by Jerry Spinelli
Age Level: 09-12
"There are winners everywhere .... The sidewalks. The backyards. The alleyways. The playgrounds ...Except for Zinkoff. Zinkoff never wins. But Zinkoff doesn't notice. Neither do the other pups.
Zinkoff is like all kids -- running, playing, riding his bike. Hoping for snow days, wanting to be his dad when he grows up.
Zinkoff is not like the other kids -- raising his hand with all the wrong answers, tripping over his own feet, falling down with laughter over a word like "Jabip." The kids have their own word to describe him, but Zinkoff is too busy to hear it.
Once again, Newbery Medal-winning author Jerry Spinelli uses great wit and humor to create the unique story of Zinkoff as he travels from first through sixth grades. Loser is a touching book about the human spirit, the importance of failure, and how any name can someday be replaced with "hero."
"Spinelli here enters the consciousness of the social pariah....Through the use of the omniscient narrator, Spinelli builds up to the boy's "unveiling" with examples of Zinkoff's uncontrollable giggling in first grade, his one-sided friendship with his next-door neighbor, and his forced poor-sport behavior on the soccer field when the hero's team does not win....the author demonstrates the differences between those who can continue to see with the more compassionate "little-kid eyes" and those who lose sight of what is truly important."
"Donald Zinkoff is a kid everyone will recognize-the one with the stupid laugh who cracks up over nothing, the klutz who trips over his own feet, the overly exuberant student who always raises his hand but never has the right answers....Zinkoff is a flawed but tough kid with an unshakable optimism that readers will find endearing. "Losers" in schools everywhere will find great comfort in this story, and the kids who would so casually brand their classmates should read it, too."
School Library Journal
No matter what the game, Zinkoff never wins. The kids have their own word to describe him, but Zinkoff is too busy to hear it. With some of his finest writing to date, Newbery Medal-winning author Spinelli uses wit and emotion to create the unique story of boy as he travels from first through sixth grade.