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 Juvenile Books Author of the Month
Jerry Spinelli
Jerry Spinelli
1 February 1941 -- ???

Jerry Spinelli was born on February 1, 1941 in Norristown, Pennsylvania to Louis Anthony and Lorna Mae (Bigler) Spinelli. His father was a printer. He has one younger brother named Bill.

Spinelli was raised in the same town in which he was born, and like many boys, he dreamed of becoming a major league baseball player when he grew up. He did the usual kid stuff like riding his bike, playing chew-the-peg, flipping baseball cards, skimming flat stones across the creek, and wondering about girls.

He attended Stewart Junior High School and Eisenhower High School. He was a popular student, who was involved with sports and school government.

According to Spinelli, he started his writing career after his high school football team won a big game. He went home and wrote a poem about the game while everyone else was celebrating the team's success. That poem was published in the local newspaper. He has been writing ever sinse.

Upon completing high school, Spinelli attended classes at Gettysburg College in Pennsylvania, where he received a Bachelor of Arts Degree in English in 1963. He continued his education at Temple University, where he was a graduate assistant, and John Hopkins University, where he received a Master's Degree in creative writing in 1964.

In 1966, Spinelli took a position with the Chilton Company, a magazine publisher, in Radnor, Pennsylvania. He stayed with the Chilton Company, where he editted the trade journal Product Design and Development, until 1989. He also became a U.S. Naval Air Reservist in 1966, a posting he held until 1972. He attended boot camp and military school in Memphis, Tennessee and Denver, Colorado respectively.

Spinelli met his future wife Eileen Mesi, also a writer of children's books under her married name, while he was an editor for the Chilton Company. They were both waiting for a trolley. She mistakenly dumped two big loose-leaf notebooks of poems on his lap. The two married on May 21, 1977, and he became the instant father to Eileen's four sons (Kevin, Jeffrey, Sean, and Ben) and three daughters (Barbara, Lana, and Molly). He currently lives with his wife, Sean, and Ben in Phoenixville, Pennsylvania.

He began his writing career in 1982 with the publication of the novel Space Station Seventh Grade. Like many of his books, Spinelli pulled many of the ideas he used in the book from the experiences of his children.

Spinelli enjoys playing tennis, listening to country music, travelling, and pet rats.

Information for this biography was taken from:
1) Anne Commire (ed.). Something About the Authors, #39; Gale Research Company: Detroit, Mich., 1985.
2) Mona Kerby. "Jerry Spinelli Biography", Mona Kerby's The Author Corner; http://www.carr.lib.md.us/authco/spinelli-j.htm.
3) Laurie Lanzen Harris (ed.). Biography Today, 1993. Omnigraphics: Detroit, Mich., 1993.
4) "Jerry Spinelli", Children's Author Chat Series; http://www talkcity.com/educenter/trans/12-15-98.htmpl.
5) "Jerry Spinelli, 1941 -"; http://www.galenet.com.
6) Jerry Spinelli. Knots in My yo-yo String: The Autobiography of a Kid; Alfred A. Knopf: New York, 1998.

7) "Spinelli, Jerry - February 1, 1941, Authos", Educational Paperback Association; http://www.edupaperback.org/authorbios/Spinelli_Jerry.html.

J-Spinelli Crash (1996) -- Seventh-grader John "Crash" Coogan has always been comfortable with his tough, aggressive behavior until his relationship with an unusual Quaker boy and his grandfather's stroke make him consider the meaning of friendship and the importance of family.

J-Spinelli Fourth Grade Rats (1991) -- Suds learns that his best friend is wrong about having to be a tough guy, a rat, to be a grown up fourth grader.

J-Spinelli The Library Card (1997) -- The lives of four young people in different circumstances are changed by their encounters with books.

J-Spinelli Maniac Magee: A Novel (1990) -- After his parents die Jeffrey Lionel Magee's life becomes legendary as he accomplishes athletic and other feats that awe his contemporaries.

J-P-SPI Report to the Principal's Office (1991) -- Four totally different kids have only one thing in common -- they're about to report to the principal's office.

J-Spinelli/J-P-SPI There's a Girl in My Hammerlock (1991) -- Thirteen-year-old Maisie joins her school's formerly all-male wrestling team and tries to last through the season, despite opposition from other students, her best friend and her own teammates.

J-Spinelli Who Put That Hair in My Toothbrush? (1984) -- The sibling rivalry between twelve-year-old Megin and her older brother Greg intensifies after she ruins his science project and he retaliates by throwing her favorite hockey stick into the pond.

J-P-SPI Who Ran My Underwear Up the Flagpole? (1990) -- In the sequel to Report to the Principal's Office, sixth-grade misfits Sunny, Eddie, Salem, and Pickles jump on the school spirit bandwagon, but they do not agree to follow the crowd

J-Spinelli/J-LPeD-Spinelli Wringer (1997) -- As Palmer comes of age, he must either accept the violence of being a wringer at his town's annual Pigeon Day or find the courage to oppose it.

Mona Kerby. "Jerry Spinelli Biography",Mona Kerby's The Author Corner; (http://www.carr.lib.md.us/authco/spinelli-j.htm) - The transcript of an interview of Spinelli by Mona can be found at this site.

"Jerry Spinelli", Children's Author Chat Series; (http://www.talkcity.com/educented/trans12-15-98.htmpl) - Visitors will find a transcript for a chat session with Jerry Spinelli at this site.

"Jerry Spinelli, 1941 -", Gale Literary Databases; (http://www.galenet.com) - This site pulls together information collected on the author from the Contemporary Authors Reference series, which is produced by Gale Publications.

"Spinelli, Jerry - February 1, 1941, Author", Educational Paperback Association; (http://www.edupaperback.com/authorbios/Spinelli_Jerry.html) - The Educational Paperback Association has republished this biography written by Jerry Spinelli for the Sixth Book of Junior Authors and Illustrators.

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