Stargirl [NOOK Book]

Overview

Leo Borlock follows the unspoken rule at Mica Area High School: don't stand out--under any circumstances! Then Stargirl arrives at Mica High and everything changes--for Leo and for the entire school. After 15 years of home schooling, Stargirl bursts into tenth grade in an explosion of color and a clatter of ukulele music, enchanting the Mica student body.

But the delicate scales of popularity suddenly shift, and Stargirl is shunned for ...
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Stargirl

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Overview

Leo Borlock follows the unspoken rule at Mica Area High School: don't stand out--under any circumstances! Then Stargirl arrives at Mica High and everything changes--for Leo and for the entire school. After 15 years of home schooling, Stargirl bursts into tenth grade in an explosion of color and a clatter of ukulele music, enchanting the Mica student body.

But the delicate scales of popularity suddenly shift, and Stargirl is shunned for everything that makes her different. Somewhere in the midst of Stargirl's arrival and rise and fall, normal Leo Borlock has tumbled into love with her.

In a celebration of nonconformity, Jerry Spinelli weaves a tense, emotional tale about the fleeting, cruel nature of popularity--and the thrill and inspiration of first love.

In this story about the perils of popularity, the courage of nonconformity, and the thrill of first love, an eccentric student named Stargirl changes Mica High School forever.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble

Daring to Be Different

In a moving and highly engaging tale about the vagaries of adolescent peer pressure, Newbery Medal winner Jerry Spinelli tells the story of Stargirl, a high school student who is startlingly different from everyone else. The need to conform -- and unabashed curiosity about those who don't -- are at the heart of this touching tale, which aptly demonstrates the peaks and pitfalls of popularity.

Sixteen-year-old high school student Leo Borlock knows how to fit in at Mica High School. He plays the game like everyone else but is more enthralled than most when a new girl comes to school. Stargirl Caraway is her name, or at least the name she is using for now. And after 15 years of homeschooling, she is decidedly different from even the oddest high school students at Mica High. First there's her unusual name, one in a long line of odd names that she has chosen to go by, ignoring her given name of Susan. Then there's the way she looks, shunning makeup and wearing long granny dresses. But all of that is small potatoes when compared to her behavior, which is as weird and bizarre as any of the students at Mica High have ever seen.

Stargirl carries a pet rat around with her and lets it sit on her shoulder whenever she serenades her fellow students with her ukulele. She leaves cards and small gifts on students' desks and in neighborhood doorways. She somehow knows the birthdays of everyone at the school and makes a point of singing "Happy Birthday" to them in the lunchroom. She often laughs when there is no joke and dances when there is no music. She is outspoken and friendly, yet has no friends of her own. And during basketball season, when asked to join the cheerleading squad, she cheers for every basket made, regardless of which team made the score.

There's no doubt about it, Stargirl marches to the beat of an all together different drummer. At first, the other students at Mica High are suspicious of her and think she might be a plant, someone placed in the school as a spy or as part of some bizarre psychology experiment. But Stargirl's whimsical ways and optimistic spirit eventually prove to be irresistible and before long, paranoia gives way to utter fascination. And the most fascinated of all is Leo, who is falling head over heels in love with this quirky girl.

The tide turns swiftly, however, and just as Leo and Stargirl are becoming an item, the student body suddenly decides Stargirl is a freak and a menace. She is shunned by nearly everyone as curiosity turns to disgust. While Stargirl seems blissfully unaware of this shift, Leo sees it, hates it, and starts pressuring Stargirl to try to conform. Solely to please Leo she does so, dressing like everyone else, behaving like everyone else, and even taking back her given name. But in the process of trying to make everyone like her, she loses the very magic and mystery that Leo has come to love in the first place. What's more, despite the changes, she is still shunned. In the end, Stargirl goes back to her old ways and her individuality will prove to be a key turning point in the lives of many, especially Leo's.

Spinelli has crafted a tale as magically appealing and fascinatingly offbeat as is its title character. He aptly captures the poignant excitement of young love, the bitter agonies of peer rejection, and the incredible cruelties teenagers all too often inflict on one another. Amid it all is this wondrous generosity of spirit that is Stargirl, a character who proves to be both enthralling and inspirational. Her story is a celebratory, albeit cautionary, tale about being openly accepting of others while remaining true to oneself.

