Crash

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Overview

Now available in paperback, Newbery Medalist Jerry Spinelli's hilarious, poignant story of  cocky seventh-grade superjock Crash Coogan.  

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.

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Crash

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Overview

Now available in paperback, Newbery Medalist Jerry Spinelli's hilarious, poignant story of  cocky seventh-grade superjock Crash Coogan.  

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.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Readers will devour this humorous glimpse of what jocks are made of." —School Library Journal, starred review "Spinelli packs a powerful moral wallop, leaving it to the pitch-perfect narration to drive home his point."—Publishers Weekly
Publishers Weekly
Seventh-grader jock Crash Coogan has been tormenting his skinny Quaker neighbor for years, but when a stroke leaves Crash's beloved grandfather severely disabled, he begins to realize that there are more important things in life than being a sports star. "Spinelli packs a powerful moral wallop, leaving it to the pitch-perfect narration to drive home his point," wrote PW. Ages 12-up. (May) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Spinelli (There's a Girl in My Hammerlock) takes the brawny, bullying jock who is the villain in so many middle-grade novels and casts him as the narrator of this agile tale. Ever since first grade "Crash" Coogan has been tormenting dweeby Penn Ward, a skinny vegetarian Quaker boy who lives in a tiny former garage with his aged parents. Now that they're in seventh grade, "chippy chirpy perky" Penn becomes an even better target: not only does Penn still wear outdated used clothes, he joins the cheerleading squad. But even though Crash becomes the school's star football player and wears the most expensive togs from the mall, he still can't get what Penn has-his parents' attention and the admiration of the most gorgeous girl in school. And when his beloved grandfather Scooter is severely disabled by a stroke, Crash no longer sees the fun in playing brutal pranks and begins to realize that there are more important things in life than wearing new sneaks and being a sports star. Without being preachy, Spinelli packs a powerful moral wallop, leaving it to the pitch-perfect narration to drive home his point. All ages. (Mar.)
Children's Literature - Mary Sue Preissner
Penn Webb and Crash Coogan are unlikely to become friends. Penn is new to town, puny, wears clothing from the second hand store, and he is a vegetarian and a Quaker. Crash is the star running back of the school football team, bullies others, and inflicts his opinions on everyone. For many years, Crash has bullied Penn. But during 7th grade, while coping with his sassy save-the-earth younger sister, overworked parents, the "hots" for a certain cheerleader, and an ill grandfather, Crash comes into his own. Spinelli humorously tells this coming of age story.
Children's Literature - Susie Wilde
Countless books have an antihero who's a bully-jock. I don't remember ever seeing through the eyes of a character like that until I read Spinelli's book. Crash has sported this nickname since the Christmas he got his first football helmet and bowled over a female cousin who was coming to visit. As the years pass, he adds to his tough-guy image by becoming a football hero who battles his way down the field and tormenting Penn Webb, a sensitive, vegetarian, environmentalist. Crash has a thick cruel skin. When his beloved grandfather has a stroke, Crash begins to reevaluate the role he's lived for so many years. "I had always thought my name and me were the same thing," he wonders to himself, "Now there was a crack of daylight between them, like my shell was coming loose. It was scary." That crack widens until he begins to understand and like who he really is. Short chapters, humor, sports, and great characters make this a sure-win for reluctant readers and a great read aloud.
School Library Journal
Gr 5-8A winning story about seventh-grade Crash Coogan's transformation from smug jock to empathetic, mature young man. In a clever, breezy first-person style, Spinelli tackles gender roles, family relationships, and friendship with humor and feeling. As the novel opens, Crash feels passionately about many things: the violence of football; being in charge; the way he looks in shoulder pads; never being second in anything; and the most expensive sneakers at the mall. Although a stereotypical bully, the boy becomes more than one-dimensional in the context of his overworked, unavailable parents and the love he has for his grandfather, who comes to live with the Coogans and then suffers a stroke. It is because of his affection for Scooter that Crash comes to appreciate Penn Webb, a neighbor and classmate whom for years Crash has tormented and teased about his pacifism, vegetarianism, second-hand clothes, and social activism. Penn relentlessly offers friendship, which Crash finally accepts when he sees Penn's love for his own great-grandfather as a common bond. The story concludes as Penn, named by his great-grandfather for Philadelphia's famous Penn Relays, wins the school race while the elderly man looks on. Readers will devour this humorous glimpse at what jocks are made of while learning that life does not require crashing helmet-headed through it.Connie Tyrrell Burns, Mahoney Middle School, South Portland, ME
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780679885504
  • Publisher: Random House Children's Books
  • Publication date: 3/28/1997
  • Pages: 176
  • Sales rank: 42,441
  • Age range: 8 - 12 Years
  • Product dimensions: 5.25 (w) x 7.58 (h) x 0.44 (d)

