Thursday, November 3, 2011

Loser

November's Children's Book Club selection was Loser by Jerry Spinelli. This novel follows Donald Zinkoff from first through sixth grades as he navigates the highs and lows of elementary school.

Donald Zinkoff, quickly dubbed "Zinkoff" by all but his family, is a kid who does not know how uncool he is. He yells out "YAHOO!" at the most embarrasing times, constantly trips over his own two feet, spontaneously vomits on himself and others, and just does not act like the other kids. When a bully tries to take away a prized possession, Zinkoff ruins his fun by readily handing over the item, thinking that the bully must want it more than he, himself, needs it. While other kids drag their feet to school, Zinkoff makes sure that he's the first to arrive. When a teacher reverses the alphabetical seating order and places the usually banished-to-the-back-row Zinkoff in the front row, the boy feels like a kid at Christmas. Thankfully, Zinkoff is blissfully unaware of how much he sticks out among his peers. It's only when he gets his "big kid eyes" and realizes that others call him a "loser" that Zinkoff senses a difference. But he doesn't let any difference dampen his outlook on life and on himself.

Our third and fourth grade readers enjoyed the main themes of this book and the main character. They felt that Zinkoff might be a "spaz" but he is a nice kid who just marches to the beat of his own drummer. As Cameron stated, "Zinkoff doesn't care if he wins or loses. He's fun. He's nice." Those sentiments were echoed by Ben. Andreas thought that the book was "funny, because there are funny words in the story, like "jabip!" It was agreed that Zinkoff is behind others in his grade in terms of awareness of others and that he sometimes kills others with kindness. However, if they were to meet him in real life, the book club members feel that they'd be friends with Zinkoff since he would make a great friend: he's funny, loyal and likes to do fun things.

Four out of five stars for this month's selection (would those be some of Zinkoff's beloved silver stars??!!)!

December's Children's Book Club selection is The Magician's Elephant by Kate DiCamillo. I look forward to seeing you all there!

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