—Beth Amos

Publishers Weekly
Part fairy godmother, part outcast, part dream-come-true, the star of Spinelli's novel shares many of the mythical qualities as the protagonist of his Maniac Magee. Spinelli poses searching questions about loyalty to one's friends and oneself and leaves readers to form their own answers, said PW in our Best Books citation. Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
From The Critics
From the day that Stargirl, a previously homeschooled sophomore, arrives at Mica High School, she is noticed for her eccentricities: the way she dresses; her overt friendliness and spontaneity; the fact that she plays her ukulele and sings loudly in the school cafeteria; and her genuine lack of concern for what others think of her. At first the school is stunned and doesn't know what to make of her. Then she sparks a school-spirit revolution at a football game, and instantly everyone wants to be her friend. But just as suddenly, the school turns on her and shuns her because she doesn't want to play by the rules of normal school life — namely, uniform conformity and spiteful competition. Narrated by Leo, a boy who falls for Stargirl, we listen intently as Leo desperately tries to make her acceptable to others by pleading with her to be someone she is not. Will Stargirl change? Or will she remain the same, charming rebel? This is a delightful, sometimes painful, but always provocative story of first love and teenage popularity. Another well-written work by Spinelli that will particularly appeal to young people and their eagerness to discuss today's high school culture. Genre: Individuality/Popularity 2000, Alfred A. Knopf, 186 pp., $15.96. Ages 10 up. Reviewer: Diana Mitchell; Williamston, Michigan
From The Critics
In the past year, people from my past have started coming into my present. Some are old high school classmates, people I generally avoided because I was too unsure of myself to risk being changed by them. Looking back, I realize how much I gave up without realizing it and am grateful to have another chance to connect with them. In Jerry Spinelli's beautifully crafted novel Stargirl, narrator Leo Borlock knows someone special has entered his life, and he takes the chance to get to know her. Even though the risk ends up being too great to bear, her influence changes him for the rest of his life. On the first day of school, Stargirl Caraway waltzed into the tenth grade at Mica High, and the world shifted. She behaves like no one else. From serenading classmates with a ukulele on their birthdays to doing something nice for someone each day to dancing in the rain and carrying a pet rat in her huge, flower-painted school bag, Stargirl is a being unto herself. And no one can figure her out. Whispers of "She was homeschooling gone amok," "She was sniffing fumes," and "She was an alien" fly around the halls like wind over the desert sand that surrounds the dull little high school of Mica, Arizona. Leo knows Stargirl is genuine. Like the others, he is drawn to her every move. He watches her with awe, bafflement, and a little fear. Not knowing what to do with this strange, starry being, the student body at first reveres her. Students begin to imitate her. They dance in the rain. They say hello to the formerly unnoticed person in the hallway, and they feel each other's pain if someone gets hurt. When Stargirl becomes a cheerleader and cheers for everyone and everything, so do they. Stargirl'sthirst-quenching spirit unites everyone and awakens individualism. Enjoying the wakeup, and falling in love with Stargirl, Leo believes she is a miracle. He shares his excitement with Archie Brubaker, a retired paleontologist who teaches an informal Saturday morning school at his house of bones. As the philosopher of the novel, Archie muses to Leo, "The trouble with miracles is, they don't last long." True to Archie's prediction, the most popular girl in school suddenly becomes shunned and scorned after the Mica basketball team starts losing every game. The easy, light-hearted games where Stargirl cheered for the other team, too, turn ugly as the desire to win drains the fun—and the love—from the experience. Stargirl's outflowing of caring is seen as traitorous, and she's blamed for the team's inevitable losses. From then on, Leo and Stargirl struggle in the primordial soup of teenage angst—where does their loyalty go? How can they remain true to themselves and each other? Ultimately, Leo sacrifices his relationship with Stargirl, and Stargirl leaves Mica. But her imprint remains, as real as the animals whose bones now rest in Archie's home. Fossils play a subtle but defining role in Spinelli's novel. Through Archie and his love of the earth's ancient cast of creatures, Spinelli comments on the fossilized consciousness of today's people. Archie tells Leo that Stargirl is "us more than we are us. She is, I think, who we really are. Or were." Archie believes Stargirl is closer to humanity's beginnings, and more in touch with it. Without her influence, the rest of us endanger ourselves to extinction during our own lifetime. Spinelli's tale is spare, yet resonant. More spiritual than his other award-winning books, Stargirl began as an idea 34 years ago. It is a mystical, open space he creates, filled with life and love and the beauty of nothingness. Stargirl is an enchanting character. Loosely based on Spinelli's wife, Eileen, she fully celebrates and honors each moment she lives. She loves all creatures and is wise in ways beyond her years. For all her saint-like qualities, though, Stargirl is a believable character. Her lack of ego and her very name allow the reader to believe that she is from another world, and that very possibility encourages us to bask in her blessings and emulate her goodness. It is frustrating to witness the studen body come alive and connect with Stargirl's freeness, only to try to crush her. Yet she leaves behind more than memories in Leo's mind: years after her departure from Mica, a ukulele is a part of the school marching band. A group called the Sunflowers does nice things for people each day, and a small group of basketball fans always cheer the opposing team. As an adult, Leo regrets letting go of Stargirl and wonders if he'll ever get another chance, but he does not despair. He has changed in ways that keep the best parts of her alive within him. Perhaps this is Spinelli's way of encouraging us to take a chance on ourselves and others—that people like Stargirl can help us honor our beginnings and lead us from our past into our future. Reviewer: Holly H. Coughlin — The Five Owls, November/December 2000 (Vol. 15 No. 2)
Children's Literature
In Spinelli's newest novel, Stargirl, the character matches standards he has previously set. Stargirl is the main character of the novel. And that is her real name...at least temporarily, for she is given to changing her name to match her current philosophical and personality bent. When the viewpoint character, Leo Borlock, sees her for the first time he notices her huge eyes that look like deer's eyes caught in headlights. And this is an appropriate image when Stargirl enters a public high school that is not exactly a hotbed of nonconformity. It is not just appearance that makes her so different¾Stargirl embodies the random-acts-of-kindness approach to life and can not understand the us/them divisions so crucial to high school life. Most of the school turns against Stargirl, who becomes a cheerleader and applauds both teams. This special brand of cheering first brought the team success, but when they fail, she is the obvious scapegoat. Leo, the boy who tells the story, falls in love with Stargirl despite trying to resist. He is swept into a painful conflict. Should he let himself be who he really is and love her, or continue his comfortable, conformist existence? Stargirl, who loves him back, tries to conform but the results are disastrous. Most of Spinelli's books have an underlying theme of conformity. In Stargirl the theme becomes the plot and its effects are devastating. When Stargirl is driven out of town by the cruelties of conformity, Leo is left alone and lonely. The last chapter shows him grown, living by himself, citing the changes in the high school ("Today's Electron marching band is probably the only one in Arizona with a ukulele") and living each day remembering Stargirland wondering if he will ever have another chance. Reviewer: Susie Wilde
