Thursday, December 8, 2011




Summary: Stargirl is the story of Leo and his high school experience which is permanently altered when a previously home-schooled girl decides to attend Mica High. Leo is an average high school student whose interests lie in film and production. Then one day, a new girl begins to attend school. She is different than anyone else, and Leo is intrigued. However, he is also afraid of her: not conforming in high school can mean social suicide and Leo is not prepared to do that despite the fact that he can’t stop thinking about Stargirl. Stargirl wears random clothes, brings her pet rat to school and sings accompanied by her ukulele in the lunchroom. When Stargirl becomes an eccentric cheerleader, she is suddenly accepted and emulated by her peers. Then Stargirl does something unforgivable in the eyes of the student body and is completely ostracized. Leo convinces her to give up her originality in an attempt to fit in; this fails spectacularly and Stargirl realizes Leo is not ready to be with her. She eventually disappears but haunts Leo for the rest of his life.


Spinelli, J. (2000). Stargirl. New York, NY: Knopf Books for Young Readers.

Impression: This book seems to be a teen staple; about fitting in and being yourself. I felt that it was interesting and the moral of being who you are was very clear. I didn’t like that no adults seemed to be aware of Stargirl’s situation, even her parents. Also, Leo never seems to be a very dynamic character. Suddenly, he likes Stargirl after essentially stalking her for weeks. When she leaves he is so affected by this singular high school experience that it follows him for the rest of his life. I didn’t quite believe the love story or the fact that Stargirl brings her rat and ukulele to school. While the details were unbelievable for me, I think that many teens read this book and put themselves in either Stargirl or Leo’s shoes.


Grover, S. (2000, August). [Book review of Stargirl, J. Spinelli]. School Library Journal.

Available from  School Library Journal website:

High school is a time of great conformity, when being just like everybody else is of paramount importance. So it is no surprise that Stargirl Caraway causes such excitement and confusion when she arrives at Mica High in Arizona. Initially, everyone is charmed by her unconventional behavior- she wears unusual clothing, she serenades the lunchroom with her ukulele, she practices random acts of kindness, she is cheerleader extraordinaire in a place with no school spirit. Naturally, this cannot last and eventually her individuality is reviled. The story is told by Leo, who falls in love with Stargirl's zany originality, but who then finds himself unable to let go of the need to be conventional. Spinelli's use of a narrator allows readers the distance necessary to appreciate Stargirl's eccentricity and Leo's need to belong to the group, without removing them from the immediacy of the story. That makes the ending all the more disappointing-to discover that Leo is looking back imposes an unnecessary adult perspective on what happened in high school. The prose lapses into occasionally unfortunate flowery flights, but this will not bother those readers-girls especially-who will understand how it feels to not quite fit the mold and who attempt to exult in their differences.

Uses: I think that this book, as it is especially relevant to teens, could be used in a booktalk promoting individuality. The book also lends itself well to being made into a book trailer. A program could be designed for a book club to read the book and then learn how to use various software programs and create a book trailer. The emphasis could be on originality and then compare how different all of the book trailers are despite using the same book.

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