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Synopsis|Excerpt

Synopsis

A beloved New York Times bestseller—now in trade paperback!

Love, Stargirl
picks up a year after Stargirl ends and reveals the new life of the beloved character who moved away so suddenly at the end of Stargirl. The novel takes the form of "the world's longest letter," in diary form, going from date to date through a little more than a year's time. In her writing, Stargirl mixes memories of her bittersweet time in Mica, Arizona, with involvements with new people in her life.

In Love, Stargirl, we hear the voice of Stargirl herself as she reflects on time, life, Leo, andof courselove.

A USA Today Bestseller
A Book Sense Children’s Pick
A
Publishers Weekly Bestseller

Excerpt

January 1

Dear Leo,

I love beginnings. If I were in charge of calendars, every day would be January 1.

And what better way to celebrate this New Year’s Day than to begin writing a letter to my once (and future?) boyfriend.

I found something today. Something special. The thing is, it’s been right in front of me ever since we moved here last year, but today is the first time I really saw it. It’s a field. A plain old vacant field. No house in view except a little white stucco bungalow off to the right. It’s a mile out of town, a one-minute bike ride from my house. It’s on a hill—the flat top of a hill shaped like an upside-down frying pan. It used to be a pick-your-own-strawberries patch, but now it grows only weeds and rocks.

The field is on the other side of Route 113, which is where my street (Rapps Dam Road) dead-ends. I’ve biked past this field a hundred times, but for some reason today I stopped. I looked at it. I parked my bike and walked into it. The winter weeds were scraggly and matted down, like my hair in the morning. The frozen ground was cloddy and rock-hard. The sky was gray. I walked to the center and just stood there.

And stood.

How can I explain it? Alone, on the top of that hill, in the middle of that “empty” field (Ha!—write this down, Leo: nothing is empty), I felt as if the universe radiated from me, as if I were standing on the X that marked the center of the cosmos. Until then I had done my daily meditation in many different places in and around town, but never here. Now I did. I sat down. I barely noticed the cold ground. I held my hands on my thighs, palms up to the world. I closed my eyes and dissolved out of myself. I now call it washing my mind.

The next thing I noticed was a golden tinge beyond my eyelids. I opened my eyes. The sun was seeping through the clouds. It was setting over the treetops in the west. I closed my eyes again and let the gold wash over me.

Night was coming on when I got up. As I headed for my bike, I knew I had found an enchanted place.

January 3

Oh, Leo, I’m sad. I’m crying. I used to cry a lot when I was little. If I stepped on a bug I’d burst into tears. Funny thing—I was so busy crying for everything else, I never cried for myself. Now I cry for me.

For you.

For us.

And now I’m smiling through my tears. Remember the first time I saw you? In the lunchroom? I was walking toward your table. Your eyes—that’s what almost stopped me in my tracks. They boggled. I think it wasn’t just the sight of me—long frontier dress, ukulele sticking out of my sunflower shoulder sack—it was something else too. It was terror. You knew what was coming. You knew I was going to sing to someone, and you were terrified it might be you. You quick looked away, and I breezed on by and didn’t stop until I found Alan Ferko and sang “Happy Birthday” to him. But I felt your eyes on me the whole time, Leo. Oh yes! Every second. And with every note I sang to Alan Ferko I thought: Someday I’m going to sing to that boy with the terrified eyes. I never did sing to you, Leo, not really. You, of all people. It’s my biggest regret. . . . Now, see, I’m sad again.

January 10

As I said last week, I wash my mind all over the place. Since the idea—and ideal—is to erase myself from wherever and whenever I am, I think I should not allow myself to become too attached to any one location, not even Enchanted Hill, as I call it now, or to any particular time of day or night.

So that’s why this morning I was riding my bike in search of a new place to meditate. Cinnamon was hitching a ride in my pocket. As I rode past a cemetery a splash of brightness caught my eye. It was a man sitting in a chair in front of a gravestone. At least I think it was a man, he was so bundled up against the cold. The bright splash was the red and yellow plaid scarf he wore around his neck. He seemed to be talking.