VOYA
Stargirl is new at Mica High, and she is nothing like anyone else. She wears pioneer dresses, sings Happy Birthday to students in the lunchroom while strumming a ukulele, and carries her pet rat around school. At first everyone whispers and stares, but for Leo, the intrigue is already turning into attraction. Then suddenly Stargirl becomes the most popular person in schoolshe is different, entertainingbut her popularity does not last long. Due to a combination of events, students begin to turn against her, ignore her, and ridicule her. Because Leo is already in love, they soon spend all of their time together, disregarding the shunning they eXperience. Yet Leo is not completely oblivious to being ignored, and it finally gets to him. He convinces Stargirl to change, to dress and act like everybody else. When she does not regain her popularity, Leo feels he must make a difficult choice. At the end of the book, fifteen years later, he is still coming to terms with that year. Spinelli has created an astute and sensitive narrator who first observes and then eXperiences the perils of nonconformity. The high school eXperience is real in this bookthe lunchroom, school TV studio, football games, and speech contests. Although there probably are not too many Stargirls out there quite like this one, there are plenty who will understand what happened at Mica High and why. There are both light moments and poetic, emotionally mature observations in Stargirl. With the book's high school setting and situations, this entertaining and thoughtprovoking story will appeal to and be enjoyed by junior high and high school readers. PLB VOYA CODES: 5Q 4P J S (Hard to imagine it being any better written; Broadgeneral YA appeal; Ages 13 to 18. Reviewer: Julie Wilde
KLIATT
"Mica Area High School was not exactly a hotbed of nonconformity," an 11th-grader named Leo wryly points out: "If we happened to somehow distinguish ourselves, we quickly snapped back into place like rubber bands." So when an outrageously dressed new 10th grade student who calls herself Stargirl arrives at Mica, she creates quite a stir. Stargirl serenades people on their birthdays with her ukulele, and brings her pet rat to school in her bag. She practices random acts of kindness, and meditates out in the beautiful Sonoran desert. She's goofy, bizarre, entertaining—and endearing. Her amusing antics at a football game gain her an invitation to be a cheerleader, and her performance outshines that of the team. For a brief period, everyone wants to be like Stargirl, and everyone wants to be her friend. But when basketball season comes around and she starts to cheer the opposing team's baskets as well ("I root for everybody!," she says in all sincerity), the school turns against her—just as Leo realizes that he's in love with her. He wishes that she would conform a little, though, and for his sake she tries. When he realizes that they are both being shunned by everyone in the school anyway, he draws back and the relationship ends. Stargirl vanishes, and Leo is left with his regrets. This parable about conformity and individuality has the narrative drive as well as the clear understanding of the emotional world of teenagers that distinguish Spinelli's other popular books, like There's a Girl in My Hammerlock and the Newbery Award-winning Maniac Magee. Stargirl's free spirit and her kind heart leave behind a legacy at the school, after all, and her story may prompt readers togive some thought to tolerance and the price of popularity. KLIATT Codes: JS—Recommended for junior and senior high school students. Reviewer: Paula Rohrlick; July 2000 (Vol. 34 No. 4)
School Library Journal
Jerry Spinelli's novel, set in small-town Mica, Arizona, is a tender and poignant tale of adolescent relationships. The dynamics between the central characters, Stargirl and Leo, against the backdrop of petty, but entrenched cliques, gives a small window into the painful growth of teenagers and preteens. While the story is compelling, the writing styles don't translate easily to the audio format. Most of the text is narrative, as seen through the eyes of an older Leo, looking back nostalgically on his time spent with Stargirl. Juxtaposed among these memories are "real time" vignettes with dialogue between the assortment of characters. This interplay of time sequences with writing styles demands much of readers/listeners. There are scenes where text is preferable, such as the "Hot Seat" session where Stargirl is pantomiming behind Leo's back. Although narrator John Ritter does an admirable job, it lacks the vitality that Stargirl brings to the story, and the tenderness of Leo's memory. During the dialogues, the voices are not distinctive enough to bring the sense of urgency that is felt while reading the story; it is difficult to sense Hilary's loathing of Stargirl and all she stands for, or Leo's angst as he is torn between "fitting in" and allegiance to Stargirl. His best readings are the dialogues and descriptive passages that engage humor, especially the cheerleading episode as Stargirl spells out "Howdy." The narratives lack a musical vocal quality, and the intonations are predictable. Given that Ritter has strong ability with strictly vocal performances such as the voice for Clifford in Clifford the Big Red Dog (PBS) and other audio works, this could be a story that is better in its print format.-Tina Hudak, St. Bernard's School, Riverdale, MD Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Betsy Groban
Jerry Spinelli, an author already much acclaimed (his Maniac Magee won the Newbery Medal in 1991), has produced a poetic allegorical tale about the magnificence and rarity of true nonconformity, handsomely bound by his publisher into an unusually pretty little 186-page book.
New York Times Book Review
Kirkus Reviews
Newbery-winning Spinelli spins a magical and heartbreaking tale from the stuff of high school. Eleventh-grader Leo Borlock cannot quite believe the new student who calls herself Stargirl. Formerly home-schooled, Stargirl comes to their Arizona high school with a pet rat and a ukulele, wild clothes and amazing habits. She sings "Happy Birthday" to classmates in the lunchroom, props a small glass vase with a daisy on her desk each class, and reenergizes the cheerleading squad with her boundless enthusiasm. But Stargirl even cheers for the opposing team. She's so threatening to the regular ways of her fellows that she's shunned. No one will touch her or speak to her—or applaud her success when she wins a state speech tournament. Leo's in love with her, but finds that if he's with her, he's shunned, too. She loves him enough to try to fit in, but when that fails spectacularly, she illuminates the spring school dance like a Roman candle and disappears. The desert—old bones, flowering cactus, scented silence—is a living presence here. So is the demon of conformity, a teen monster of what's normal, a demon no less hideous because it's so well internalized in us all. Leo chooses normalcy over star stuff, but looking back as an adult he finds Stargirl's presence in a hundred different ways in his own and in his former classmates' lives. Once again Spinelli takes his readers on a journey where choices between the self and the group must be made, and he is wise enough to show how hard they are, even when sweet.
From the Publisher
“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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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780375890024
  • Publisher: Random House Children's Books
  • Publication date: 11/13/2001
  • Sold by: Random House
  • Format: eBook
  • Sales rank: 10,378
  • Age range: 12 - 17 Years
  • File size: 2 MB

