Kids’ Corner

Kids give rave reviews to Spinelli’s Loser

Mary Tripp’s fifth-graders at Bateman Elementary School in Chicago saw one of Chicago Parent’s first Kids’ Corner reviews and were inspired to write their own reviews of Loser by Jerry Spinelli. The following are excerpts from the reviews written by 22 students in the class.

Have you ever tried a snicker doodle cookie? If you liked it, you will love Loser. That’s because the snicker doodle is Donald Zinkoff’s favorite cookie, and Loser is his story. Donald always lost every single game but he was remarkable because he never gave up. At first, the other kids never really noticed him. Eventually they did. Some even made fun of him. Despite the teasing, Donald always maintains a positive attitude.

Like me, Donald Zinkoff plays soccer. He likes to run a lot but he never seems to get anywhere. Once he kicked the referee when he meant to kick the ball. That very same thing happened to my brother, and I laughed so hard. Finally the game was over and Donald was cheering even though his team lost. You see, he was really happy to see the other team so happy. That’s why I think this story is so funny. It is as if Donald doesn’t even know what is he doing is hilarious. Javier Gonzalez, 11

Loser is about a boy named Donald Zinkoff who is always ready for learning. Donald had a problem with throwing up frequently. He had to get surgery and then stay home for three weeks. Donald loves school so much that he tried to sneak off to school. Donald’s mom put his little sister Polly’s playpen near the door so every time Donald tried to sneak off, she would yell “Bye, bye” and his mom caught him. I like school too, but if I get a chance to stay home, I would never sneak out. Andria Ammons, 11

In Loser, Donald Zinkoff is always doing something funny. He almost always screws up and loses at everything he tries until he does something brave and someone notices how brave he really is. If I were to rate this book on a scale from one to 10, I wouldn’t, because it is too good for any number between one and 10. If I owned the book, I would read it every day. I felt a little sad and mad when it ended. I wish it had gone on forever. Lynette Perez, 11

Who has made the world’s biggest snicker doodle cookie? Who went to work with his dad, the mailman, for a day and threw up in his dad’s mailbag? “The Zink,” that’s who.

One day, he meets a toddler named Claudia who is kept on the leash so she won’t run away from home. She gives Donald an old chewed-up piece of bubble gum that was on the floor as a present. When Donald gets the only A in the entire class, he thinks it is because of the stone, so he calls it his lucky bubble gum stone. This part reminds me of the time a little girl playing in the dirt gave me a shiny thing she had found. It was a shiny yellow stone that looked like gold. To me that was a lucky day.

I think the book is so funny but it does have some serious parts. It describes how kids screw up, get mocked or left out. But sometimes people go from loser to winner. Read the book to find out how. Eder Benitez, 11

When Donald Zinkoff is in fourth grade, he participates in field day, which is a day of competition between all the classes. Up until fourth grade, most people never even notice Donald. He loves field day. But does field day love him back? Everyone thinks Donald is slow at running and they don’t want him to be on their team. Of course, he messes up and his whole team is mad at him and Donald becomes the loser.

Loser is a book for comedy lovers. Alex Franco, 11

Who pukes on his teacher’s favorite eraser? Who’s scared of the furnace monster? Who likes school even though no one likes him? Donald Zinkoff, that’s who.

One time, Donald had to take a “test that is not a test” at school. One of the questions was, “Who is your best friend?” Donald looked around the room and put down the name of a classmate he didn’t really know, Hector Binnis. When it was recess, Donald approached Hector and tried to be best friends with him. Hector took out a jar and a paper clip and started picking at his ear. He planned to make a candle out of his own earwax. This is the best book I have ever read. I recommend this book to every one, even adults. Monique Aguirre, 11

Loser is about a boy named Donald Zinkoff who loves school so much that he never misses a day. He never cares what people think about him, either.

Do you like adventures? Do you like trips? Do you like characters who are kind of crazy? Then you will love Loser by Jerry Spinelli. It’s like taking a trip or going on an adventure and meeting all kinds of unique people without even leaving your house! These aren’t the kind of adventures that Harry Potter has, but everyday sorts of adventures.

