Posted by : Deborah Takahashi Saturday, April 5, 2014

Plot Summary:
Just when everything was quiet and peaceful at Mica High, the student body got a surprise they weren't expecting: Stargirl Carraway. For Leo, everything is always the status quo; everyone looked alike and everyone had their place. When Stargirl showed up in her outrageous outfit, and ukelele, he didn't know what to think, nor did he know what to say. Well, at first, everyone thought that Stargirl was a gimmick and probably a plant by the administration to shake things up a bit. However, when everyone figured out Stargirl was 100% original, and real, things started to change much to the chagrin of Hillary Kimble (the most popular girl in school). In fact, the more the students observed Stargirl, she stirred something inside all of them, which led to a concept they were not so familiar with: individuality. When Kevin kept pestering Leo to interview Stargirl for the school television show (The Hot Seat), he started to become protective of Stargirl simply because he thought the idea was cruel. When Leo found out that he and Stargirl share a common thread, he started asking questions and that is when he started to notice her sweet freckles and sandy blonde hair. Although Stargirl was homeschooled all her life, why did she do the things she did like singing happy birthday to complete strangers, showing up to funerals to pay her respects, and many other random things? Furthermore, what if Leo started developing feelings for someone he just can't figure out? More importantly, what would people think of him if they knew that his heart was captured by an uncontrollable force that is so new and unknown?

Critical Evaluation:
I cannot express how much this book reflected my own life at high school. In fact, I was definitely one of the Stargirl-types and I loved every moment. Although I didn't have a conflicted romance like Leo and Stargirl, I can definitely imagine the heartache they both felt. For Leo, he blew it big time because he was so afraid to do something that would require him to "step outside of the box" and be an individual. If there is one lesson to learn from this story is to never be afraid of who we are and accept others for who they are (and not what they look, talk like, etc). High school is probably the biggest wake up call teens will ever get because they not only have to deal with the pressure of succeeding, they have to stand up for their beliefs and deal with people who don't share the same opinions as we do. Not to mention, they will learn why "fads" and called "fads" and why we should never equate the two of them with people. Ultimately, this book is about respect, kindness, and understanding and that can be a very hard lesson to learn if one is afraid or unwilling to try. For Stargirl, she handled everyone like a champ despite the criticism and bullying. In fact, readers will definitely relate to Stargirl, especially when we meet Hillary Kimble. Sadly, there will, and always, be a Hillary Kimble at every school, but the best way to manage people like her is to not take anything they say seriously and not allow them to bully. Jerry Spinelli has the magic touch when it comes to these topics because readers can really see the heart of the issue and the consequences.  Going back to Leo blowing it (I was really upset that he did), Stargirl made an important decision to stay true to who she is and, although Leo couldn't accept her for who she is, she still smiled and thought of him. Stargirl is the epitome of good and readers will get a further glimpse into this pure soul in the sequel: Love, Stargirl.

Information about the Author:
According to
When I was growing up, the first thing I wanted to be was a cowboy. That lasted till I was about ten. Then I wanted to be a baseball player. Preferably shortstop for the New York Yankees.
I played Little League in junior high and high school. I only hit two home runs in my career, but I had no equal when it came to standing at shortstop and chattering to my pitcher: “C'mon, baby, hum the pea.” Unfortunately, when I stood at the plate, so many peas were hummed past me for strikes that I decided to let somebody else become shortstop for the Yankees.
It was about that time that our high school football team won a heart-stopping game against one of the best teams in the country. While the rest of the town was tooting horns and celebrating, I went home and wrote a poem about the game. A few days later the poem was published in the local newspaper, and suddenly I had something new to become: a writer.
Little did I know that twenty-five years would pass before a book of mine would be published.
Not that I wasn't trying. In the years after college I wrote four novels, but nobody wanted them. They were adult novels. So was number five, or so I thought. However, because it was about a thirteen-year-old boy, adult book publishers didn't even want to see it. But children's publishers did — and that's how, by accident, I became an author of books for kids.
Life is full of happy accidents.
Sometimes I'm asked if I do research for my stories. 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 fifteen 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.
John Ribble's blazing fastball. Dovey Wilmouth, so beautiful a fleet of boys pedaled past her house ten times a day. Mrs. Seeton's whistle calling her kids in to dinner. The day my black snake disappeared. The creek, the tracks, the dump, the red hills. My days did not pass through, but stayed, filling the shelves of my memory. They became the library where today I do my research.
I also get material from my own kids. Along the way I married another children's writer, Eileen Spinelli, and from our six kids have come a number of stories. Jeffrey and Molly, who are always fighting, have been especially helpful.
Ideas also come from everyday life. And from the newspapers. One day, for example, I read a story about a girl who competed on her high school wrestling team. A year later bookstores carried a new book with my name on it: There's a Girl in My Hammerlock.
So there you are. I never became a cowboy or baseball player, and now I'm beginning to wonder if I ever really became a writer. I find that I hesitate to put that label on myself, to define myself by what I do for a living. After all, I also pick berries and touch ponies and skim flat stones over water and marvel at the stars and breathe deeply and grin from ear to ear and save the best part for last. I've always done these things. Which is to say, I never had to become anything. Or anyone. I always, already, was.
Call me a berry-picking, pony-touching star-marveler.

Teen Contemporary Fiction, Teen Romance

Reading Level/Interest:
Grades 8 & up

Books Similar to Stargirl:
 Awards & Recognition:

“A magical and heartbreaking tale.”—Kirkus Reviews, Starred

An ALA Top Ten Best Book for Young Adults

A Publishers Weekly Choice of the Year’s Best Books

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Deborah Takahashi
Pasadena, CA, United States
My name is Deb and I am a Librarian who absolutely loves to read and recommend books to teen and tween readers. In this blog, you will find reviews on a variety resources ranging from books, movies, video games, and much more. Please feel free to leave any feedback, especially book recommendations!
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