Jerry Spinelli was born in Norristown, Pennsylvania in 1941. He grew up playing a wide variety of sports, including soccer and baseball. For years Jerry dreamed of becoming a major league baseball player. Yet during high school, two things persuaded him to trade in his bat for a pen: he wrote a poem that was published in the local newspaper; and, he eventually realized that he couldn’t hit a curveball.
At Gettysburg College, Jerry Spinelli began to write short stories. He also served as the editor of the college literary magazine. After graduation, Spinelli took a job as a writer and editor for a department store magazine. For the next two decades he did rather mundane editorial work as a day job so that he could have the energy to write fiction in his spare time. For years Spinelli wrote during lunch breaks, on weekends, and after dinner.
Jerry Spinelli’s first four novels were for adults. All of them were rejected. His fifth novel, also intended for adults, actually became his first children’s book. Space Station Seventh Grade was published in 1982, when Jerry Spinelli was 41 years old and had six children living at home. Nine years later, Maniac Magee won the 1991 Newbery Medal . In 1998 Spinelli’s novel, Wringer, won a Newbery Honor . Two years after that, Stargirl was named one of the best 10 books for young adults by the American Library Association. Its sequel, Love, Stargirl, was published in 2007.
When Jerry Spinelli is not writing, he likes to play tennis, pick berries, gaze up at the stars, and spend time with his 16 grandchildren. He lives in Phoenixville, Pennsylvania with his wife, fellow children’s book author Eileen Spinelli .