Bwog staffer Lucy Tang stops by Bank Street and relives a time before Lit Hum.

Once upon a time, reading for school wasn’t stressful. Two days ago at Bank Street bookstore, I was transported to a time when required reading was Maniac Magee, the good old days… A crowded auditorium full of clamoring elementary school children was a certainly drastic change from the Ahmadinejad fervor Monday, but it was refreshing to witness some genuine enthusiasm.

Spinelli was at Bank Street to promote Love, Stargirl, the sequel to the New York Times bestseller Stargirl, a book about a lonely boy and his precocious female friend. Though he is an adamant opponent of sequels, Spinelli says, “Once I gave Stargirl a voice, she wouldn’t shut up.”

His books have that widespread appeal that spans different backgrounds. Regardless of race, gender, and even age, everyone can appreciate characters like Maniac Magee and Stargirl. The U.S. government even commissioned Stargirl to be published in the Middle East to promote peace, though the actual effectiveness is questionable, at least it’s something.

After a short summary about the process of Love, Stargirl, Spinelli moved on to the Q & A session and fifty arms shot up. It reached to the extent where Spinelli would point at one person, and three other surrounding people would ask hopefully, “Me?”

The questions Spinelli received were probably those he had been asked a million times before, the usual, “Who gave you the idea for [insert title of book here]?” “How do you relate so well to kids?” “When did you start writing?” Yet Spinelli answered the questions with thought and care, inserting various humorous anecdotes like the story about the beginning of his writing career.

It was the first day of school, Spinelli was six years old, he sat down next to a beautiful girl and consequently, falls in love. However, he was too shy to say anything to her and wanted to write her a note detailing his feelings. Unfortunately, being the first day of school, Spinelli didn’t know how to write. After weeks of learning, he finally learned the words that captured his feelings, he wrote her a note with the words, “Will you marry me?”

Throughout the entire meeting and Q&A session, I found myself just as entertained as the children. Then I realized Spinelli’s secret, he talks to children as if they were adults, no patronization, “I don’t write down to you guys. I write stories as they come naturally.”�

Next author to grace Bank Street: Judy Blume Saturday September, 29th.