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.

From the Hardcover edition.

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Read an Excerpt

When I was little, my Uncle Pete had a necktie with a porcupine painted on it.  I though that necktie was just about the neatest thing in the world.  Uncle Pete would stand patiently before me while I ran my fingers over the silky surface, half expecting to be stuck by one of the quills.  Once, he let me wear it.  I kept looking for one of my own, but I could never find one.



I was twelve when we moved from Pennsylvania to Arizona.  When Uncle Pete came to say goodbye, he was wearing the tie.  I though he did so to give me one last look at it, and I was grateful.  But then, with a dramatic flourish, he whipped off the tie and draped it around my neck.  "It's yours," he said.  "Going-away present."



I loved that porcupine tie so much that I decided to start a collection.  Two years after we settled in Arizona, the number of ties in my collection was still one.  Where do you find a porcupine necktie in Mica, Arizona - or anywhere else, for that matter?



On my fourteenth birthday, I read about myself in the local newspaper.  The family section ran a regular feature about kids on their birthdays, and my mother had called in some info.  The last sentence read: "As a hobby, Leo Borlock collects porcupine neckties."



Several days later, coming home from school, I found a plastic bag on our front step.  Inside was a gift-wrapped package tied with yellow ribbon.  The tag said, "Happy Birthday!"  I opened the package.  It was a porcupine necktie.  Two porcupines were tossing darts with their quills, while a third was picking its teeth.



