by Jerry Spinelli
School Library Journal
Gr 4-6-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. Following him from first grade to middle school, the story is not so much about how the boy changes, but rather how his classmates' perceptions of him evolve over the years. In first and second grades, his eccentricities and lack of coordination are accepted, but in third grade Zinkoff is "discovered." His classmates turn their critical eyes to him and brand him a loser. From then on, he endures the fate of so many outcasts-the last to be picked for the team, a favorite prey of bullies, and the butt of cruel comments from classmates. Despite his clumsiness and occasionally poor social skills, Zinkoff is a caring, sensitive boy with loving and supportive parents. He is remarkably good-natured about all the ostracizing and taunting, but his response is genuine. It is not na?vet? or obliviousness that gives Zinkoff his resilient spirit-he's a kid too busy being himself to worry about what other people think of him. Although perhaps not as funny as Jack Gantos's little hellion, Joey Pigza, 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.-Edward Sullivan, White Pine School, TN
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
From Booklist, May 15, 2002, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.:
Gr. 3-6. Poor Donald Zinkoff. What a loser--messy, clumsy, slow. And he's giggly--an all-purpose laugher, whether it's appropriate or not. Poor kid! He can't win for losing. And everybody knows it. Everybody except Donald, that is. As his second-grade teacher wrote on the back of his report card, Donald «is one happy child! And he certainly does love school!» Donald, it seems, loves everything; he's a sunshine bottle. Using a present-tense, omniscient narrative voice, Spinelli charts Donald's star-crossed course--from his troubled first day of school to an act of heroism that arguably earns him acceptance in sixth grade. It's impossible to dislike sunny, sweet-spirited Donald, and readers will doubtless be pleased by his victory--even though many will find it hard to believe that a normal child could be so relentlessly oblivious to his environment. Ultimately, this nagging question of credibility compromises the success of an otherwise fast-paced, engaging story.
¾: Michael Cart.: