Knots in My Yo-yo String: The Autobiography of a Kid

Knots in My Yo-yo String: The Autobiography of a Kid

4.0 55
by Jerry Spinelli
     
 

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"A master of those embarrassing, gloppy, painful, and suddenly wonderful things that happen on the razor's edge between childhood and full-fledged adolescence" (The Washington Post),  Newbery medalist Jerry Spinelli has penned his early autobiography with all the warmth, humor, and drama of his best-selling fiction.

From first memories through

Overview

"A master of those embarrassing, gloppy, painful, and suddenly wonderful things that happen on the razor's edge between childhood and full-fledged adolescence" (The Washington Post),  Newbery medalist Jerry Spinelli has penned his early autobiography with all the warmth, humor, and drama of his best-selling fiction.

From first memories through high school, including first kiss, first punch, first trip to the principal's office, and first humiliating sports experience, this is not merely an account of a highly unusual childhood. Rather, like Spinelli's fiction, its appeal lies in the  accessibility and universality of his life. Entertaining and fast-paced, this is a highly readable memoir-- a must-have for Spinelli fans of all ages.


From the Trade Paperback edition.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In this montage of sharply focused memories punctuated with b&w photographs, Spinelli (Maniac Magee; Wringer) reconstructs the experience of growing up during the '50s. His descriptions of his childhood universe (which does not extend beyond Norristown, Pa.) elicits the use of all five senses. He invites readers to gaze upon the same stars he studied as a child; to listen for the "not-very-loud" whistle of Mrs. Seeton calling not only her own brood but all the kids home to their suppers ("for a mother's call somehow touches us all"); to smell the "sour, vaguely rotten" aroma of the Adam Scheidt Brewing Company; to savor the taste of Texas Hot Wieners ("They had spunk. They fought back"); and to feel the "clack" of colliding teeth during his first kiss with Kathy Heller (in a game of Truth or Consequences). The audience might be content to bask in the warm glow of post-WWII reflections, but the author has other plans: he shows readers how the seeds of a writer were planted in his youth. Wedged between sometimes painful, more often hilarious scenes of preadolescent and adolescent angst are quiet, contemplative moments when young Spinelli develops his artistic imagination replaying the days' events and pondering such mysteries as time, space and the origin of knots in his yo-yo string. As Spinelli effortlessly spins the story of an ordinary Pennsylvania boy, he also documents the evolution of an exceptional author. Ages 10-13. (Apr.)
Children's Literature - Sharon Salluzzo
When a student asked him, "Do you think being a kid helped you become a writer?" Spinelli's response was "Yes, I believe it did." And so, he has given us a readable and engaging memoir of his childhood. He discusses family, friends, his feelings and his activities. He tells us things he is proud of, embarrassed by, and ashamed of but never becomes preachy. The simple map of Norristown, PA highlights the houses and sites that he discusses in the text. He has given us a view of growing up in mid-twentieth century America that is both universal and personal. Readers familiar with his books will discover the scenes and events that have influenced his writings. It is a great way for students to learn how an author uses his experiences to create a new story. Teachers can use Spinelli's list of "Sixteen Things I Wished I Could Do" to inspire students to write.
Children's Literature - Children's Literature
Newbery medallist Spinelli steers readers through his early life. He seems to enjoy the journey himself, filling it with the same kind of sensory descriptions, humor, thought, and feelings that make his novels so popular. Spinelli's growing up seems common enough--he played war, cowboy, and later, all sports. He yo-yoed, loved his dog, and later, discovered girls and kissing. It's the telling that makes all the difference. Spinelli's early life was filled with fascinating characters, many of whom have made their way into his novels. The events he describes may not be extraordinary, but his intriguing and reflective insights seem so. 1999, Knopf, Ages 9 to 12, $16.99 and $9.99. Reviewer: Susie Wilde
School Library Journal
Gr 5 UpA loving reminiscence of childhood. Although the first five pages are slow moving, detail laden, and rather puzzling in parts, the rest of the book takes off as Spinelli takes small, seemingly insignificant snippets of the 10 years he lived on George Street on the West End of Norristown, PA, and explains from his adult viewpoint how they were stepping-stones to his success as a popular children's book author. Even though he only read cereal boxes and comic books as a child, he displays and describes his "early leaning toward language." Phrases such as "music's bunkhouse" to define an old crank phonograph, and using "picturing" to "co-create the moment" to show how listening to the radio was interactive, are evidence of his talent with words. In a conversational tone, Spinelli fondly recalls neighbors, pastimes, and events of the 1940s and 50s. Black-and-white photos present amusing images from his past. Readers may not be familiar with all of the lingo (Bonomo's Turkish taffy) or personalities (Lash La Rue), but they will enjoy the humorous episodes. In the last chapter, the author states, "I mixed my memories with imagination to make stories, to make fiction, and when I finished writing, I had a book, my fifth novel....It became my first published book....I continued to write stories about kids and to rummage through the attic of my memories." Lucky for his readers!Kate Kohlbeck, Randall School, Waukesha, WI
From the Publisher
"Brilliant." —Chicago Tribune