I inspected the box, the tag, the paper.  Nowhere could I find the giver's name.  I asked my parents. I asked my friends.  I called my Uncle Pete.  Everyone denied knowing anything about it.



At the time I simply considered the episode a mystery.  It did not occur to me that was being watched.  We were all being watched.

"Did you see her?"
That was the first thing Kevin said to me on the first day of school, eleventh grade. We were waiting for the bell to ring.
"See who?" I said.
"Hah!" He craned his neck, scanning the mob. He had witnessed something remarkable; it showed on his face. He grinned, still scanning. "You'll know."
There were hundreds of us, milling about, calling names, pointing to summer-tanned faces we hadn't seen since June. Our interest in each other was never keener than during the fifteen minutes before the first bell of the first day.
I punched his arm. "Who?"
The bell rang. We poured inside.
I heard it again in homeroom, a whispered voice behind me as we said the Pledge of Allegiance.
"You see her?"
I heard it in the hallways. I heard it in English and Geometry:
"Did you see her?"
Who could it be? A new student? A spectacular blonde from California? Or from back East, where many of us came from? Or one of those summer makeovers, someone who leaves in June looking like a little girl and returns in September as a full-bodied woman, a ten-week miracle?
And then in Earth Sciences I heard a name: "Stargirl."
I turned to the senior slouched behind me. "Stargirl?" I said. "What kind of name is that?"
"That's it. Stargirl Caraway. She said it in homeroom."
"Stargirl?"
"Yeah."
And then I saw her. At lunch. She wore an off-white dress so long it covered her shoes. It had ruffles around the neck and cuffs and looked like it could have been her great-grandmother's wedding gown. Her hair was the color of sand. IT fell to her shoulders. Something was strapped across her back, but it wasn't a book bag. At first I thought it was a miniature guitar. I found out later it was a ukulele.
She did not carry a lunch tray. She did carry a large canvas bag with a life-size sunflower painted on it. The lunchroom was dead silent as she walked by. She stopped at an empty table, laid down her bag, slung the instrument strap over he chair, and sat down. She pulled a sandwich from the bag and started to eat.
Half the lunchroom kept staring, half starting buzzing.
Kevin was grinning. "Wha'd I tell you?"
I nodded.
"She's in tenth grade," he said. "I hear she's been homeschooled till now."
"Maybe that explains it," I said.
Her back was to us, so I couldn't see her face. No one sat with her, but at the tables next to hers kids were cramming two to a seat. She didn't seem to notice. She seemed marooned in a sea of staring buzzing faces.
Kevin was grinning again. "You thinking what I'm thinking?" he said.
I grinned back. I nodded. "Hot Seat."
Hot Seat was our in-school TV show. We had started it the year before. I was producer/director, Kevin was on-camera host. Each month he interviewed a student. So far most of them had been honor student types, athletes, model citizens. Noteworthy in the usual ways, but not especially interesting.
Suddenly Kevin's eyes boggled. The girl was picking up her ukulele. And now she was strumming it. And now she was singing! Strumming away, bobbing her head and shoulders, singing "I'm looking over a four-leaf clover that I over-looked before." Stone silence all around. Then came the sound of a single person clapping. I looked. It was the lunch-line cashier.
And now the girl was standing, slinging her bag over one shoulder and marching among the tables, strumming and singing and strutting and twirling. Head swung, eyes followed her, mouths hung open. Disbelief. When she came by our table, I got my first good look at her face. She wasn't gorgeous, wasn't ugly. A sprinkle of freckles crossed the bridge of her nose. Mostly she looked like a hundred other girls in school, except for two things. She wore no makeup, and her eyes were the biggest I had ever seen, like deer's eyes caught in headlights. She twirled as she went past, he flaring skirt brushing my pantleg, and then she marched out of the lunchroom.
From among the tables came three slow claps. Someone whistled. Someone yelped.
Kevin and I gawked at each other.
Kevin held up his hands and framed a marquee in the air. "Hot Seat! Coming Attraction - Stargirl!"
I slapped the table. "Yes!"
We slammed hands.

From the Hardcover edition.

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Introduction

Stargirl is a true celebration of nonconformity.

This oftentimes tense and emotional story explores the fleeting, cruel nature of popularity-and the thrill and inspiration of first love. The questions, discussion topics, and author information that follow are intended to guide readers and spark discussion as they begin to analyze the larger emotional, sociological, and literary elements of this exceptional and thought-provoking novel.
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Foreword

1. As the saying goes, "love is blind." How is this truly the case with Leo and Stargirl? Looking back, how can you tell that Leo was falling for her? And does he stay in love with her, even after she moves away?

