by Jerry Spinelli

Paperback(First Harper Trophy Edition)

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780060540746
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 05/01/2018
Edition description: First Harper Trophy Edition
Pages: 240
Sales rank: 17,024
Product dimensions: 0.00(w) x 0.00(h) x (d)
Age Range: 8 - 12 Years

About the Author

Jerry Spinelli received the Newbery Medal for Maniac Magee and a Newbery Honor for Wringer. His other books include Stargirl; Love, Stargirl; Smiles to Go; Loser; Jake and Lily; Hokey Pokey; and The Warden’s Daughter. His novels are recognized for their humor and poignancy, and his characters and situations are often drawn from his real-life experience as a father of six children. Jerry lives with his wife, Eileen, also a writer, in Wayne, Pennsylvania.

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

You Grow Up

You grow up with a kid but you never really notice him. He's just there -- on the street, the playground, the neighborhood. He's part of the scenery, like the parked cars and the green plastic cans on trash day.

You pass through school -- first grade, second grade -- there he is, going along with you. You're not friends, you're not enemies. You just cross paths now and then. Maybe at the park playground one day you look up and there he is on the other end of the seesaw. Or it's winter and you sled to the bottom of Halftank Hill, and you're trudging back up and there he goes zipping down, his arms out like a swan diver, screaming his head off. And maybe it annoys you that he seems to be having even more fun than you, but it's a one-second thought and it's over.

You don't even know his name.

And then one day you do. You hear someone say a name, and somehow you just know that's who the name belongs to, it's that kid.


Loser. Copyright © by Jerry Spinelli. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

Reading Group Guide


Loser is a tender story about Donald Zinkoff, a young character who demonstrates great self-acceptance and who is not afraid to fail. With the encouragement of his family, he learns to approach life with a positive spirit and to enjoy all that it has to offer. Donald faces the familiar challenges of elementary-aged children—disagreeable teachers, peer pressure, social conformity, and competition. By maintaining a strong sense of self through his experiences, Donald Zinkoff teaches us all about important and unforgettable lessons of self esteem and happiness.

Questions For Discussion:

  1. Donald Zinkoff's mother gives him a silver star after his first day of elementary school and says "One thousand congratulations to you." Why? What are some other examples of how Donald's family demonstrates their love to him? Give examples of how their support helps Donald to develop his self-esteem.
  2. Donald admires his teacher Miss Meeks because she calls her students "young citizens" and gives a famous opening day speech to her first grade class. Reread her speech on pages 13–17. What are Miss Meeks's attitudes about school and learning? How does Donald make his own learning adventurous, both at school and at home?
  3. Why do you think "Take Your Kid To Work Day" was such a meaningful day for Donald? How does Mr. Zinkoff prepare to make the day special for Donald? What are the most important things that Donald learns about his father's work when they spend the day together?
  4. Donald experiences being a winner when every player on his Titans soccer team receives a trophy. While he isvery pleased with the trophy, he decides to give it to his friend Andrew. How do you think Donald feels after giving his trophy away? What is special about Donald's behavior as a winner, and how does it challenge the idea that winning is best?
  5. In school, Donald's classmates notice and comment upon his unique behavior and brand him a "loser." How does Donald respond when he is teased? Our experiences are affected by the meaning we give to them. Think about an example in your own life when you refused to accept a negative comment from another. (If you cannot think of an example, try it out sometime!)
  6. In the fifth grade, Donald's classmates discourage him from participating in Field Day. How does spending the day with the old woman on Willow Street help him to feel better about this rejection? Name other examples from LOSER where Donald distracts himself from a negative situation. Do you think this behavior makes him more or less happy? Why?
  7. In the final scene Donald wants to play ball with a group of his classmates, and is the last kid to be chosen for a team. On page 217, his classmate Bonce thinks "… [this kid] doesn't know that…he's only going to be ignored. Or embarrassed. Or hurt. He doesn't know that he's a klutz. Doesn't know he's out of his league. Doesn't know a leftover, doesn't stare down a chooser. Doesn't know he's supposed to look down at his shoes or up at the sky and wish he could disappear, because that's what he is, a leftover, the last kid left." Why do you think Bonce eventually invites Zinkoff to play on his team?

About The Author:

Jerry Spinelli is the author of Maniac Magee, winner of the 1991 Newbery Medal, and Wringer, named a Newbery Honor Book in 1998. He went to Gettysburg College and Johns Hopkins University. He and his wife, Eileen, also a writer of children's books, have seven children. Jerry Spinelli's books are funny and true to life. Whenever students ask him where he gets his ideas, he replies, "From you. You're the funny ones." Spinelli enjoys writing about the adventure in the typical experiences of children and young people.

