Leo Borlock follows the unspoken rule at Mica Area High School: don't stand out--under any circumstances! Then Stargirl arrives at Mica High and everything changes--for Leo and for the entire school. After 15 years of home schooling, Stargirl bursts into tenth grade in an explosion of color and a clatter of ukulele music, enchanting the Mica student body.
Part fairy godmother, part outcast, part dream-come-true, the star of Spinelli's latest novel possesses many of the mythical qualities as the protagonist of his Maniac Magee. As narrator Leo Borlock reflects on his junior year in a New Mexico high school, Stargirl takes center stage. Even before she appears at Mica High, Spinelli hints at her invisible presence; readers, like Leo, will wonder if Stargirl is real or some kind of mirage in the Sonoran Desert. By describing the girl through the eyes of a teen intermittently repulsed by and in love with her, Spinelli cunningly exposes her elusive qualities. Having been homeschooled, Stargirl appears at Mica High dressed as a hippie holdover and toting a ukulele, which she uses to serenade students on their birthdays; she marks holidays with Halloween candy and Valentine cards for all. As her cheerleading antics draw record crowds to the school's losing football team's games, her popularity skyrockets, yet a subtle foreboding infuses the narrative and readers know it's only a matter of time until she falls from grace. For Leo, caught between his peers and his connection to Stargirl, the essential question boils down to one offered to him by a sage adult friend: "Whose affection do you value more, hers or the others' " As always respectful of his audience, Spinelli poses searching questions about loyalty to one's friends and oneself and leaves readers to form their own answers. Ages 12-up. (Aug.) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information. -- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
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Knopf Books for Young Readers
May 14, 2002
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Adobe DRM EPUB
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Excerpt from Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli
When I was little, my uncle Pete had a necktie with a porcupine painted on it. I thought that necktie was just about the neatest thing in the world. Uncle Pete would stand patiently before me while I ran my fingers over the silky surface, half expecting to be stuck by one of the quills. Once, he let me wear it. I kept looking for one of my own, but I could never find one.
I was twelve when we moved from Pennsylvania to Arizona. When Uncle Pete came to say good-bye, he was wearing the tie. I thought he did so to give me one last look at it, and I was grateful. But then, with a dramatic flourish, he whipped off the tie and draped it around my neck. "It's yours," he said. "Going-away present."
I loved that porcupine tie so much that I decided to start a collection. Two years after we settled in Arizona, the number of ties in my collection was still one. Where do you find a porcupine necktie in Mica, Arizona -- or anywhere else, for that matter?
On my fourteenth birthday, I read about myself in the local newspaper. The family section ran a regular feature about kids on their birthdays, and my mother had called in some info. The last sentence read: "As a hobby, Leo Borlock collects porcupine neckties."
Several days later, coming home from school, I found a plastic bag on our front step. Inside was a gift-wrapped package tied with yellow ribbon. The tag said "Happy Birthday!" I opened the package. It was a porcupine necktie. Two porcupines were tossing darts with their quills, while a third was picking its teeth.