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Knots in my yo-yo string : the autobiography of a kid /

This Italian-American Newbery Medalist presents a humorous account of his childhood and youth in Norristown, Pennsylvania. Full description

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Format: Book
Language: English
Published: Knopf, 1998
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Newbery medalist Jerry Spinelli has penned his early autobiography with all the warmth, humor, and drama of his best-selling fiction.

"A master of those embarrassing, gloppy, painful, and suddenly wonderful things that happen on the razor's edge between childhood and full-fledged adolescence" ( The Washington Post ),

From first memories through high school, including first kiss, first punch, first trip to the principal's office, and first humiliating sports experience, this is not merely an account of a highly unusual childhood. Rather, like Spinelli's fiction, its appeal lies in the accessibility and universality of his life. Entertaining and fast-paced, this is a highly readable memoir-- a must-have for Spinelli fans of all ages.

Review by Booklist Review

Gr. 4^-7. In Fargo, North Dakota, in September 1992, Newbery medalist Spinelli was asked, "Do you think being a kid helped you become a writer?" In this warm, deeply personal memoir of the kid he was, Spinelli takes us to Norristown, Pennsylvania, in the 1950s. Very gently, he reveals the critical importance of bikes and baseballs, empty lots and early television, your own street, and where your friends lived. For adult readers--of a certain age--Bonomo's Turkish Taffy and Howdy Doody may bring tears or giggles of recognition; kids will be delighted by Spinelli's frank admission that he spent most of his youth reading only comic books and the sports pages. What a marvelous thing, though, to read about a grown-up writer who still has all the notes his ninth-grade girlfriend wrote him in 1956. Their longing, their shyness, their desire to please, can even now break hearts. Young readers will be delighted to find that the author of Maniac Magee (1990) had a dog he loved, found school peripheral to his real life, and acquired a pesky and charming little brother, just as they might. Readers will notice that he still holds as friends some of the guys he knew back then. And they will know that a regular kid can remember all that important stuff when he grows up. --GraceAnne A. DeCandido

From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review

In this montage of sharply focused memories punctuated with b&w photographs, Spinelli (Maniac Magee; Wringer) reconstructs the experience of growing up during the '50s. His descriptions of his childhood universe (which does not extend beyond Norristown, Pa.) elicits the use of all five senses. He invites readers to gaze upon the same stars he studied as a child; to listen for the "not-very-loud" whistle of Mrs. Seeton calling not only her own brood but all the kids home to their suppers ("for a mother's call somehow touches us all"); to smell the "sour, vaguely rotten" aroma of the Adam Scheidt Brewing Company; to savor the taste of Texas Hot Wieners ("They had spunk. They fought back"); and to feel the "clack" of colliding teeth during his first kiss with Kathy Heller (in a game of Truth or Consequences). The audience might be content to bask in the warm glow of post-WWII reflections, but the author has other plans: he shows readers how the seeds of a writer were planted in his youth. Wedged between sometimes painful, more often hilarious scenes of preadolescent and adolescent angst are quiet, contemplative moments when young Spinelli develops his artistic imagination replaying the days' events and pondering such mysteries as time, space and the origin of knots in his yo-yo string. As Spinelli effortlessly spins the story of an ordinary Pennsylvania boy, he also documents the evolution of an exceptional author. Ages 10-13. (Apr.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Review by School Library Journal Review

Gr 5 UpÄA loving reminiscence of childhood. Although the first five pages are slow moving, detail laden, and rather puzzling in parts, the rest of the book takes off as Spinelli takes small, seemingly insignificant snippets of the 10 years he lived on George Street on the West End of Norristown, PA, and explains from his adult viewpoint how they were stepping-stones to his success as a popular children's book author. Even though he only read cereal boxes and comic books as a child, he displays and describes his "early leaning toward language." Phrases such as "music's bunkhouse" to define an old crank phonograph, and using "picturing" to "co-create the moment" to show how listening to the radio was interactive, are evidence of his talent with words. In a conversational tone, Spinelli fondly recalls neighbors, pastimes, and events of the 1940s and 50s. Black-and-white photos present amusing images from his past. Readers may not be familiar with all of the lingo (Bonomo's Turkish taffy) or personalities (Lash La Rue), but they will enjoy the humorous episodes. In the last chapter, the author states, "I mixed my memories with imagination to make stories, to make fiction, and when I finished writing, I had a book, my fifth novel....It became my first published book....I continued to write stories about kids and to rummage through the attic of my memories." Lucky for his readers!ÄKate Kohlbeck, Randall School, Waukesha, WI (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Jerry Spinelli was born in Norristown, Pennsylvania on February 1, 1941. He received a bachelor's degree from Gettysburg College and a master's degree from Johns Hopkins University. He worked as an editor with Chilton from 1966 to 1989. He launched his career in children's literature with Space Station 7th Grade in 1982. He has written over 30 books including The Bathwater Gang, Picklemania, Stargirl, Milkweed, and Mama Seeton's Whistle. In 1991, he won the Newbery Award for Maniac Magee. In 1998, Wringer was named a Newbery Honor book.

(Bowker Author Biography)

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