Before long I found myself back near my house, in a park called Bemus. I climbed onto a picnic table and got into my meditation position. (OK, back up . . . I’m homeschooling again. Gee, I wonder why—my Mica High School experience went so well! Ha ha. So I have to meet all the state requirements, right?—math, English, etc. Which I do. But I don’t stop there. I have other courses too. Unofficial ones. Like Principles of Swooning. Life Under Rocks. Beginner’s Whistling. Elves. We call it our shadow curriculum. ((Don’t tell the State of—oops, almost told you what state I’m living in.)) My favorite shadow subject is Elements of Nothingness. That’s where the mind wash comes in. Totally wiping myself out. Erasing myself. (((Remember the lesson I gave you in the desert?))) Which, when you think about it, is really not nothing. I mean, when I’m really doing it right, getting myself totally erased, I’m the opposite of nothing—I’m everything. I’m everything but myself. I’ve evaporated like water vapor into the universe. I am no longer Stargirl. I am tree. Wind. Earth.)

OK, sorry for the detour (and parenthetical overkill). . . . So there I was, sitting cross-legged on the picnic table, eyes closed, washing my mind (and getting school credit for it!), and suddenly I felt something on my eyelid. Probably a bug, I thought, and promptly washed away the thought, and the something on my eyelid just became part of everything else. But then the something moved. It traced across my eyelid and went down my nose and around the outline of my lips.


From the Hardcover edition.
Jerry Spinelli

About Jerry Spinelli

Jerry Spinelli - Love, Stargirl
“Whom do I write for? I write for the story. Each story, it seems to me, knows best how it should be told. As I once put my ear to the railroad track, I listen now for the voice of my story.”—Jerry Spinelli

Jerry Spinelli is the author of more than a dozen books for young readers, including Maniac Magee, winner of the Newbery Medal, and Stargirl a New York Times bestseller and an ALA Top Ten Best Book for Young Adults. Spinelli made his picture book debut with My Daddy and Me, a loving tribute to fathers and sons.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Growing up, Jerry Spinelli was really serious about baseball. He played for the Green Sox Little League team in his hometown of Norristown, Pennsylvania, and dreamed of one day playing for the major leagues, preferably as shortstop for the New York Yankees.

One night during high school, Spinelli watched the football team win an exciting game against one of the best teams in the country. While everyone else rode about town tooting horns in celebration, Spinelli went home and wrote “Goal to Go,” a poem about the game’s defining moment, a goal-line stand. His father submitted the poem to the Norristown Times–Herald and it was featured in the middle of the sports page a few days later. He then traded in his baseball bat for a pencil, because he knew that he wanted to become a writer.

After graduating from Gettysburg College with an English degree, Spinelli worked full time as a magazine editor. Every day on his lunch hour, he would close his office door and craft novels on yellow magazine copy paper. He wrote four adult novels in 12 years of lunchtime writing, but none of these were accepted for publication. When he submitted a fifth novel about a 13-year-old boy, adult publishers once again rejected his work, but children’s publishers embraced it. Spinelli feels that he accidentally became an author of children’s books.

Spinelli’s hilarious books entertain both children and young adults. Readers see his life in his autobiography Knots in My Yo-Yo String, as well as in his fiction. Crash came out of his desire to include the beloved Penn Relays of his home state of Pennsylvania in a book, while Maniac Magee is set in a fictional town based on his own hometown.

When asked if he does research for his writing, Spinelli says: “The answer is yes and no. No, in the sense that I seldom plow through books at the library to gather material. Yes, in the sense that the first 15 years of my life turned out to be one big research project. I thought I was simply growing up in Norristown, Pennsylvania; looking back now I can see that I was also gathering material that would one day find its way into my books.”

