The best effect of any book is that it excites the reader to self-activity.
-- Thomas Carlyle (1795 - 1881)

Elementary readersUpper elementary readersMiddle school readers
10 stars

Joey Pigza Swallowed the Key

AR: 4.9
Lexile: 970
RC: 5.2
by Jack Gantos
Normal Length Novel
Genre: Realistic Funny Fiction

Original post — Friday, April 11, 2008
ALA Notable Book
National Book Award Finalist

I was going to write this review about this kid, Joey, who has ADHD so he's kind of like me except I don't have an H so I don't get all crazy and bouncy like he does but I still get distracted kind of easily like him, but then I had to get a picture of the book so I stopped writing and went looking and I found two pictures, one of the book that I had and one of the paperback version which is really cool because it's black and has photos of a kid with a key on his tongue just like Joey so I decided to put the two pictures together so that meant I had to start another computer program to do that then after I did I came back here and actually started writing.

So anyway, Joey is this kid with ADHD. As he tells his story, we get to (have to) follow his train of thought and sometimes (often) it bounces around before it gets back to the point, kind of like the first paragraph of this review. It really gives you a sense of what's going on in his head, and after a while you feel like you really know this kid. He's real, he's funny. He's really funny. Unfortunately, his life is not. He had been living with his grandmother since his parents ran off when he was five. She was not a very nice person. Now, his mom, who he can barely remember and doesn't recognize, has come back after straightening out her life, and she is going to try to straighten him out. Things seem to be getting better until one day at school, Joey gets the teacher's sharp pointy scissors to cut out bumper stickers and accidentally trips over the rabbit ears on the slipper he is wearing just as a classmate, Maria, walks in the door and he falls on her and cuts off the tip of her nose! He gets kicked out of school for six weeks and has to go to a special school until he can learn to control himself.

I love this book! I just recently re-read it and I'm glad I did. I had forgotten how much I enjoyed it. As a side note, I think all teachers who work with ADHD kids should definitely read this book. It really gives you an understanding of what it must be like for those (us) kids. And I loved the ending. I am not ashamed to tell you that it brought tears to my eyes. If you are a kid, you probably won't cry, but if you are a grown-up with children (or just a grown-up who loves kids) you probably will cry, too. But whether you are a grown-up or a kid, I think you should read this book, even if you don't cry!

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(Last modified:04/11/2008)

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