this out if you want to see how Zinkoff survived years of bullying and came out on top, if you enjoy quirky characters, and if you love a good school story.