2. Professor Archie Brubaker is the voice of reason throughout the novel. Archie has many thoughtful insights into the personality of Stargirl, and at one point says about her: "You'll know her more by your questions than by her answers. Keep looking at her long enough. One day you might see someone you know." Now that you've finished the novel, what do you think Archie means by this statement?

3. While Stargirl is a guest on "Hot Seat," Kevin asks her why she changed her name. Do you accept her reason why she did this? How is "Stargirl" an ideal name for her? Think about the possibility of changing your name several times. Do you think your name is an integral part of who you are, or can you imagine yourself with another one?

4. In the beginning, Hillari Kimble seems to be the only person who openly dislikes Stargirl. But then others begin to feel the same way as Hillari. Do you think that groups of people need a leader, like Hillari Kimble, to turn opinions against another person?

5. Do you, as a reader, like Stargirl? If you were a student at Mica High, would you reach out to her like Dori Dilson, or reject her like Hillari Kimble? Do you think the students of Mica High are ultimately too harsh on Stargirl?

6. Popularity, fitting in, and "sameness" are all key themes in Stargirl. Find places in the novel that reinforce these themes and discuss. Do you think Stargirl ever wanted to bepopular? How might she define popularity?

7. After Stargirl changes back to "Susan," Leo says "she looked magnificently, wonderfully, gloriously ordinary. She looked just like a hundred other girls at Mica High--I had never been so happy and proud in my whole life." How did you feel when you read this part of the novel?

8. Author Jerry Spinelli plays two major events in the novel off of each other: the basketball championships and the oratorical contest. After Stargirl wins the oratorical contest, Leo says that "the cheering is as wild as that of the crowd at a championship basketball game." Stargirl is the focus at both events but in very different ways. How is she rejected at one and accepted at the other? And how does this acceptance ultimately lead to rejection?

9. The Ocotillo Ball at the end of the novel represents a turning point. Do you think Stargirl made a deliberate attempt to say good-bye at the ball? What do you make of the students' behavior at the ball, and what does this tell you about the student body of Mica High as a whole?

10. Archie says about Stargirl, "Star people are rare. You'll be lucky to meet another." Do you think Leo was grown-up enough for his relationship with Stargirl? How about the students of Mica High? Will Leo ever figure Stargirl out?

11. What is the irony at the end of Stargirl? Is Stargirl popular after all? What happens to the "popular" kids in the story-do they stay popular?

Read More Show Less

Reading Group Guide

1. As the saying goes, "love is blind." How is this truly the case with Leo and Stargirl? Looking back, how can you tell that Leo was falling for her? And does he stay in love with her, even after she moves away?

2. Professor Archie Brubaker is the voice of reason throughout the novel. Archie has many thoughtful insights into the personality of Stargirl, and at one point says about her: "You'll know her more by your questions than by her answers. Keep looking at her long enough. One day you might see someone you know." Now that you've finished the novel, what do you think Archie means by this statement?

3. While Stargirl is a guest on "Hot Seat, " Kevin asks her why she changed her name. Do you accept her reason why she did this? How is "Stargirl" an ideal name for her? Think about the possibility of changing your name several times. Do you think your name is an integral part of who you are, or can you imagine yourself with another one?

4. In the beginning, Hillari Kimble seems to be the only person who openly dislikes Stargirl. But then others begin to feel the same way as Hillari. Do you think that groups of people need a leader, like Hillari Kimble, to turn opinions against another person?

5. Do you, as a reader, like Stargirl? If you were a student at Mica High, would you reach out to her like Dori Dilson, or reject her like Hillari Kimble? Do you think the students of Mica High are ultimately too harsh on Stargirl?

6. Popularity, fitting in, and "sameness" are all key themes in Stargirl. Find places in the novel that reinforce these themes and discuss. Do you think Stargirl ever wanted to be popular? How might she define popularity?

7. AfterStargirl changes back to "Susan, " Leo says "she looked magnificently, wonderfully, gloriously ordinary. She looked just like a hundred other girls at Mica High--I had never been so happy and proud in my whole life." How did you feel when you read this part of the novel?

8. Author Jerry Spinelli plays two major events in the novel off of each other: the basketball championships and the oratorical contest. After Stargirl wins the oratorical contest, Leo says that "the cheering is as wild as that of the crowd at a championship basketball game." Stargirl is the focus at both events but in very different ways. How is she rejected at one and accepted at the other? And how does this acceptance ultimately lead to rejection?

9. The Ocotillo Ball at the end of the novel represents a turning point. Do you think Stargirl made a deliberate attempt to say good-bye at the ball? What do you make of the students' behavior at the ball, and what does this tell you about the student body of Mica High as a whole?

10. Archie says about Stargirl, "Star people are rare. You'll be lucky to meet another." Do you think Leo was grown-up enough for his relationship with Stargirl? How about the students of Mica High? Will Leo ever figure Stargirl out?

