Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Stargirl

Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli

"She was elusive. She was today. She was tomorrow. She was the faintest scent of a cactus flower, the flitting shadow of an elf owl. We did not know what to make of her. In our minds we tried to pin her to corkboard like a butterfly, but the pin merely went through and away she flew."

Sigh. This quick-read is about an eccentric new student in an otherwise typical high school in Arizona. Stargirl carries a rat with her wherever she goes, sings "Happy Birthday" to kids at lunch while strumming her ukulele, decorates her desk with a table cloth and a flower in a vase, and performs random acts of kindness for people, whether she knows them or not. Here are my favorite parts of the book:

-Stargirl scours the newspapers for the fillers: hospital admissions, lost pets and death notices, and she sends strangers homemade cards to cheer them up.

-"Throughout the day, Stargirl had been dropping money. She was the Johnny Appleseed of loose change: a penny here, a nickel there. Tossed to the sidewalk, laid on a shelf or bench. Even quarters. . .
'Do you realize how much you must throw away in a year?' I said.
'Did you ever see a little kid's face when he spots a penny on a sidewalk?' she said."

-If Stargirl were the editor of the newspaper, "crime would be on page 10, ants and old men and painted doors on page 1."

-Stargirl's original name was Susan. But she changes it whenever it doesn't fit anymore. "I'm not my name," she says. "My name is something I wear, like a shirt. It gets worn, I outgrow it, I change it." (She had gone by Pocket Mouse, Mudpie, and Hullygully before Stargirl).

If you haven't already, you should get this book. (And don't be fooled by the title, guys, the protagonist is actually a boy named Leo.)

P.S. There's also a newish sequel out called Love, Stargirl.

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