Knots in My Yo-yo String: The Autobiography of a Kid (Turtleback School & Library Binding Edition)

Knots in My Yo-yo String: The Autobiography of a Kid (Turtleback School & Library Binding Edition)

4.0 55
by Jerry Spinelli

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This Italian-American Newbery Medalist presents a humorous account of his childhood and youth in Norristown, Pennsylvania.  See more details below


This Italian-American Newbery Medalist presents a humorous account of his childhood and youth in Norristown, Pennsylvania.

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 - 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
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.
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

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Product Details

Demco Media
Publication date:
Edition description:
Product dimensions:
5.75(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.75(d)
Age Range:
10 - 13 Years

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