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Loser 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 316 reviews.
EsJay_Da_Aussum More than 1 year ago
Book Review By SeungJin Han Recently, I finished a book called Loser, by Jerry Spinelli. It had an interesting plot that was simple yet enjoyable. The writer used different elements to pull off this lively book. The story is just basically about the life of Donald Zinkoff, a loser who lives in a small suburban city. It tells about what happens at his school and what he does at home. So there are several exciting events, such as him delivering the mail with his dad, messing up field day, befriending Hector Binns for a while, and receiving his first but last A. However, near the last half of the book, there is one more emphasized event. A girl named Claudia goes missing during the night of a very snowy day, and Zinkoff sets out to find her. Loser had great characters, an amazing plot, and an excellent setting. The reader will surely enjoy Zinkoff unknowingly growing, changing, and developing into a normal kid who can fit in. This book will give out several giggles and laughs.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is so funny but when donald zinkoff grows up it gets more interesting. I totally recomend it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is an amazing book. Anyone who doesnt like this book either didnt understand it or just never read it and are listining to people who didnt understand it. Anyway the point is that this is one of the greatest books i ever read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I'm a 6th grade student from Glendale, Arizona. I read Loser by Jerry Spinelli as one of my five books that I had to read for the second quarter. It was a really good book. When I would have to stop reading it, I just couldn't put it down. It really grabbed my attention. Loser is definitely one of my favorite books. It's about a boy named Donald Zinkoff. He's outgoing, brave, and is also really funny. The book didn't say when it took place, but it probably took place in the present. When the book starts, he's starting first grade. By the end of the book, Donald is in middle school. During these years, Donald has many adventures. A part that I really liked reading was when it was Take Your Kid to Work Day. Donald got to help deliver mail with his dad because his dad is a mailman. His dad didn't want him delivering real mail, though, so Donald wrote letters to all the people in his neighborhood and delivered those instead. One woman that he delivered mail to would always call him "Mailman" every time she would see him. Another part that I liked was Donald's first day of school. He had a really tall hat that looked like a giraffe that he got from the zoo. He wore it on his first day of school. Some older kids were bullying him and took his hat. They were rubbing it in the dirt, but Donald just laughed along with the boys. They finally gave up on trying to pick on him. I like the way Donald reacted because it showed that he's brave when it comes to bullies. I can connect this book to my own life because I'm a kid like Donald. I have to face bullies and stand up for myself just like Donald did in the book. I can connect this book to the world because there are a lot of scary things in the world and people can stand up for themselves, but still be kind, just like Donald. Loser, by Jerry Spinelli is a great book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I couldnt put it down after i started reading loser its just that great and funny of a book!!
Johnny_Boy_Ruler More than 1 year ago
Have you ever seen or heard about a loser that loves school? A boy named Donald Zinkoff's love about the school is more than red, hot, flames of fire even though he is a loser. This story takes place in a elementary school which Donald goes to. The sidewalks are ruled by the 4th and 5th grade. This book is just about Donald's life through 1rst to 6th grade in the elementary school. The big problem is that Donald loves school too much even though he gets all teased and bullied by the older kids or his classmates. Donald still gets to get friends but always gets in trouble. He's just a guy that never wins. You may think Donald will just stay as a loser through graduation day, middle school, and high school. The answer is no. He changes from a Loser to a Winner on the very last day. You might want to know how Donald changes to a winner from a Loser. If you want to know, check this book out. I don't highly recommend this book to you because it's just a story about a Loser's life through 1rst to 6th grade. Though Donald faces many situations and changes to a Winner (hero) from a Loser. If u want to know how he changes then check this book out!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Best book ever! :^)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Recremended for all ages!!!!!!:)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great book! Luv it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I read this for a book report and i loved it. Recommended for ages 9-13
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a really great book:)
hoodreader More than 1 year ago
Loser is a book about a young, awkward "loser" named Donald Zinkoff. It tells of his adventures from first through sixth grade. It's everything the average kid faces, such as snow days, the curious mystery of the cellar monster, and silly words like "jabip", but Zinkoff has his own quirky differences- like, an upside down stomach valve, a three foot tall giraffe hat, and the urge to yell, "YAHOO!". I would definitely say the reading level of this book is between fourth and sixth grade, but Zinkoff is a character anyone can love. He's goofy, yet lovable, and I can guarantee he will make you smile. It teaches the important lessons of growing up, in a fun, cute story. Kudos to Jerry Spinelli, because this is definitely his best.
Guest More than 1 year ago
i loved reading loser it was so exciting but at the end J.S (the auther) had to leave us hanging. it was sad because zinkoff didn't know every on e was calling him a loser.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
SO AWESOME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!:D
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a sweet and funny book that people of all ages will love it. I give it FIVE stars . . O
121999AM More than 1 year ago
For my literature class, everyone had to read a Jerry Spinelli book. I choose this one because I wanted to see whats would happen to Zinkoff. Here's a sneak peek of what happens to Zinkoff. Zinkoff in multiple different chapters is moving up from grades.... In chapter 1 it's the first day of Kindergarten and Zinkoff is wearing his new hat he got from the zoo. Which is a giraffe hat, but someone steals it and says to the teacher that Zinkoff stole my hat. This is all I am going to tell you becasue it will give the whole thing away. Everyone can connect with this book! Jerry Spinelli writes in Pennsylvania and he also includes in one of his stories a middle school called Lionville Middle School. I would highly recommend this book at any age!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Awesome book
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is the best it was in my school library and i took it and read the whole thing so i saw it in the nook library and read it its a wonderful book
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed this cute little novel
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Some parts are sad and some parts are boring, but overall a good book.
PATRICIA HANNAN More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is really good and the life that this kid goes through is not what you will expect from a regular kid. Knowing that he is different and the way he puts his self and the way the other characters react, it will have you laughing.
Sira Rampersad More than 1 year ago
I think this is a good book for kids in Elemantry school who is having trouble fitting in,so that's why I give this book 5 stars.
David Martin More than 1 year ago
I love this book it is about a little boy named zinkoff and his years of life through kindergarten to six grade and he is a remarkiable kid energized and ready to learn
JJ Mahoney More than 1 year ago
Great auther