Meet the Author

Jerry Spinelli

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.

Jerry Spinelli is the author of more than a dozen books for young readers, including Maniac Magee, winner of the Newbery Medal. His latest novel, Stargirl, was a New York Times bestseller and an ALA Top Ten Best Book for Young Adults.

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Read an Excerpt

My real name is John. John Coogan. But everybody calls me Crash, even my parents.

It started way back when I got my first football helmet for Christmas. I don't really remember this happening, but they say that when my uncle Herm's family came over to see our presents, as they were coming through the front door I got down into a four-point stance, growled, "Hut! Hut! Hut!" and charged ahead with my brand-new helmet. Seems I knocked my cousin Bridget clear back out the doorway and onto her butt into a foot of snow. They say she bawled bloody murder and refused to come into the house, so Uncle Herm finally had to drag his whole family away before they even had a chance to take their coats off.

Like I said, personally I don't remember the whole thing, but looking back at what I do remember about myself, I'd have to say the story is probably true. As far as I can tell, I've always been crashing—into people, into things, you name it, with or without a helmet.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 292 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(201)

4 Star

(52)

3 Star

(18)

2 Star

(7)

1 Star

(14)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 297 Customer Reviews
  • Posted April 12, 2011

    I Love this book! You have to read it!!

    I read this book on the way back from a family vacation to the beach, it was so entertaining it made the 6 hour trip feel like 5 min.! As a middle school student myself I could really relate to all the characters. When you're reading this book, you become attached to all the characters wanting to laugh with them, cry with them, and you sometimes even get mad at them. In this book the main character Crash Coogan and his best friend Mike are the school's star football players, and don't forget bullies. They think they're really something special if they're only in 7th grade and they're already a household name. Other then being show offs, one of their favorite activities are making Penn Webbs life miserable, but being a football sensation isn't all it's cracked up to be, when Crash starts to figure out that Webb has something that he will never have, and it doesn't matter how many games they win. Crash starts to learn the hard life lesson of who your true friends really are.

    34 out of 36 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 7, 2012

    Pappydap

    This book is sooo hilarious. It is made for both boys and girls and is a must-read. I think the funniest part was when Crash got the idea that his grandpa would die if he didn't get a gift for him, so he gets a pair of red high heels. Even a 6 year old would find a more reasonable gift. The overall story teaches a good and enjoyable moral and would be great to recommend to preteens and teens.

    15 out of 18 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 26, 2008

    Book review for Ms. Castle

    This book I can relate to a lot. The main character, Crash, is like me in most ways. We both like football and are good at it. We have friends who are good at it too. The only thing we don't have in common is that I don't have any grandfathers and he does. His grandfather was a sailor and my grandfather was a drunkard. He has one sister and i have two but they get on our nerves. There's this boy that just moved in a couple of years back and he's kind of geekish. They always do bad things to him but he doesn't really care. This geekish guy is slowly tearing his life apart. He wants to do bad things to him but not as bad as his friend wants him to. That's tearing him away from his friend. It's tearing the girl he likes away from him because she likes the geek and not him. He's tearing his sister away from Crash by protesting against a mall. And he's about to take his spot on the track team.

    10 out of 15 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 22, 2012

    Crash

    The book was funny.

