…but don’t worry, my husband’s totally ok with it. 🙂
I was introduced to Jerry Spinelli’s work via my good friend Michelle Simmons, and her love of his book Crash. We taught together many years ago, and she introduced me to it as one of the first read-alouds of the year. But not only did we read it to enjoy it as readers, we incorporated it into our writing unit on Reading Like a Writer. We’d reread parts of the text that we’d already heard, this time digging for nuggets and craft moves we could use in our own writing, teaching our students to do the same things. You can find amazing things in that book if you pay attention. And because Crash is such an amazing book on so many levels, it is a must-read every year in my class now.
The reason I write about this today, though, comes from inspiration of another colleague of mine. I have a new teammate, Bridget, who shares my love for Spinelli and his many great stories. We were talking about some of our favorites, and I had to sheepishly admit that while I was aware of, and even own most of his books, I have only ever actually read Crash. I know–that’s just silly. So they became the majority of my to-be-read pile this last month. Only makes sense, right? On so many levels.
First I read Eggs–one I’d actually started at the time I first bought it, but never finished. Just today I finished Maniac Magee. I know–how could I have never read that one? It’s a classic. And it won the Newberry Medal. Sorry! I’m lame. But I’ve made up for that now, right?
I have Loser and Wringer here in my pile, still waiting for their turn. I hope to get to them soon, as well. And while now my list of Spinellis-I’ve-read is only 3, my initial opinion on his writing holds true.
I know–you wonder, “What is it that love so much about his writing?” It’s many things, really. I love the way his writing sounds. I know that’s hard to explain, but I’ve heard it many more times out loud than in my head, since I read it to my students, and every word just has such a great ring to it. Like he chooses each and every one specifically to be there together. I like that he seems to break every established rule of grammar and mechanics and still ends up with an amazing story that makes sense. He writes sentences that have only one word, chapters and paragraphs with only one sentence. But because he does it on purpose, it works. I like how the characters in his stories have real conversations. They actually sound the way that kind of person would sound in real-life–not some sweet, idealized, sugar-coated way because they’re in a book for kids. Raw and real. Sometimes saying things that shock you, because that makes sense for the character. I like that he writes about things that matter, things that both kids and adults can relate to. Bullies. Friends. Racism. Families. Things that aren’t so pretty.
So like I said when I started, I love Jerry Spinelli! I learn from him every time I pick up a book he’s written, and he’s a mentor even though I’ve never met him. That’s pretty cool, I think.
How ’bout you? Who are your favorite authors? Who do you have as mentors for your writing? What books are your favorite to read? Share with me. 🙂