11. What is the irony at the end of Stargirl? Is Stargirl popular after all? What happens to the "popular" kids in the story-do they stay popular?

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 1270 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(816)

4 Star

(238)

3 Star

(101)

2 Star

(46)

1 Star

(69)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 1275 Customer Reviews
  • Posted September 18, 2011

    Amazing Read!

    I love this book! Stargirl and Leo are such realistic characters. All girls seem to like the same music and dress the same way and talk the same and act the same but then you meet Stargirl who is unique and looks at things different. And doesn't care what people think about her. I think that anyone who gives this book a chance will love it from the start to finish.

    33 out of 40 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 2, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    She does not shed tears, but light...

    Books are good. I love books, actually, they're close to breathing on my scale. But out of the, say, a zillion books published each year, stamped with ink and piled accordingly in bookstores across our nation...how many are life changing? Realistic that's it's almost scary? and so emotional that you'll cry for an hour after closing the cover for the last time?
    Stargirl did all these things, and more. It is truly a once in a lifetime book. It's beautiful, it's simple yet complex, it's life changing and life altering. The first time i read it (about a year or two ago) I cried in my bed for an hour after finishing it. It's just that touching, that beautiful, that emotional. I loved it. It's a book that cries to be re-read, treasured, passed down, and most of all...applied. stargirl carries a lesson all of us FAIL to redeem...be, your, self. No matter what others think. No matter what others do, or say. No matter how people try to suufocate your most precious dreams.
    The story is simply enough. Stargirl, a homeschooler, attends a publci school in Arizonia. She is decidely different, in every way from her made up chosen name to her costumes as clothes rules. She is kind to everyone. She loves her neighbor as herself. she does deeds to strangers. She loves those who kill her. Leo meets her, falls in love...but cannot accept her. Slightly, but barely. The rest, dear reader, you'll have to find out for yourself. It's too amazing to give away even a minor spolier. I will say, that if you decide, after reading this humble review, to pick up this book, know that your life will NOT be the same after you finish it. It's a warning. This book alters your life.
    Jerry Spinelli has a gift others dare to find. He can translate life simply, beautifully, not to mention without all the usual Young Adult gunk and junk (none of that is found here, so you know) in a way that's oringinal, realistic, and most of all...touching. This book is touching. And a tearjerker. I cannot reccomend this book more. It's a classic.

    33 out of 36 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 26, 2009

    Stargirl

    "Stargirl" is a book written by one of the most talented writer.
    It starts with mysterious girl, Stargirl(Susan) transferring to Mica high-school, Arizona.
    Book Stargirl is about a girl and a boy on their high-school life
    She wears 1950's and plays a ukulele on every birthdays.
    And there is Leo, an ordinary boy who wants to be ordinary.
    Stargirl was always home schooled, she was a bright kid thinking that everyone likes her.
    After few problems(read the book) Leo becomes Stargirl's girlfriend.
    Then, Leo, told Stargirl that NOBODY likes her.
    After few days Stargirl was gone.
    One day, she changed her name Susan, and her apperance.
    After graduating Susan went.
    Susan left everything behind her, friends, memories, Leo.
    I really enjoyed this book, it was one of my favorite book.
    I strongly suggest this book, its a really good book for teenagers^^

    21 out of 33 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 3, 2012

    Odd

    It confused me big time....

    14 out of 41 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted September 25, 2011

    My favorite book

    Some mean girls and i were talking about stargirl and they said they hated it. I started cracking up laughing because,thy cant undrstand the beauty of a person. Not being afraud to show who you are!!!!! This is my favorite book. At first, i thought it would be weird for a man to write it and leo to be the main character, but it qorked perfectly well. Amazingly well written. Too bad there isn't a third one though Delaney

    14 out of 24 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 5, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Well worth reading

    Review by Jill Williamson<BR/><BR/>Leo Borlock hears the rumors first. A new girl. Previously homeschooled. Weird. Even weirder: her name is Stargirl. Then he sees her. She looks like she¿s wearing her grandma¿s wedding dress, and she carries around a ukulele and serenades anyone unlucky enough to have a birthday. <BR/><BR/>Leo¿s first goal: to get Stargirl to appear on the show Hot Seat, the in-school TV show that Leo produces and directs. But Stargirl doesn¿t react like a normal student either. She doesn¿t seem bothered by people who make fun of her, she cheers for both football teams¿even when the home team is losing¿and she wraps the school body around her finger. At first.<BR/><BR/>But then things start to go bad. People start to ignore her, shun her, and treat her horribly. Leo¿s TV show goes so badly he can¿t possibly air it, because he¿s fallen in love with Stargirl. The only solution Leo can come up with is for Stargirl to be like everyone else. Be normal. But that could be the worst advice of all.<BR/><BR/>What a surprisingly fun story. I loved Stargirl¿s confidence and love for everyone. She is a strong person who challenges other students to be who they want to be and not necessarily go with the flow all the time. Sometimes high school can feel like a prison. Students can feel like they have to act a certain way or face ridicule. Life isn¿t meant to be lived that way, and Stargirl knows that. She does get hurt by it eventually, for let¿s face it, no one can be more ruthless that a bunch of high schoolers set on bringing someone down. But Stargirl bounces back, I think, because she likes who she is and she realizes that restraint is not a bad thing. She can still be her loving self but not force it on others. Stargirl is not a Christian, and may practice New Age or some other meditative religion, so take that into consideration. But the moral of the story is fabulous and well worth reading.