    5 out of 12 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 29, 2012

    Love this book

    Jerry spinelli is a genius! Wonderfuly writen fantastic way of telling how crash evolves through the storie. Great book on bullying. I've reas this book gazillions of times. Never gets old

    4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 11, 2012

    Crash is a great book! I loved reading it because it was so ente

    Crash is a great book! I loved reading it because it was so entertaining and relatable, it also contained alot of humor which added to the fun of reading it. The main characters are Crash Coogan, Mike and Penn. Crash and Mike are both star football players at their school. But they are both a bit self centered, bossy and sometimes they can be bullies. Crash also is ungrateful and sometimes doesn't understand or respect life and what really counts. But when Crash's grandfather becomes sick and has a stroke, he begins to understand how to respect other people and be thankful for what he has. I would definatlety reccomend this book to everyone but particularly people who like humor but also heart felt moments. I think some people would also enjoy because they could be able to learn a really important life lesson.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 1, 2012

    Nice

    Read at school for teacher litachure circles it was good

    3 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 12, 2013

    Best book ever!

    I loved how the author shows how even the toughest of kids have a soft spot. Literally from the first page, I was interested in the book. The way that the author uses an surprisingly accurate kid's point of view is hilarious! I would give it 10 stars if I could! Very touching!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 24, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    Crash is one of those books that I've seen included on recommend

    Crash is one of those books that I've seen included on recommendation lists for years, and I've always thought, "yeah, I should read that so that I can recommend it to boys," but I never did. I saw it included on a list last week as one of the 50 Best Books for Boys and had a lady come into the book store looking for it, and I thought, "that's it...that's just too much of a sign for me to ignore it any longer." So I read it this afternoon...yeah, it's that quick of a read and I really enjoyed it. Most of the readers talked about how funny it was, but I was more struck at the subtlety of the writing.

    John "Crash" Coogan is not that likable; he's a typical nascent jock, thinks he's got to be the best, the fastest, the toughest. He's not that bright, but doesn't seem to care although when the new dorky guy, Penn, named after some race Crash has never heard of, he finds himself both fascinated and repelled by him. I don't know if younger readers get the mix of those feelings. Crash seems to just be making fun of Penn, but really he's so deeply envious of Penn's caring and involved parents, his security in speaking up for or acting on his beliefs, his total comfort in the core of what makes him Penn that Crash just has to punish him. Eventually though it is both the boys' love for their grandfathers that makes them the same, and also it's where Crash is redeemed as a character. Jerry Spinelli wrote a lovely little book that boys and girls can learn something from...and adult readers can enjoy it, too.

    As for me, yep, I've got another boy-centric book that I can recommend to my customers.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 26, 2014

    Awesome

    After reading just the first few pages i couldnt put the book down. Personally, i dislike reading but this book really stuck out to me. My friend knew i didnt like reading so she recommended this book to me because it doesnt have too many pages and the author did a great job with how dramatic the boys live is when others pick on him. Honestly i recommend this novel to all children and teenagers!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 14, 2013

    A MUST READ!!!

    I had to read this for my sixth grade summer reading...it is REALLY good! I read this in three hours!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 16, 2013

    Its awesome

    Its a real good book

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 2, 2012

    I'm reading this book now and please read my comment

    I love this book when I have spare time I read the book I read it on the bus on my way to school I really recomend this book.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 23, 2012

    Reviwer101*

    Good book for 4 grade and up

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 10, 2012

    Best book

    My faviret dook ever

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 5, 2012

    thanks it sounds like a good book for a 6th grader that thinks h

    thanks it sounds like a good book for a 6th grader that thinks hes tough
    ljso 5

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 5, 2012

    This is an awesome book!

    This book is so awesome! When I was reading this, I couldn't pull myself away. Jerry Spinelli did a great job making the story of Crash( the main character) and all the other charcters.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 22, 2012

    Awsome book

    I had to read this book for part of my sixth grade summer reading. I love it! I bought it this afternoon and finished it at 8:37. Im probably going to read it again in august to refresh my memory. Someone i know had a stroke so when Crash grandfather had a stroke i was so upset.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 2, 2012

    Crash!

    You need to read this book!!!!!

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 16, 2012

    Awesome

    Im still in elrmentary school and my teacher read this book to the class and it was funny and awesome

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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