Parents' Guide to


By Matt Berman, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 9+

A moving, funny, lyrical tale with big appeal.

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A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this book.

Community Reviews

age 8+

Based on 3 parent reviews

age 9+

Brings back memories

Great book for kids. it gives kids an important message, not everyone is good at everything, but everyone is good at something.

This title has:

Educational value
Great messages
Great role models
age 9+


Zinkoff is a happy-go-lucky kid. He is kind and thoughtful. He loves his family and admires his father's profession as a mailman. It's hard not to fall in love with Donald Zinkoff.

This title has:

Great messages
Great role models

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (3):
Kids say (29):

Few writers could pull this off -- a book with no villains, no heroes, and little real conflict, which is basically a child development text turned into a novel. Yet it's moving, funny, lyrical, and has powerful appeal for both children and adults. Jerry Spinelli gives his readers a careful, at times humorous, portrait of a kid who is only special to his family, and scatters penetrating insights into growing up along the way. Zinkoff's (no one calls him Donald except his teachers) mistakes and quirks are endearing, since we're seeing them from the inside. And his one real talent, a sunny disposition, keeps his life from seeming cruel when he's not picked for teams, when he's ridiculed and taunted, when he, in short, loses, again and again.

This type of story, of course, has been done often before, though rarely with Spinelli's wit and craft. And we all know the formula -- eventually there will be some great dramatic event, the hero will have his moment to shine, and everyone will realize that he's not a loser at all. But that doesn't happen here. There's a moment when it might, but it's not something a Zinkoff, or a real child, can pull off. And therein lies Spinelli's unusual point -- not that losers are really winners, or I'm ok, you're ok, but that the measuring sticks we chose may not be the only ones there are. And Spinelli has the courage to stick to his point right to the end -- no losers or winners, no heroes or villains, no happy endings or sad ones, just children, and their confusing ability occasionally to connect.

Book Details

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