A bright light in the galaxy of young adult fiction

Stargirl" by Jerry Spinelli shines brightly in the galaxy of this season's new literature. The book is poignant yet uplifting, both a celebration and a cautionary tale. Newbery Medal and Honor winner Spinelli gives us stellar writing and a wondrous, slightly magical heroine. Stargirl appears at Mica High School in Arizona seemingly from nowhere. Rumored to have been home-schooled, she doesn't understand all the unspoken rules for fitting in. Wearing long, flowing skirts; serenading others with her ukulele; and dispensing handmade greeting cards are natural for her, but off-putting to her more conventional fellow students. However, Stargirl's generous nature and unusual antics finally win them over - and especially Leo, the novel's teenage narrator. The story soars through the young couple's innocent weeks of first love, but the reader is made painfully aware that overnight popularity can be fleeting. For a powerful and thought-provoking book about nonconformity, this has a gentle, haunting quality. And it just may prompt some readers to make quiet vows about being kinder and more compassionate - more like Stargirl herself.

Karen Carden reviews children's books for the Monitor.

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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