Crash

Crash

4.4 303
by Jerry Spinelli
     
 

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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. See more details below

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Overview

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.

Editorial Reviews

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that they're in seventh grade, "chippy chirpy perky" Penn becomes an even better target: not only does Penn still wear outdated used clothes, he joins the cheerleading squad.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
From the Publisher
"Without being preachy, Spinelli packs a powerful moral wallop, leaving it to the pitch-perfect narration to drive home his point" —Publishers Weekly.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780679885504
Publisher:
Random House Children's Books
Publication date:
03/28/1997
Pages:
176
Sales rank:
124,318
Product dimensions:
5.25(w) x 7.63(h) x 0.38(d)
Age Range:
12 Years

Meet 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.

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.


From the Hardcover Library Binding edition.

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