Jerry Spinelli, author of the critically acclaimed Maniac Magee, delivers another novel laden with realistic depictions of childhood slights and conundrums. In Loser, Spinelli introduces us to Donald Zinkoff, an incredibly happy child, who has an unbounded, keen interest in anything newfangled or out of the ordinary. However, his relentless optimism and enthusiasm grates on his fellow classmates, who deem his slow aptitude for learning, uncontrollable laughter, and complete lack of athletic prowess as friendship determinants. Donald’s beloved family, who adore and support their wayward son, cushion his classmates’ mockery and criticism. Dubbed a ‘loser’ by fourth grade, Donald begins to fade into the background as middle school approaches, and the unique boy is divested of notice. Loser ends on a hopeful, redemptive note, however Spinelli is careful to maintain a distinct level of reality in the tale he renders, and has produced a novel that centers on a child deemed ‘different’ by his peers, giving him an endearing voice that delivers a pointed message.