Jerry Spinelli

Born on February 1, 1941

Meet Jerry Spinelli


His Biography:

“Spinelli was born on February 1, 1941, in Norristown, Pennsylvania. He is known for such works as Maniac Magee (1990), Wringer (1997) and Stargirl (2000). As a child, his big ambition was to become a cowboy. He even turned up to school one day in his full western regalia. On his website, Spinelli wrote, “in second grade I dressed up in my cowboy outfit, complete with golden cap pistols and spurs on my boots.” He even “got up and sang ‘I Have Spurs that Jingle Jangle Jingle.’”


Spinelli then dreamed of being a baseball player. He was involved in the sport during his junior high and high school years, but he soon switched gears. In an interview on, Spinelli said he had his first work published in high school. He wrote a poem about his high school football winning “a heart-stopping game against one of the best teams in the country.” The poem appeared in the local newspaper, and “suddenly I had something new to become: a writer.”

Early Career

After high school, Spinelli attended Gettysburg College. There he majored in English and served as the editor of the school’s literary magazine. Spinelli also attended writing seminars at Johns Hopkins University. He then landed a job as an editor for a magazine, and he used his lunch hours to craft his fiction. It was also at the office that he met his wife Eileen, and the couple eventually married and had six children together.


At first, Spinelli focused on writing for adults. He had four unpublished novels under his belt before he had his first big break. Spinelli decided to write from a child’s point of view for his next book instead of an adult. With the help of his wife, he landed an agent to represent him and went on to publish his debut children’s book, Space Station Seventh Grade, in 1982. He followed up that novel with Who Put That Hair in My Toothbrush? (1984), which drew inspiration from two of his own children who had a contentious relationship.—from


His books:

Dead Wednesday

Books by Jerry Spinelli: