by Jerry Spinelli


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A modern-day classic and New York Times bestseller that celebrates the power of individuality and personal expression from beloved Newbery Medalist Jerry Spinelli.

Stargirl. From the day she arrives at quiet Mica High in a burst of color and sound, the hallways hum with the murmur of “Stargirl, Stargirl.” She captures Leo Borlock’ s heart with just one smile. She sparks a school-spirit revolution with just one cheer. The students of Mica High are enchanted. At first.

Then they turn on her. Stargirl is suddenly shunned for everything that makes her different, and Leo, panicked and desperate with love, urges her to become the very thing that can destroy her: normal. In this celebration of nonconformity, Newbery Medalist Jerry Spinelli weaves a tense, emotional tale about the perils of popularity and the thrill and inspiration of first love.

Don’t miss the sequel, Love, Stargirl, and Jerry Spinelli’s latest novel, The Warden’s Daughter, about another girl who can't help but stand out.
“Spinelli is a poet of the prepubescent. . . . No writer guides his young characters, and his readers, past these pitfalls and challenges and toward their futures with more compassion.” —The New York Times

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780679886372
Publisher: Random House Children's Books
Publication date: 08/01/2000
Series: Stargirl Series
Pages: 192
Sales rank: 262,337
Product dimensions: 5.81(w) x 8.63(h) x 0.81(d)
Lexile: 590L (what's this?)
Age Range: 12 - 17 Years

About the Author

JERRY SPINELLI is the author of many novels for young readers, including The Warden's Daughter; Stargirl; Love, Stargirl; Milkweed; Crash; Wringer; and Maniac Magee, winner of the Newbery Medal; along with Knots in My Yo-Yo String, the autobiography of his childhood. A graduate of Gettysburg College, he lives in Pennsylvania with his wife, poet and author Eileen Spinelli.

Read an Excerpt

When I was little, my Uncle Pete had a necktie with a porcupine painted on it.  I though that necktie was just about the neatest thing in the world.  Uncle Pete would stand patiently before me while I ran my fingers over the silky surface, half expecting to be stuck by one of the quills.  Once, he let me wear it.  I kept looking for one of my own, but I could never find one.

I was twelve when we moved from Pennsylvania to Arizona.  When Uncle Pete came to say goodbye, he was wearing the tie.  I though he did so to give me one last look at it, and I was grateful.  But then, with a dramatic flourish, he whipped off the tie and draped it around my neck.  "It's yours," he said.  "Going-away present."

I loved that porcupine tie so much that I decided to start a collection.  Two years after we settled in Arizona, the number of ties in my collection was still one.  Where do you find a porcupine necktie in Mica, Arizona - or anywhere else, for that matter?

On my fourteenth birthday, I read about myself in the local newspaper.  The family section ran a regular feature about kids on their birthdays, and my mother had called in some info.  The last sentence read: "As a hobby, Leo Borlock collects porcupine neckties."

Several days later, coming home from school, I found a plastic bag on our front step.  Inside was a gift-wrapped package tied with yellow ribbon.  The tag said, "Happy Birthday!"  I opened the package.  It was a porcupine necktie.  Two porcupines were tossing darts with their quills, while a third was picking its teeth.

I inspected the box, the tag, the paper.  Nowhere could I find the giver's name.  I asked my parents. I asked my friends.  I called my Uncle Pete.  Everyone denied knowing anything about it.

At the time I simply considered the episode a mystery.  It did not occur to me that was being watched.  We were all being watched.

