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 some reviews written by her students in the class. The rest will appear in June.

Giggle. Snicker. Laugh. If you hear these sounds, you are sure to find Donald Zinkoff running around somewhere. There he is now! I see him! He just ran into a book. The book is called Loser by Jerry Spinelli.

Donald Zinkoff is the star of Loser and he goes to school but isn’t really noticed until fifth grade, when everyone notices him as a loser. Donald doesn’t really care what other people think about him because he is busy enjoying life.

I loved this book so much because of Donald and his giggling at almost anything. Did you hear that? It sounds like Donald is calling you. You better go out and get Loser today. Lori Kattner, 11

Yahoo! It’s school!” Who would say that? The “The Zink.” That’s short for Donald Zinkoff. And who would ever be nice to a bully and not run away? You guessed it: my pal Donald.

Whenever Donald does something special, his mother gives him a sticker shaped like a star. Donald thinks the stars fall from the sky just so mothers everywhere can go around and collect them to give to their kids when they need to be congratulated. When Donald gets a new neighbor who is unhappy about leaving his old neighborhood, Donald bakes him a giant snicker doodle cookie. This reminds me of the time I moved when I was small and had to make new friends.

I think Loser is great because it is both funny and serious. I really like that Donald goes from being a zero to a hero. If I could change one thing, I would get rid of the bully in the story because he judges Donald before he even knows him. Jose Torres, 11

Have you ever met a loser? Have you ever been a loser? Even if you haven’t, you will still love Loser. It’s about a boy who has lots of adventures and meets new and different people. At first, he has little adventures. But as he gets older, he has bigger adventures.

Donald had surgery to stop his throwing-up problem. You see, he used to throw up several times a week because of the upside down valve in his stomach. His mom had an alarm because Donald was supposed to stay home from school for three weeks. The alarm was his sister, Polly, who always says “Bye, bye” whenever anyone opens the front door. This kept Donald from sneaking off to his favorite place, school. I never had surgery before, but if someone told me I had to stay home from school for three weeks, I would like to.

Who laughs at the word “jabip”? Who throws up on his teacher’s favorite eraser? Who’s dad had driven seven junky cars called “Clunkers 1-7”? Who made the biggest snicker doodle cookie? Donald Zinkoff, that’s who!

Donald Zinkoff isn’t like ordinary kids. Donald actually loves to go to school! In fact, he was so impatient to start first grade that he went to go to school by himself, even though his mother told him to wait. Donald’s parents love him a lot. I can tell because they made “Take Donald Zinkoff to Work Day,” which was one of my favorite adventures. Donald’s dad is a mailman, so Donald can’t tag along on Take Your Son or Daughter to Work Day. So one Sunday (which is not an a official mail day) Donald gets to deliver 100 letters he made himself.

By far, this is the best book I’ve ever read. I would read it over again. Remember: If you are one of those people who loves to laugh and giggle, get Loser by Jerry Spinelli now. Ivette Patino, 11

Hey, loser. I’m not actually calling you a loser, but I’m talking about the new book by Jerry Spinelli. Loser is about a clumsy kid named Donald Zinkoff who has been a loser his whole life and he doesn’t even realize it.

The book contains a series of adventures. In one, Donald joins a soccer team and demonstrates the same enthusiasm he has for school. He isn’t very good but doesn’t care. He accidentally scores a point for the other team. I wonder what will happen to Donald Zinkoff when he grows up. You know what they say: Once a loser, always a loser. Oh well, the book is a winner! Feda Hadzimusic, 12

“Loser, loser, double loser,” says one mean kid to a little boy who doesn’t even care. Who is this amazing kid with that much self-confidence? Donald Zinkoff, star of Loser.

One of my favorite parts is Donald’s little sister, Polly, the cute little alarm for the house. When she sits by the front door to make sure Donald doesn’t leave the house after his surgery, his mom knows she will yell “Bye, bye!” She does that even after Donald tries to bribe her with a cupcake. It makes me laugh to see Polly the alarm set off.

I would recommend this book to my brother because Donald Zinkoff is jolly, just like my brother. On a scale from one to 10, I would vote Loser a 10 because some of us are just like Donald. Sheira Rodriguez, 11

Who’s funny? Who loves school? Who’s a hero? If you guessed Donald Zinkoff, you’re right. If you like school and don’t like to wait, you’ll love the book Loser too.

When it was time for Donald to start first grade, he wore his beloved giraffe hat to school. During recess, a fourth-grade bully wanted to mess with Donald and told him the hat was his. Donald really thought he had made a mistake and the hat belonged to the other kid, so he simply said, “OK.” This made the bully mad because he didn’t get the reaction he was looking for from a first-grader.

I think Loser is both funny and a little sad. The only thing you are not going to like about Loser is that there is no sequel. Dragan Jovanovic, 11

Do you like funny books? Then you are going to love Loser about Donald Zinkoff. Donald’s problem is he does not have friends and he loses at everything he tries to do.

Donald Zinkoff has a problem throwing up a lot. One time he even threw up on his teacher’s favorite chalkboard eraser. She got so mad she told him to get out of her classroom. You see, she had bought the eraser with her own money and kept it for many years. This reminded me of the time when my brother threw up on the bus.

The reason I like Loser most of all is because Donald loves to laugh. And whenever he laughs, I laugh too. Jazmin Roman, 11

KID’S CORNER We want to hear from kids. So, we are asking the 7-14 age set to submit reviews of about 300-500 words to Kid’s 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, the town where you live 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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