    12 out of 19 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 19, 2009

    stargirl

    Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli is a fictional novel. This novel was very good. It was exciting but also sad at times. The main character was very amusing. She always did something crazy. This took place in Mica, Arizona during modern time. Stargirl Caraway was the star of Mica High School. Then, the tables turned and everyone hated her. They ignored her and they didn't even look at her, even when she was doing something exciting.
    Stargirl kept on playing the ukulele to people on their birthday. Also, she kept on wearing weird and bold clothes no matter what people said to her. She also kept on cheering for the other team when the other team scored even when her teammates yelled at her and told her to sit down. The author uses a lot of funny words. That makes the story funnier and even easier to read. It makes you want to keep on reading to see what else happens in his novel.
    People who like comedy should read this novel because it is funny. Also, people who like drama and romance because there is romance between the two main characters in this novel.

    10 out of 17 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 27, 2008

    Great Great Great Great Great Great Great Great Great Great

    What a greaaaat book!!!!! It took me one day to finish this book it was sooo good. Everyone should read this book. After you read this you need to read Love Stargirl.

    8 out of 10 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 27, 2002

    Awesome Book!!

    I am currently reading this book and I can not put it down for a second. It is sweet, humorous, sad, and enjoyable rolled into one. Adults and kids should read this book. It is a very heart-warming story and will make you cry. I know I do when I read it. Thanks Jerry Spinelli!! You are a wonderful writer!! You are my influence on my book!!

    8 out of 12 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 14, 2012

    Addsfgxfv

    Is this book good for a 11 year old girl like me?

    7 out of 13 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted April 26, 2012

    I picked this up when i was about 14. (im 25 now) I have to say

    I picked this up when i was about 14. (im 25 now) I have to say it is one of the more memorable books ive read. I still am holding on to my copy of this book.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 29, 2012

    no

    hated it never again

    4 out of 15 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 2, 2009

    Inspirational-should be a movie (not sure why)

    I first picked up Stargirl about 2 years ago when I was in 7th Grade. I give this book credit for getting me through the tough, conformist, dramatic Junior High years. The ending always makes me cry, every time I read it, but the story is a lesson everyone can learn from. All of the people who don't like it because "It's weird" or "she's a freak" have more to learn than others. Stargirl, an extraordinary character with childlike innoncence and the most beautiful heart, teaches us to live and love every moment of life. (sounds cheesy, but you'll get what I mean when you read it)

    4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 20, 2009

    I love stargirl PLease read this confusing in the begining but gets soooo much better

    Very weird in the beginning it was hard to understand but once i got the rythem of the chapters i fell in love. It tells us that maybe daring to be different from our peers isn`t all that bad that falling for someone that isn`t just like you may just be the best way to go. I fell in love with stargirl and every weird thing about her it is and will forever bea unforgettable read

    Allie t.

    4 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 4, 2012

    Best

    This book is one of my favorites because it is about being yourself

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 16, 2012

    Supriya

    The best book ever. You should get it.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 22, 2012

    BEST BOOK I'VE EVER READ!!!!!!!!!!!

    This book blew me away. The idea of Stargirl and all that she stands for is what every author should try to achieve. This book was written so beautifully that it sometimes left me breathless, wondering how a human could possibly weave a tale so masterful and enchanting with merely words. I've read thousands of books so far, and without a doubt, this is the best one I've ever read. It deserves thousands more stars than just 5. Stargirl taught me so much, and I can only hope that she can inspire others to do what she embraced, being herself in a world where you are shunned if you don't blend in with the crowd. Jerry Spinelli's writing was out of this world, his book Stargirl deserves countless honors!!!

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 26, 2012

    WORST BOOK EVER!!!!!!!!!!

    This book was rlly bad and freakixng weiird

    3 out of 18 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 21, 2014

    Sam tolman

    It is AWESOME

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted June 3, 2013

    Newcomer Stargirl captures the heart of a boy in school amidst h

    Newcomer Stargirl captures the heart of a boy in school amidst her eccentricity. Though Stargirl was able to capture the boy’s heart, her eccentric ways didn’t win the hearts of others. The boy then is caught between his love for Stargirl and his normal relationship with the rest.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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