"Did you see her?"
That was the first thing Kevin said to me on the first day of school, eleventh grade. We were waiting for the bell to ring.
"See who?" I said.
"Hah!" He craned his neck, scanning the mob. He had witnessed something remarkable; it showed on his face. He grinned, still scanning. "You'll know."
There were hundreds of us, milling about, calling names, pointing to summer-tanned faces we hadn't seen since June. Our interest in each other was never keener than during the fifteen minutes before the first bell of the first day.
I punched his arm. "Who?"
The bell rang. We poured inside.
I heard it again in homeroom, a whispered voice behind me as we said the Pledge of Allegiance.
"You see her?"
I heard it in the hallways. I heard it in English and Geometry:
"Did you see her?"
Who could it be? A new student? A spectacular blonde from California? Or from back East, where many of us came from? Or one of those summer makeovers, someone who leaves in June looking like a little girl and returns in September as a full-bodied woman, a ten-week miracle?
And then in Earth Sciences I heard a name: "Stargirl."
I turned to the senior slouched behind me. "Stargirl?" I said. "What kind of name is that?"
"That's it. Stargirl Caraway. She said it in homeroom."
And then I saw her. At lunch. She wore an off-white dress so long it covered her shoes. It had ruffles around the neck and cuffs and looked like it could have been her great-grandmother's wedding gown. Her hair was the color of sand. IT fell to her shoulders. Something was strapped across her back, but it wasn't a book bag. At first I thought it was a miniature guitar. I found out later it was a ukulele.
She did not carry a lunch tray. She did carry a large canvas bag with a life-size sunflower painted on it. The lunchroom was dead silent as she walked by. She stopped at an empty table, laid down her bag, slung the instrument strap over he chair, and sat down. She pulled a sandwich from the bag and started to eat.
Half the lunchroom kept staring, half starting buzzing.
Kevin was grinning. "Wha'd I tell you?"
I nodded.
"She's in tenth grade," he said. "I hear she's been homeschooled till now."
"Maybe that explains it," I said.
Her back was to us, so I couldn't see her face. No one sat with her, but at the tables next to hers kids were cramming two to a seat. She didn't seem to notice. She seemed marooned in a sea of staring buzzing faces.
Kevin was grinning again. "You thinking what I'm thinking?" he said.
I grinned back. I nodded. "Hot Seat."
Hot Seat was our in-school TV show. We had started it the year before. I was producer/director, Kevin was on-camera host. Each month he interviewed a student. So far most of them had been honor student types, athletes, model citizens. Noteworthy in the usual ways, but not especially interesting.
Suddenly Kevin's eyes boggled. The girl was picking up her ukulele. And now she was strumming it. And now she was singing! Strumming away, bobbing her head and shoulders, singing "I'm looking over a four-leaf clover that I over-looked before." Stone silence all around. Then came the sound of a single person clapping. I looked. It was the lunch-line cashier.
And now the girl was standing, slinging her bag over one shoulder and marching among the tables, strumming and singing and strutting and twirling. Head swung, eyes followed her, mouths hung open. Disbelief. When she came by our table, I got my first good look at her face. She wasn't gorgeous, wasn't ugly. A sprinkle of freckles crossed the bridge of her nose. Mostly she looked like a hundred other girls in school, except for two things. She wore no makeup, and her eyes were the biggest I had ever seen, like deer's eyes caught in headlights. She twirled as she went past, he flaring skirt brushing my pantleg, and then she marched out of the lunchroom.
From among the tables came three slow claps. Someone whistled. Someone yelped.
Kevin and I gawked at each other.
Kevin held up his hands and framed a marquee in the air. "Hot Seat! Coming Attraction - Stargirl!"
I slapped the table. "Yes!"
We slammed hands.

Reading Group Guide

Stargirl is a true celebration of nonconformity.

This oftentimes tense and emotional story explores the fleeting, cruel nature of popularity-and the thrill and inspiration of first love. The questions, discussion topics, and author information that follow are intended to guide readers and spark discussion as they begin to analyze the larger emotional, sociological, and literary elements of this exceptional and thought-provoking novel.

1. As the saying goes, "love is blind." How is this truly the case with Leo and Stargirl? Looking back, how can you tell that Leo was falling for her? And does he stay in love with her, even after she moves away?

2. Professor Archie Brubaker is the voice of reason throughout the novel. Archie has many thoughtful insights into the personality of Stargirl, and at one point says about her: "You'll know her more by your questions than by her answers. Keep looking at her long enough. One day you might see someone you know." Now that you've finished the novel, what do you think Archie means by this statement?

3. While Stargirl is a guest on "Hot Seat," Kevin asks her why she changed her name. Do you accept her reason why she did this? How is "Stargirl" an ideal name for her? Think about the possibility of changing your name several times. Do you think your name is an integral part of who you are, or can you imagine yourself with another one?

4. In the beginning, Hillari Kimble seems to be the only person who openly dislikes Stargirl. But then others begin to feel the same way as Hillari. Do you think that groups of people need a leader, like Hillari Kimble, to turn opinions against another person?

5. Do you, as a reader, like Stargirl? If you were a student at Mica High, would you reach out to her like Dori Dilson, or reject her like Hillari Kimble? Do you think the students of Mica High are ultimately too harsh on Stargirl?

