A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Stargirl is a sort of supernatural character who is difficult to encapsulate, despite her classmates' repeated attempts to pigeonhole her. Few parents will have objections to the content, but there is one scene in particular where Stargirl's peers verbally attack her on a television show. A romantic relationship also develops between the two main characters, but it's completely innocent. Every middle schooler should read and discuss this -- and, fortunately, many of them do.
What's the story?
11th-grader Leo has never met anyone like Stargirl, and neither has anyone else at Mica High. She dances around the cafeteria playing a ukulele, and never misses a chance to sing "Happy Birthday." She doesn't act right, she dresses weird, and she is always blazingly herself. At first the students are puzzled, then entranced, and Stargirl becomes the most popular girl at school. And Leo is in love.
But just as quickly Stargirl becomes the most despised student, shunned by the others, and Leo, now her boyfriend, is shunned with her. Though she has opened him up to new ways of experiencing life, when forced to choose between Stargirl and everyone else, Leo does what any teenager would do, and that choice reverberates down the rest of the years of his life.
Is it any good?
This is a gently mystical, thought-provoking, and enchanting rumination on conformity. It is, in some ways, a YA version of The Little Prince, or a female version of Spinelli's own award-winning Maniac Magee. A bittersweet paean to eccentricity and nonconformity, it is also a scathing commentary on teenagers, which makes its popularity with them all the more interesting.
Like much of Spinelli's best work, it straddles the line between reality and fantasy, dwelling in the land of legend and allegory. Spinelli himself says, in an interview printed in the back of the book, "the character [is] intended to raise dust in the corners of credibility, to challenge our routine ways of seeing ourselves." It does that -- it's hard to imagine young teens reading this and not having to think hard about their friends, actions, and the outcasts in their own world.
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For kids who love a little satire
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