When he heads off for the first day of school, Donald Zinkoff is determined to wear his Dr. Seuss Hat - you know, the big one with stripes that the Cat wears? His concerned mother tries to talk it off of him, but to no avail. So it is with Donald. He just doesn't seem to get it, and year after year he just seems to be a loser. He is that kid in class who can't do anything right. So how does Donald feel? Can he change his "label?" Does he see himself as others see him? Do you?

As the story progresses through Donald's years of elementary we watch with growing tension as Donald seems oblivious to what we can clearly see is his painful destiny. But do we have to judge him through these eyes? Then comes the moment when Donald follows his inner voice and performs a heroic act. Now are the kids at the elementary school ready to see his true worth or will they continue to judge him because he does not conform?

224 pages 978-0060540746 Ages 8-12

Zinkoff is a nice kid. He genuinely enjoys life and likes everyone he meets. Sure he has problems: bad grades, atrocious handwriting and total uncoordination. The thing about Zinkoff is that he doesn't realize those are problems. Until Field Day in the 4th grade, his fellow students don't really notice Zinkoff's problems either. Then it seems everyone has a new name for Zinkoff, everyone seems to realize that he is a loser. Everyone but Zinkoff that is.

What a sweet book. I'll tell you right now, I teared up at the end. Awww..... Zinkoff is a doll. Spinelli gets is right when he says that nobody (students) really noticed Zinkoff before the 4th grade. He was just always there, being Zinkoff. But then they notice that Zinkoff is different than the "cool" kids. So they do what comes naturally: people start teasing him. However, Zinkoff doesn't realize he is being teased. That is the part I'm not so sure about. I've met kids like Zinkoff before and let me just tell you: they knew they were being teased. Kids do know the difference between good-natured teasing and downright meaness.

I'd love to get this book into the hands of some of my "cool" kids. Maybe it would help them see that the kid being made fun of doesn't deserve it. This book is great for character discussions.

Recommended by Stephanie Lott, Librarian, Texas

Visit her blog at: http://lifeisbetterwithcookies.blogspot.com/


From renowned Newbery-winning author Jerry Spinelli comes a powerful story about how not fitting in just might lead to an incredible life. This classic book is perfect for fans of Gordon Korman and Carl Hiaasen. This middle grade novel is an excellent choice for tween readers in grades 5 to 6, especially during homeschooling. It’s a fun way to keep your child entertained and engaged while not in the classroom.

Just like other kids, Zinkoff rides his bike, hopes for snow days, and wants to be like his dad when he grows up. But Zinkoff also raises his hand with all the wrong answers, trips over his own feet, and falls down with laughter over a word like "Jabip."

Other kids have their own word to describe him, but Zinkoff is too busy to hear it. He doesn't know he's not like everyone else. And one winter night, Zinkoff's differences show that any name can someday become "hero."

With some of his finest writing to date and great wit and humor, Jerry Spinelli creates a story about a boy's individuality surpassing the need to fit in and the genuine importance of failure. As readers follow Zinkoff from first through sixth grade, it becomes impossible not to identify with and root for him through failures and triumphs.

The perfect classroom read.---from the publisher

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