6. Popularity, fitting in, and "sameness" are all key themes in Stargirl. Find places in the novel that reinforce these themes and discuss. Do you think Stargirl ever wanted to be popular? How might she define popularity?

7. After Stargirl changes back to "Susan," Leo says "she looked magnificently, wonderfully, gloriously ordinary. She looked just like a hundred other girls at Mica High—I had never been so happy and proud in my whole life." How did you feel when you read this part of the novel?

8. Author Jerry Spinelli plays two major events in the novel off of each other: the basketball championships and the oratorical contest. After Stargirl wins the oratorical contest, Leo says that "the cheering is as wild as that of the crowd at a championship basketball game." Stargirl is the focus at both events but in very different ways. How is she rejected at one and accepted at the other? And how does this acceptance ultimately lead to rejection?

9. The Ocotillo Ball at the end of the novel represents a turning point. Do you think Stargirl made a deliberate attempt to say good-bye at the ball? What do you make of the students' behavior at the ball, and what does this tell you about the student body of Mica High as a whole?

10. Archie says about Stargirl, "Star people are rare. You'll be lucky to meet another." Do you think Leo was grown-up enough for his relationship with Stargirl? How about the students of Mica High? Will Leo ever figure Stargirl out?

11. What is the irony at the end of Stargirl? Is Stargirl popular after all? What happens to the "popular" kids in the story—do they stay popular?

Customer Reviews

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Stargirl 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1407 reviews.
Victoria-Star More than 1 year ago
Books are good. I love books, actually, they're close to breathing on my scale. But out of the, say, a zillion books published each year, stamped with ink and piled accordingly in bookstores across our many are life changing? Realistic that's it's almost scary? and so emotional that you'll cry for an hour after closing the cover for the last time? Stargirl did all these things, and more. It is truly a once in a lifetime book. It's beautiful, it's simple yet complex, it's life changing and life altering. The first time i read it (about a year or two ago) I cried in my bed for an hour after finishing it. It's just that touching, that beautiful, that emotional. I loved it. It's a book that cries to be re-read, treasured, passed down, and most of all...applied. stargirl carries a lesson all of us FAIL to, your, self. No matter what others think. No matter what others do, or say. No matter how people try to suufocate your most precious dreams. The story is simply enough. Stargirl, a homeschooler, attends a publci school in Arizonia. She is decidely different, in every way from her made up chosen name to her costumes as clothes rules. She is kind to everyone. She loves her neighbor as herself. she does deeds to strangers. She loves those who kill her. Leo meets her, falls in love...but cannot accept her. Slightly, but barely. The rest, dear reader, you'll have to find out for yourself. It's too amazing to give away even a minor spolier. I will say, that if you decide, after reading this humble review, to pick up this book, know that your life will NOT be the same after you finish it. It's a warning. This book alters your life. Jerry Spinelli has a gift others dare to find. He can translate life simply, beautifully, not to mention without all the usual Young Adult gunk and junk (none of that is found here, so you know) in a way that's oringinal, realistic, and most of all...touching. This book is touching. And a tearjerker. I cannot reccomend this book more. It's a classic.
Natalie Nielsen More than 1 year ago
I love this book! Stargirl and Leo are such realistic characters. All girls seem to like the same music and dress the same way and talk the same and act the same but then you meet Stargirl who is unique and looks at things different. And doesn't care what people think about her. I think that anyone who gives this book a chance will love it from the start to finish.
Christine-Chang More than 1 year ago
"Stargirl" is a book written by one of the most talented writer. It starts with mysterious girl, Stargirl(Susan) transferring to Mica high-school, Arizona. Book Stargirl is about a girl and a boy on their high-school life She wears 1950's and plays a ukulele on every birthdays. And there is Leo, an ordinary boy who wants to be ordinary. Stargirl was always home schooled, she was a bright kid thinking that everyone likes her. After few problems(read the book) Leo becomes Stargirl's girlfriend. Then, Leo, told Stargirl that NOBODY likes her. After few days Stargirl was gone. One day, she changed her name Susan, and her apperance. After graduating Susan went. Susan left everything behind her, friends, memories, Leo. I really enjoyed this book, it was one of my favorite book. I strongly suggest this book, its a really good book for teenagers^^
Guest More than 1 year ago
What a greaaaat book!!!!! It took me one day to finish this book it was sooo good. Everyone should read this book. After you read this you need to read Love Stargirl.
Readingmama2006 More than 1 year ago
I picked this up when i was about 14. (im 25 now) I have to say it is one of the more memorable books ive read. I still am holding on to my copy of this book.
Novel_Teen_Book_Reviews More than 1 year ago
Review by Jill Williamson

