Spinelli, Jerry. Stargirl. Knopf, 2000. ISBN 0-679-88637-0. $15.95. 186 pp. * 8-12 FI Reviewed by Emily M. Jones From the beginning pages of Stargirl, a very “ordinary” high school in Mica, Arizona, is bowled over by an extraordinary student. Even Spinelli seems pressed to put this “Stargirl” into words: She laughed where there was no joke. She danced when there was no music. She had no friends, yet she was the friendliest person in school. In her answers in class, she often spoke of sea horses and stars, but she did not know what a football was. In our minds we tried to pin her to a corkboard like a butterfly, but the pin merely went through and she flew away. The story is told from the perspective of Leo Borlock, a student at Mica High whose fascination with Stargirl turns to all-out first love. When the student body’s short-lived adulation for Stargirl turns to cruel meanness and even worse, shunning, Leo pleads with her to be more “normal.” Faintly reminiscent of his mythical-but-not-mythical main character in the Newbery Award-winning Maniac Magee, Stargirl is a fascinating blend of eccentricity and innocence that is sure to appeal to both genders. Spinelli deftly explores the complexity of popularity, the intrigue of individuality, and the exhilaration of first love. Stargirl is brimming with discussion-catalysts for the classroom or home. We are introduced to a world of color and humankind that many of us have never before noticed and, at the same time, are invited to ask hard questions about who and what we really are. Highly recommended.
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