Jerry Spinelli is an American novelist born on February 1, 1941 in Norristown, Pennsylvania. As a teenager, he was very interested in pursuing a career in either football or writing, but the latter prevailed. After graduating high school, he attended Gettysburg College, where he studied English and wrote for the school’s literary magazine. For several years after college, Spinelli worked as a magazine editor and took on various odd jobs to support himself. He finally made his debut into the literary realm with the publication of his children’s book, Space Station Seventh Grade, in 1982.
In 2002, Spinelli released another one of his young adult novels entitled Loser, which tells the story of Donald Zinkoff, an elementary school boy who struggles to fit in with his fellow peers. He does not have any talents athletically or academically, so he is the ideal target for endless teasing and taunting. This book follows Donald’s life from the beginning of first grade to the start of middle school, detailing his experiences with bullying as he enters his adolescent years.
Upon its publication, Loser received positive reviews from critics and audiences for its heartbreaking portrayal of a boy faced with years of bullying. Kirkus Reviews praises Spinelli for “providing such a steady look at a marginalized child that readers will see past limiting social categories or awkward outsides to the complex mix of past, present, and promise at the core of every individual.” Since writing Loser, Jerry Spinelli has published numerous other novels, including Milkweed, My Daddy and Me, Love Stargirl, Eggs, and Smiles to Go.