Leo Borlock hears the rumors first. A new girl. Previously homeschooled. Weird. Even weirder: her name is Stargirl. Then he sees her. She looks like she¿s wearing her grandma¿s wedding dress, and she carries around a ukulele and serenades anyone unlucky enough to have a birthday.

Leo¿s first goal: to get Stargirl to appear on the show Hot Seat, the in-school TV show that Leo produces and directs. But Stargirl doesn¿t react like a normal student either. She doesn¿t seem bothered by people who make fun of her, she cheers for both football teams¿even when the home team is losing¿and she wraps the school body around her finger. At first.

But then things start to go bad. People start to ignore her, shun her, and treat her horribly. Leo¿s TV show goes so badly he can¿t possibly air it, because he¿s fallen in love with Stargirl. The only solution Leo can come up with is for Stargirl to be like everyone else. Be normal. But that could be the worst advice of all.

What a surprisingly fun story. I loved Stargirl¿s confidence and love for everyone. She is a strong person who challenges other students to be who they want to be and not necessarily go with the flow all the time. Sometimes high school can feel like a prison. Students can feel like they have to act a certain way or face ridicule. Life isn¿t meant to be lived that way, and Stargirl knows that. She does get hurt by it eventually, for let¿s face it, no one can be more ruthless that a bunch of high schoolers set on bringing someone down. But Stargirl bounces back, I think, because she likes who she is and she realizes that restraint is not a bad thing. She can still be her loving self but not force it on others. Stargirl is not a Christian, and may practice New Age or some other meditative religion, so take that into consideration. But the moral of the story is fabulous and well worth reading.
LaneyDC More than 1 year ago
Some mean girls and i were talking about stargirl and they said they hated it. I started cracking up laughing because,thy cant undrstand the beauty of a person. Not being afraud to show who you are!!!!! This is my favorite book. At first, i thought it would be weird for a man to write it and leo to be the main character, but it qorked perfectly well. Amazingly well written. Too bad there isn't a third one though Delaney
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli is a fictional novel. This novel was very good. It was exciting but also sad at times. The main character was very amusing. She always did something crazy. This took place in Mica, Arizona during modern time. Stargirl Caraway was the star of Mica High School. Then, the tables turned and everyone hated her. They ignored her and they didn't even look at her, even when she was doing something exciting. Stargirl kept on playing the ukulele to people on their birthday. Also, she kept on wearing weird and bold clothes no matter what people said to her. She also kept on cheering for the other team when the other team scored even when her teammates yelled at her and told her to sit down. The author uses a lot of funny words. That makes the story funnier and even easier to read. It makes you want to keep on reading to see what else happens in his novel. People who like comedy should read this novel because it is funny. Also, people who like drama and romance because there is romance between the two main characters in this novel.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I first picked up Stargirl about 2 years ago when I was in 7th Grade. I give this book credit for getting me through the tough, conformist, dramatic Junior High years. The ending always makes me cry, every time I read it, but the story is a lesson everyone can learn from. All of the people who don't like it because "It's weird" or "she's a freak" have more to learn than others. Stargirl, an extraordinary character with childlike innoncence and the most beautiful heart, teaches us to live and love every moment of life. (sounds cheesy, but you'll get what I mean when you read it)
Guest More than 1 year ago
I am currently reading this book and I can not put it down for a second. It is sweet, humorous, sad, and enjoyable rolled into one. Adults and kids should read this book. It is a very heart-warming story and will make you cry. I know I do when I read it. Thanks Jerry Spinelli!! You are a wonderful writer!! You are my influence on my book!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is one of my favorites because it is about being yourself
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The best book ever. You should get it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Is this book good for a 11 year old girl like me?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a life lesson if you can understand this book, because she always treat's other's the way she Want's to be treated like,nice,kind helpful,caring and full of kindfullness ang that is the strongest kindness that is ever called out by:Anoymous
KatrinaO More than 1 year ago
Newcomer Stargirl captures the heart of a boy in school amidst her eccentricity. Though Stargirl was able to capture the boy’s heart, her eccentric ways didn’t win the hearts of others. The boy then is caught between his love for Stargirl and his normal relationship with the rest.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
An amazing book! Will help teenage girls through j-high and high school! Cant wait to read the second book called Love