On inspiration, the author says: “Ideas come from ordinary, everyday life. And from imagination. And from feelings. And from memories. Memories of dust in my sneakers and humming whitewalls down a hill called Monkey.”

Spinelli lives with his wife and fellow writer, Eileen, in West Chester, Pennsylvania. While they write in separate rooms of the house, the couple edits and celebrates one another’s work. Their six children have given Jerry Spinelli a plethora of clever material for his writing.

PRAISE

CRASH
“Readers will devour this humorous glimpse of what jocks are made of while learning that life does not require crashing helmet-headed through it.”—Starred, School Library Journal

“Spinelli packs a powerful moral wallop, leaving it to the pitch-perfect narration to drive home his point.”—Publishers Weekly

KNOTS IN MY YO-YO STRING
“As Spinelli effortlessly spins the story of an ordinary Pennsylvania boy, he also documents the evolution of an exceptional author.”—Starred, Publishers Weekly

“In this warm, deeply personal memoir of the kid he was, Spinelli takes us to Norristown, Pennsylvania, in the 1950s.”—Booklist

STARGIRL
“Newbery-winning Spinelli spins a magical and heartbreaking tale from the stuff of high school.”—Starred, Kirkus Reviews

“Part fairy godmother, part outcast, part dream-come-true, the star of Spinelli’ s latest novel possesses many of the mythical qualities as the protagonist of his Maniac Magee.”—Starred, Publishers Weekly

“Sixteen-year-old Leo recounts Stargirl’ s sojourn at Mica High in an allegorical story that is engagingly written.”—Booklist

TOOTER PEPPERDAY
“Tooter is a real-life, plucky, resourceful heroine who scampers through this novel for new readers.”—The Horn Book Magazine

“The characters are well-developed—Tooter is at times reminiscent of Ramona—and the story is enjoyable.” —School Library Journal
Awards

Awards

WINNER 2007 Book Sense Children's Pick List
WINNER New York Public Library Books for the Teen Age
WINNER IRA Young Adult Choices
Teachers Guide

Teacher's Guide



ABOUT THIS BOOK

Recommended for grades 7 and up

Jerry Spinelli’s bestselling novel Stargirl is a deceptively complex tale about love and loss, about fitting in and standing out, about speaking out and being quiet. High school narrator Leo Borlock chronicles the impact just one new girl can have on an entire Arizona town. Love, Stargirl finds Stargirl again transplanted—this time farther east. In letter format, Stargirl herself breaths life into the odd and poignant minutiae of life and love. She explores her new neighborhood with an eye for the unusual. She notices the agoraphobic neighbor, the seemingly homeless young boy, and others who do not fit in easily. never one with an inclination to conform, empathizes with the outcasts, making many of them her new friends. In the “longest letter ever” to her old boyfriend, Leo, Stargirl explores the magic in her new home and her decision to mark time in her own unique way.

Thematic Connections

Friendship
Intergenerational Relationships
Community • Self-Esteem
Emotions & Feelings • Conformity

ABOUT THIS AUTHOR

Jerry Spinelli is the author of more than a dozen
books for young readers, including Maniac Magee,
winner of the Newbery Medal, and Stargirl, a New York
Times
bestseller and an ALA Top Ten Best Book for
Young Adults. He made his picture book debut with
My Daddy and Me, a loving tribute to fathers and sons.
He lives with his wife and fellow writer, Eileen,
in Wayne, Pennsylvania. While they write in
separate rooms of the house, the couple edits and
celebrates one another’s work together. Their six
children have given Jerry Spinelli a plethora of
clever material for his writing.

DISCUSSION AND WRITING

Questions for Group Discussion

• Spinelli develops characters effectively in many ways. One method of developing characters isthrough extensive use of details about each person.
For instance, Dootsie adores ketchup and Alvina wears a necklace with Winnie the Pooh dangling from it. What details help to reveal more about
these characters: Perry, Betty Lou, Stargirl’s mother and father, Stargirl herself.