"[A] warm, deeply personal memoir. Readers will know that a regular kid can remember all the important stuff when he grows up."—Booklist

"As Spinelli effortlessly spins the story of an ordinary Pennsylvania boy, he also documents the evolution of an exceptional author."—Publishers Weekly, Starred

"[A] richly rewarding autobiography."—The Horn Book

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780307486851
Publisher:
Random House Children's Books
Publication date:
01/21/2009
Sold by:
Random House
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
160
Sales rank:
170,744
Lexile:
980L (what's this?)
File size:
4 MB
Age Range:
9 - 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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Knots in My Yo-Yo String 4 out of 5 based on 1 ratings. 55 reviews.
luvluvluv More than 1 year ago
This book was really interesting! It has a very interesting format and the title was so eye-catching! You must read it!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved this book it is great for book reports or just to relax!
Erica Brier-kennedy More than 1 year ago
I think i might want to read it, jerry spenelli is a awesome author, you should red his book Eggs!
Wilson Caraballo More than 1 year ago
that book is great that kid must of had a great life
Guest More than 1 year ago
I think biographies are usually boring but this one is very interesting and exiting.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Knots In My Yo-Yo String was great. Has great pictures and you can find things in this books from other books he wrote.
Sonia Salinas More than 1 year ago
it was awsome
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Amazing... just...incredible...!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I thought knots in my yo yo string was ok. It could of been better. One thing he should of added was his birthday. It doesn't really tell alot of accomplishments. I hope if someone writes another book about him they include his birthday and if they can his bith hospital.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Knots in my yo-yo string was a great book. I read it and my teacher says there is lots of stuff that connects with other books. (She BEGS us not to read Maniac Magee!!!)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Ken10 More than 1 year ago
The book Knots in My Yo-yo String by Jerry Spaniel is all about the events he encountered. It tells the reader about his feelings, his reaction, and his thoughts. This book has a mix of high and low points. It gives the reader knowledge, and action. To me this book was different, but it was good. I would recommend this book to teens because it`s more about what it was like for him when he was a teen. There were two things that stood out to me, and they were the action which is described by descriptive language, and the lessons each section gives the reader about certain situations they may encounter as a teenager.  In this book there was only one thing I did not like about it, and that was how he used so many subjects at once. However, that meant there wasn’t a dull moment in the book. I encourage teens to read this book because it gives you tips about situations you may get into. This book also shows what can happen to you when you do them. It doesn’t just teach about lessons. It teaches you about life, and that is why I highly recommend teens to take a couple minutes out of their day to sit down and read this book. If I had to choose I would give this book 3 stars. I gave it only 3 stars because it had action, descriptive language, and lessons. However, there are other ways the writer could have made this book better. 
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How do i look at it can i do that
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Kind of dull
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