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
You should read it! One of the best books I have ever read!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have this book not on my nook but just regular paperback and it rocks!!!!!!! Posted by samantha adams
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book blew me away. The idea of Stargirl and all that she stands for is what every author should try to achieve. This book was written so beautifully that it sometimes left me breathless, wondering how a human could possibly weave a tale so masterful and enchanting with merely words. I've read thousands of books so far, and without a doubt, this is the best one I've ever read. It deserves thousands more stars than just 5. Stargirl taught me so much, and I can only hope that she can inspire others to do what she embraced, being herself in a world where you are shunned if you don't blend in with the crowd. Jerry Spinelli's writing was out of this world, his book Stargirl deserves countless honors!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Bet book ever. Period. A must read. It has crazy plans romance and will have you laughing one second and in tears the next. Truly amazing and recomended to all age's. I apsolutly love this book and will read it over and over. The best book ever!!!!!!!
SydneyTemps More than 1 year ago
I read it at age 12, and now at 18 it is still one of my favorite books. As it gets easier to read, you fall in love with the characters even more.
MissPrint More than 1 year ago
Okay, I'm going to say it. Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli is a young adult classic (maybe even a children's classic but that's really a cataloguing issue that I am ill-equipped to discuss). This designation raises the question: What makes a book (any book) a classic? For me it means a book that is timeless; something you can read years and years after it was written without the book losing its vibrancy. A classic also needs to have memorable writing and characters. It needs to speak to the reader. It needs to be a book that you enjoy more every time you read it or talk about it. Classics are the books you want to immerse yourself in: the books you wish you could live in with the characters that you wish were your friends. I'll say it again: Stargirl is a classic. The story starts with Leo Borlock, who moved to Mica, Arizona at the age of twelve. Around the time of his move, Leo decided to start collecting porcupine neckties--no easy task, especially in Mica. For two years, Leo's collection stood at one tie. Until his fourteenth birthday when an unknown someone presented Leo with his second tie, someone who was watching from the sidelines. Mica's unusual events don't stop there. The story continues when Leo is a junior in high school. On the first day the name on everyone's lips is Stargirl. Formerly home-schooled, Stargirl is a sophomore like no one Leo (or any of the other Mica students) has ever met before: "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." After finishing this book and recently reading Love, Stargirl (Spinelli's newly released sequel), I have my own explanation: Stargirl is magical. She represents the kind of magic more people need in their lives: to appreciate the little things, to dare to be different, to be kind to strangers. The kind of magic where you still believe things can be wondrous. In the story, Leo soon realizes that Stargirl might be someone he could love. Unfortunately, high school students don't always believe in (or appreciate) magic like Stargirl's. As the school moves from fascination to adoration and, finally, to disdain Leo finds himself in an impossible position: forced to choose between the girl he loves and his entire lifestyle. Technically speaking I love everything about this book: the characters, the story, the cover art. This one has the full package. Spinelli's writing throughout the story is perfect. He captures Leo's fascination with Stargirl as well as his equivocation as he is forced to choose between Stargirl and "the crowd." Stargirl is not a long book. The writing is cogent, sentences brief. Nonetheless, the text is rich. This book never gets old or boring. Spinelli creates a compelling, utterly new narrative here (with a charmingly memorable heroine).
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Im reading this book for school for book club and it is very good. Some parts teach kids not to bully, some parts teach kids that there are kids out there with weird names. I give an infinity for stars
Anonymous 9 days ago
The book “Stargirl” has a lot of qualities that kids will like. The book talks about a girl who is very unique and weird compared to everyone else. She is made an outcast by the school and has no friends. This boy named Leo takes interest in her and he starts investigating her. He wants to find out why she is so weird and where she came from. I liked that she and Leo become friends and then they start dating. It shows that unique people can still have a good life. The characters were very believable because of their personalities. The ending of the story could have been better because it left us on a cliffhanger with Stargirl’s disappearance and her location was still unknown. My favorite part was when Leo and Stargirl. This book is for young audiences so teenagers and young adults will find it interesting.