• Stargirl writes to Leo early in the novel that nothing is empty. Even when she is sitting alone on the hill, she feels as if she is at the center of the universe. What does this observation reveal about Stargirl and her sense of herself?

• At first, Stargirl is reluctant to tell Leo much about her new home. Why is she a bit secretive? Why does she eventually relent and tell Leo more and
more about her new location?

• Trace the references to emptiness and loneliness in the novel. For example, Stargirl observes a lone goose in flight and wonders where the rest of the
flock is.

• Dootsie, Alvina, Perry, and Betty Lou share some similarities though each is a distinct character. Discuss the commonalities shared by these four
characters from the novel.

• On her field trip to the clock on the Morning Lenape Building, Stargirl reflects about clocks and time. What does this poem suggest about how
differently each person measures time? (p. 126) Based on the content of the poem, what would be the time for each of the following characters: Leo,
Stargirl, Dootsie, Alvina, Betty Lou.

• When Archie comes for the solstice celebration, he tells Stargirl that the students in Mica did the bunny hop again at the Ocotillo Ball. What is the
significance of this event?

Writing Activities

• Discuss with your class the difference point of view can make in the way one comprehends a novel. For instance, whereas Stargirl is told from
Leo’s point of view, Love, Stargirl is narrated by Stargirl. Ask students to select one passage from each of the novels. Have them rewrite the
passage from Stargirl using a different character’s point of view. They could elect to use Stargirl, Archie, Hillari, or Kevin. Ask them to
do the same for the passage from Love, Stargirl, writing from the point of view of Alvina, Betty Lou, or another one of the characters.

• Point out to students that Stargirl opens with a passage about porcupine neckties, and Love, Stargirl mentions the man sitting in a chair near a gravestone wearing a yellow and red plaid scarf. Ask students to note parallels such as this from the two novels. Have them select one of these parallels and write a paragraph that explains its significance to the continuing story of Stargirl.

• In both books, Stargirl is encouraged by her parents and by Archie to explore subjects of interest to her. Let students loose to design their own “shadow curriculums” like Stargirl’s! Prompt them to explore some of the nontraditional subjects they would elect to explore on their own. Ask them to write a lesson plan for one of the topics. Suggest extra credit for students who put their plan into action over the weekend and create journal reports
of their experience.

• There are several poems written by Stargirl on her various field trips in Love, Stargirl. Select one of the poems and rewrite the poem as a field report that contains facts about where Stargirl has visited. Conversely, select a key scene (e.g., her interview on the Hot Seat, the Ocotillo Ball,
etc.) from Stargirl and write it as a poem.

BEYOND THE BOOK

HOW TO START A STARGIRL SOCIETY

Stargirl Societies are currently underway in both middle schools and high schools. Inspired by the novel and its main character, the societies offer everyone a chance to become “Starkids” in their own right.

Suggested Objectives
• Promote individuality and self-confidence as an alternative to brand-name conformity
• Foster a sense of community in and out of school
• Inspire and role model for elementary-age students (and younger—one faculty advisor brought her two-year-old to a meeting!)
• Promote tolerance for everyone
• Encourage and practice sensitivity to others

Suggested Activitites
• Read and discuss the books, Stargirl, Stargirl’s vision, your vision
• Write and perform skits inspired by the stories
• Plan and carry out school and/or community projects (create constellations rather than committees)
• Have a shindig! Stage skits, games (losers get the biggest cheers), refreshments, and crafts— just be sure to come dressed as you’ve always
wanted to dress
• Hold an Inner-Beauty Pageant
• Create Stargirl totes, Happy Wagons, people cards, and/or porcupine neckties
• Drop spare change
• Write, plan, and perform a Stargirl musical
• Recite Stargirl’s Pledge of Allegiance
• Discover enchanted places
• Have a yoga and yogurt party
• Visit a planetarium or observatory
• Visit www.jerryspinelli.com/stargirl.htm for more great ideas!

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