cover image LOSER


Jerry Spinelli, , read by Steve Buscemi. . HarperChildren's Audio, $24 (, unabridged, three cassettes, 4 hours, $24 ISBN p) ISBN 978-0-06-008794-4

In a finely measured performance, prolific screen actor Buscemi brings an appropriately understated emotional current to Spinelli's tale about Donald Zinkoff, a generally happy, spirited and clumsy boy known to his classmates and neighbor kids as the biggest loser around. Though he has no real friends, can't seem to do anything right and is often misunderstood or even disliked by his teachers, Zinkoff never loses his positive outlook on life. By creating such an unusually good-natured protagonist, Spinelli can show the ugly, cruel behavior of other children without making Zinkoff into a pathetic victim. This tack may well encourage listeners to consider how they treat their friends, classmates and teammates. In a great balancing act, Buscemi's reading perfectly matches the book's poignant theme while at the same time conveying the sense of fun and adventure with which Zinkoff views the world. From the start, listeners will want to know how things turn out. Ages 8-12. (May)