Reassuring advice for every day of the year
From an esteemed husband-and-wife team comes a book of daily advice and insight. In dated entries meant to be read one per day, the Spinellis open with a brief quote from children’s literature, write a paragraph of lively advice inspired by that quote, and end with a “Today I will . . .” promise. The entries range from the broad (self-esteem, the environment, gratitude, and openmindedness) to the simple and specific (Today I will call a grandparent . . . smile at a new kid . . . take a walk . . . and send a snail-mail letter.).
With wide appeal to fans of both children’s literature and advice books, this cozy page-a-day volume (with black-and-white spot art) offers inspiring quotes, gentle guidance, and 366 “Today I will . . .” promises to thoughtful readers everywhere.
About Jerry Spinelli
“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.
“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
“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 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
About Eileen Spinelli
I, Jerry Spinelli, am writing this myself without help from my wife and fellow author, Eileen, because I need to do some bragging about her. It was her idea that led to our first book together: Today I Will. She remembered reading daily devotionals, and it occurred to her that young readers might like a day-by-day book based on literature.
There's a page in Today I Will for every day in the year—that’s 366 pages/days, including leap year. Each page starts with a quote from children's or young adult literature. Then comes a commentary on the quote, followed by a resolution—that is, how you can apply the message to your day. The idea is that you take a minute to read the day's page when you get up in the morning. It helps to give your day a little direction.
Today I Will is just the latest in a long parade of ideas that Eileen has blessed me with. The sequel to Stargirl—Love, Stargirl—is one. The Stargirl Journal is another.
Speaking of Stargirl, I guess you could say she gave me the idea for that one too, even though she never realized it. Listening to her talk about her childhood over the years, and getting to know this special person I happen to be married to, I found myself using Eileen again and again as my model as I developed the character of Susan Caraway, who names herself Stargirl. Two examples: Stargirl keeps notes on other people, so she knows when their birthdays are, what they like to eat, etc; and Stargirl has a “happy wagon.” I lifted both of these features from Eileen’s personal history.
She does more than supply me with ideas. She’s my first reader and editor. When I finish a chapter, I put it on her desk. (We each have an office in our house.) She tells me if it’s good (I go, “Yes!”) or not (I re-write). I do the same for her. It works so well for us, I sometimes wonder how any author can manage without a writing spouse.
Sometimes we get asked: “Do you compete with each other?” The question always surprises us. The fact is, we are each other’s biggest cheerleader. If Eileen writes a bestseller, I’m probably happier about it than she is. There are no losers in our house.
People who know we have seventeen grandchildren (at last count) often want to know if we get ideas from them. The answer is: Yes, we do. But there are many more sources to get stories from. We get story ideas from each other and from reading the newspaper and from memories of our own kidhoods and just from ordinary everyday life.
With all this writing stuff going on in our House of Two Authors, you might wonder that it took us this long to write a book together. Actually, we did try it once before, years ago. It was a story about ideas in the form of cute, furry little creatures running around the house. That story was one idea we could have done without. It flopped.