Jerry Spinelli is an American author of over twenty books for children and adolescents. Spinelli was born and raised in Pennsylvania where he fell in love with writing after having a poem about football published in the local paper at the age of sixteen. Spinelli attended Gettysburg College where he served as the editor of the literary magazine The Mercury. While he held a number of day jobs after graduating, his focus was always on the fiction he would write during breaks, in the evening, and on the weekend. While his first five novels written for adults were rejected, Spinelli found great success writing literature for children after publishing his first story, Space Station Seventh Grade, in 1982. Among Spinelli's most famous works are Maniac Magee (1991 Newbery Medal Winner); Wringer (1998 Newbery Medal Winner); Love, Stargirl; and Loser. His novels often tackle complex themes such as race, love, and belonging. Jerry Spinelli and his wife Eileen (who has illustrated many of his stories) live in Pennsylvania; they have six children and twenty-two grandchildren and still produce children's fiction together.