Geographic Connection to Pennsylvania: Phoenixville, Chester County
Childrens author Eileen Spinelli lives with her family in Wayne.
Born in 1942, Eileen Spinelli later became a writer of children’s books and poems. Her passion for writing about real life experiences earned her recognition throughout Pennsylvania and awards, such as the Christopher Award for the book, Somebody Loves You, Mr. Hatch (1991). At the time of this writing, she lives in Wayne, Pennsylvania, with her husband Jerry Spinelli.
Eileen Spinelli was born August 16, 1942, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She is the daughter of Joseph Patrick and Angela Marie Mesi. Spinelli is married to her favorite author, Jerry Spinelli, and they have six children and 14 grandchildren. Her husband is the author of the famous book, Maniac Magee, winner of the Newbery Medal. The Spinelli’s are very creative with their writings and love to write for children of all ages. Eileen Spinelli is part of the Children’s Reading Roundtable and Writers Club of Delaware County and was once a creative writing teacher and secretary. She has been interested in writing ever since she was six-years-old when her father gave her a manual typewriter, and has now written over 30 books.
Spinelli writes many creative children’s books and poems. Her ideas from her collection of writings come from her everyday life. She gathers her thoughts when she visits places, such as the pet shop, and reads articles in the newspaper. This author and poet is a talented writer and enjoys other kinds of art forms, such as painting and gardening. She not only has written a great number of children’s books, but also a collection of meaningful poems. Some of her famous picture books include Thanksgiving at the Tappletons, Do You have a Hat, and While You are Away? One of her first books published, Thanksgiving at the Tappletons, is about a family whose Thanksgiving dinner goes totally wrong but in the end has each other. On the other hand, the juvenile picture book, Do you have a Hat?, is written in rhyme much like a Dr. Seuss book. Her books are popular not only because they are fun to read, but also because they have morals and meanings for children growing up in the world today. The books exemplify real life situations and show that everyone can have good and bad days.
Jerry Spinelli, Eileen’s husband, has inspired her to write many of her books. Eileen’s most prestigious award was probably the Christopher Award for her book, Somebody Loves You, Mr. Hatch. The Christopher Award is given for books “which affirm the highest values of the human spirit.” She was also honored to get many other awards such as the Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Platinum Award in 1999 for When Mama Comes Home Tonight, the July 1995 Philadelphia Children’s Reading Round Table Book Award of the Month for Lizzie Logan Wears Purple Sunglasses, CCBC Choices in 2003 for Wanda’s Monster, and Bank Street College of Education’s Best Children’s books of the Year in 2003 for Here Comes the Year. She has even been nominated for North Carolina’s Children’s Book Award for 2001 for Lizzie Logan, Second Banana.
Spinelli has written several short novels about a girl named Lizzie Logan. These juvenile fiction stories are perfect for a beginner novel reader. Lizzie is first featured in the book Lizzie Logan Wears Purple Sunglasses and then is reintroduced in Lizzie Logan Gets Married and Lizzie Logan, Second Banana. In the first book, Lizzie is a ten-year-old protagonist who seems to prove to be a faithful friend to Heather, a girl who just came to the area. A Kirkus Review critic, quoted in Something About the Author, said “Spinelli’s debut novel buoyantly addresses the problem of a great imagination in someone who is sensitive.’”
Many of her books and poems are meant to be read at certain times. For example, the book When Mama Comes Home Tonight was written to be read at night for a child who has a working mother and always arrives home late. Also many books like Thanksgiving at the Tappletons were meant to be read around the holiday time and could even be a story for an entire family to share.
Currently, Eileen Spinelli is living with her husband, Jerry Spinelli, in West Chester, Pennsylvania. In the near future, a new book will be released called, When You are Happy. Right now she is studying Italian and hopes to be able to hold interesting conversation in Italian in the future. She will continue to inspire others to write by conducting workshops of all ages. In Something about the Author, Spinelli said, “Our house is overflowing with books and papers and manuscripts and typewriters. My husband, who is also a writer, is very supportive, as are my children.”
Thanksgiving at the Tappletons. New York: HarperCollins, 1982.
Somebody Loves You, Mr. Hatch. New York: Bradbury Press, 1991.
Lizzie Logan Gets Married. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1997.
When Mama Comes Home Tonight. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1998.
Night Shift Daddy. New York: Hyperion, 2000.
In My New Yellow Shirt. New York: H. Holt, 2001.
Kittycat Lullaby. New York: Hyperion Books, 2001.
What do Angels Wear? New York: HarperCollins, 2001.
Here Comes the Year. New York: H. Holt, 2002.
Do You Have a Hat? New York: Simon & Schuster, 2004.
While You Are Away. New York: Hyperion Books, 2004.