One of Donald’s adventures is when he tried to find a little girl named Claudia. Usually Claudia is on a leash, but one day she wanders off during a snowstorm. Donald went out looking for her for hours and hours. Even though someone else had found her right away, Donald stayed out looking for her, not knowing he was too late. This reminds me of one time my little brother lost his ball and I tried to find it but couldn’t. When I got back, my little brother already had it.

Do you want to get lost and laugh yourself silly? Then pick up Loser today and read it not once, but twice. Ivan Enriquez, 11

Who is the biggest loser in the world? Who? Well, his name is Donald Zinkoff. He’s a boy who doesn’t really get noticed much by the other kids until they realize he is a loser. He loses at everything he tries to do. But it doesn’t bother Donald or the people who love him, his family.

In the book, Donald decides to be friends with a boy named Hector Binnis because he doesn’t have a best friend and neither does Hector. They get along. When Donald invites Hector to hang out, Hector answers, “I guess so.” Hector doesn’t say much except “I guess so” or “I guess not.” Then one day for no reason Hector decides he doesn’t want to be Donald’s friend anymore.

The book is very funny and has lots of adventures. Alejandro Martinez, 11

Who’s that kid on the bookshelf who likes snicker doodles, loves to laugh, and throws up too much? It’s Donald Zinkoff. He’s weird, he’s amazing and he’s funny.

Donald is a very unique boy. Donald is so happy to go to school. He laughs a lot when his teacher uses the word “jabip.” And Donald plays soccer with his old neighbor, Andrew Orwell. Donald was a mailman for a day. He met a weird friend named Hector Binnis who’s making a candle out of his own earwax.

The worst part of the book is the ending. It’s a happy ending, but bad for anyone who wants the book to continue. Daniel Caguana, 11

Do you know anyone who loses? Who likes to eat snicker doodle cookies? Who has a giraffe hat? Who wakes up so early for school and then realizes it’s Saturday? I am going to tell you all about a boy who is all of these things. His name is Donald Zinkoff and he’s the main character of Loser.

Donald never gets an A until one time he got the only A in geography. All the other kids were mocking him, calling him things like “The Zink.” He thought it must be good. That very same thing happened to me when I got an A and people started to be friendly. I thought they wanted to be my friends but they were only mocking me, too. The book made me sad at times, but mostly I felt proud of Donald Zinkoff because even if others thought he was a loser, he knew that he was a winner Alejandra Carrera, 11

Loser by Jerry Spinelli is about a boy named Donald Zinkoff. He never wins at anything. He is always doing dumb things and he laughs at himself. His problem is that he never wins.

One time I did something dumb like Donald Zinkoff. I was walking down the hall and my head hit the door. Everyone started to laugh, even me.

I liked the book because it was really funny. If I could change one thing about the book, I would make it even more funny. Now that you’ve heard about dumb, dorky Donald, you will have to read Loser. You will love it too. Anthony Lopez, 10

Want to learn about a loser? Then read Loser by Jerry Spinelli. The book is about a kid named Donald Zinkoff who gets teased by his classmates. Donald loves school. One morning no one in his house was up, so he got ready and went to school by himself. He waited about two hours and not one other person was there. Finally his mom and dad pulled up in his dad’s junky car called “Clunker” and said, “What are you doing here? It’s Saturday! There’s no school on the weekend.”

If you would like to hear how being a loser can be funny, sad and happy you will have to read Loser. Daisy Carbajal, 11

If you haven’t read Loser by Jerry Spinelli, you’re not a loser… not yet. But if you don’t read it after you are done with this book review, you are the biggest loser ever!

The book is about a boy named Donald Zinkoff who loves school even though he isn’t very good at it. He loses at everything he tries to do and gets picked on sometimes. But he meets a lot of people and has many adventures, and he is one of the happiest people I’ve ever met in a book.

Now that you know a little bit about the book Loser, you shouldn’t be a loser yourself. Go get the book now! Nicole Storm, 12

Please Send Us…

Kids’Corner We want to hear from kids. So, we are asking the 7-14 set to submit reviews of less than 350 words to Kids’ Corner. If we run it, we’ll send you a $10 gift certificate. Please include your photo, the full title of whatever you are reviewing, your name, age, address and your parents’ name and phone number. Send it to: Kids’ Corner c/o Chicago Parent, 141 S. Oak Park Ave., Oak Park, Il 60302, or e-mail it to

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