Children's Lit Book Reviews

Sunday, April 4, 2010


By: Jerry Spinelli
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Copyright: 2001
Pages: 208
Reading Level: 9-12
Genre: Realistic fiction
“A magical and heartbreaking tale.”
-Kirkus Review

Summary: Stargirl is a girl that wears very awkward clothing as well as carrying her pet rat, named Cinnamon, in a bag upon which she has painted a life size sunflower. During lunch, every day, she sings "Happy Birthday" to kids she has never met. Her behavior is so unusual and so unlike anything anyone at the school has seen before that the student body, at first, does not know what to make of her. Once the student body becomes accustomed to Stargirl’s eccentricities, her popularity soars. Students begin to mimic her behavior and, at lunch, her table is overflowing with peers. She then is asked to become a cheerleader for all of the sports in her high school.The basketball season brings about Stargirl's downfall. For the first time in the school's history, they have an undefeated basketball season. She slowly begins to anger her school by cheering for not only MAHS, but the other teams as well. She doesn't believe winning is the only way to have fun, and this puzzles and angers the students, though this is the same behavior she exhibited as a cheerleader for the football team.When basketball play-offs come around, the school faces tough competition, and ultimately lose in the semi-finals. Stargirl angers the school by comforting a player from the opposing team when he breaks his ankle. This leads to her ultimate downfall from popularity. Then Leo and stargirl enjoy each others' company, and Leo begins to help Stargirl with her antics, such as leaving cards for people she doesn't know and dropping change on the sidewalk. It is by observing her behavior that he figures out that Stargirl is the mysterious person who gave him the porcupine necktie four years before. Soon, though, Leo realizes the entire school rejects them as a couple. Desperate to undo this curse, he begs Stargirl to change and become "normal," so she becomes "Susan", the name she was born with. She drops her unconventional clothing and acts like all the other students at the school. She becomes obsessed with being “accepted” and popular. This plan, however, does not work. Susan feels that the best way to become popular is by winning a state public speaking competition. Her eccentric and creative personality helps her achieve victory in the competition, and she returns to MAHS thinking she will receive a hero’s welcome. She is bitterly disappointed when only three people show up to see her homecoming. Susan realizes that she had achieved nothing by trying to fit in. She decides to go back to being her true self, and Stargirl returns, much to Leo’s dismay. He then abandons his relationship with Stargirl, confused about his feelings for her and with his own desperation to be accepted by the school. Leo decides to not go to his school dance but watches it from a distance. Hillari then confronts Stargirl and slaps her across the face. Kindly, and very politely, Stargirl returns the slap with a kiss on the cheek and walks away without causing a fuss. Suddenly, the very next day, Leo notices that Stargirl is gone.
Who would benefit from reading this book? The lessons that one can learn from this book are gems. This book should be read by every child entering either middle school or even teenager going into high school. This book teaches people to be themselves and not conform to people and society. I think that girls, and even young adult males, would find enjoyment from reading this book.
What problems/concerns could this book potentially cause? I don't think that this book would cause an problems. It is a book that teaches kids and teenagers to accept people for their differences. I think it does show stereotypes, but it's not a problem as the stereotypes are to prove a point in the book.
My reaction: This is my favorite book. I read the first few chapters, it absolutely captivated me and made it nearly impossible for me to put the book down. I think that this is a great book for everyone to read, and I will probably end up reading it again this summer. I will definitely recommend this book to everyone who is looking for a good read.

posted by Jon Dale at 6:01 PM


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