Loser by Jerry Spinelli

September 23, 2008
Loser, by Jerry Spinelli, is one of my favorite fiction novels. The main plot of the story is that Donald Zinkoff has horrible handwriting, is clumsy, and is a loser to everyone else. But Zinkoff sees himself as a winner with glorious hand writing. I think this book should have been a Newberry Medal winner because of the moral it teaches: never give up. Zinkoff explodes with laughter with just a word like “jabip.” Donald rarely becomes angry because he laughs at anything that's funny, including himself at times.
The book is entirely third person with the narrator speaking. An interesting thing about Zinkoff is that he's terrible at schoolwork, but he adores school. Here's an example of Zinkoff's interesting ordeal:

One day he awakens before anyone else in the house. He gets himself dressed. He makes his own breakfast. He brushes his teeth and walks off to school. I must be early, he thinks, for he sees no crossing guards or other children along the way.
He is sitting on the front step waiting for the door to open when he hears Clunker Four. It stops in front of the school and out pop both his mother and father. Both come running.
“Donald, we've been looking all over! You weren't in your bed!”
“I came to school all by myself,” he declares proudly.
His parents look at each other. His mother bites her lip. His father picks him up and says, “You're very big to do that all by yourself. The only problem is, there's no school today. It's Saturday.”
When Miss Meeks passes Zinkoff on to second grade, she writes on the back of his final report card: “Donald sometimes has a problem with self-control, and I wish he were neater, but he is so good natured. That son of yours is one happy child! And he certainly does love school!”(pp.32-33)

I believe this insert is a blending of attentiveness, energy, and just plain humor. It is amazing that out of all of Spinelli's books, including Loser, that Maniac Magee is his only awarded book. Not many people even know that Loser exists.
Since this book is written in third person, Zinkoff's ideas aren't expressed very much. However, third person gives you a full overview of the characters, such as “big shot” Gary Hobin and the playful Claudia.
With everything into consideration, I give this book a lucky 7. The main plot is a problem that a lot of other kids have. I think this book would be more enjoyable if the plot was more adventurous. To me, the plot of this book is no real plot, it's actually a self issue Zinkoff has.
Also, Zinkoff has no personal interests from what the book tells us. The only thing
Zinkoff dislikes is waiting. And Zinkoff rarely surveys his surroundings. His character and personality isn't explained by the book.
The book Loser's theme would have to be to “never give up and to keep going forward.” Zinkoff realizes that anyone can go from “loser” to “winner.” In the final chapters, Donald keeps going on to rescue a lost child. In the conclusion, Zinkoff is finally accepted by the other children.
I can't wait for Jerry Spinelli's next installment, and I hope Zinkoff is included.

Join the Discussion

This article has 23 comments. Post your own now!

Awesome rainbow girl said...
Jul. 15, 2016 at 3:22 pm
Awesome rainbow girl said...
Jul. 15, 2016 at 3:19 pm
I love this book I'm going to 6th grade and this was our assignment it's a great book
jerimiah said...
Oct. 21, 2015 at 7:44 pm
Really good job!!☺☺
chrisd4862 said...
Jan. 9, 2014 at 6:19 pm
what is summary and the  main theme  
katyperry1234 said...
Oct. 15, 2012 at 4:08 pm
wat is the rising and falling action in the book
Loveisbad said...
Jan. 31, 2012 at 7:08 pm
WTH I need to know what chapter or what name the chapters are for a school party and if I don't do a project I don't get to come
mytimetoshinelol said...
Jan. 22, 2012 at 7:00 pm
What was the time period of the book? and what object do you recommend to use to represent the time period...?
alexis.pretty11 said...
Dec. 13, 2011 at 6:29 pm
what is the theme of this book?
LOVEE said...
Nov. 4, 2011 at 4:42 pm
WTF is the climax!!!????
????? replied...
Sept. 16, 2013 at 4:19 pm
u should watch ur language and the climax was that they called him  loser and more but u should really read the book its fantasic
Thaat Girrl Danielle said...
Oct. 14, 2011 at 1:29 pm
its a good book :)
Loveisbadbad replied...
Jan. 31, 2012 at 7:12 pm
Yeah it was ok pretty good but not the best if anyone knows what the names of the chapters are can you please list them in order that would really help I posted a comment a little above yours thanks a lot
Dantelover said...
Jun. 23, 2011 at 3:22 pm
I read this book and I thought it had horrible grammar. not trying to be smart or anything but it just had too many details that were not important at all. At some points, it didn't make sense because the subject changed so soon. Anyways, this article was pretty good. GOOD JOB!:P
Loveisbad replied...
Jan. 31, 2012 at 7:14 pm
Can you read my comment above thanks
bongtoker420 said...
May 11, 2011 at 8:23 am
Hey Man this book wasn't that bad but I did not really like it compared to most books But It Is Still A Pretty Good Book.
Medina D. said...
Oct. 11, 2010 at 4:20 pm
i read Loser. It was interesting, I'll tell u that
shy-guy15 said...
Aug. 26, 2010 at 11:45 pm
lets see how happy he is to be in school in Junior High and High School
roknroll said...
Jun. 4, 2010 at 12:02 pm

This book was witty, i'd recomend it to anyone


bokworm said...
May 12, 2010 at 7:52 pm
i didnt get this the first time i read it thanks for clearing it up
rocket1234 replied...
Mar. 23, 2011 at 6:07 am
i hated this book it didnt make sence at the beging
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