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Joey Pigza Swallowed the Key

by Jack Gantos

"They say I'm wired bad, or wired sad, but there's no doubt about it -- I'm wired."

Joey Pigza's got heart, he's got a mom who loves him, and he's got "dud meds," which is what he calls the Ritalin pills that are supposed to even out his wild mood swings. Sometimes Joey makes bad choices. He learns the hard way that he shouldn't stick his finger in the pencil sharpener, or swallow his house key, or run with scissors. Joey ends up bouncing around a lot - and eventually he bounces himself all the way downown, into the district special-ed program, which could be the end of the line. As Joey knows, if he keeps making bad choices, he could just fall between the cracks for good. But he is determined not to let that happen.
In this antic yet poignant new novel, Jack Gantos hasperfect pitch in capturing the humor, the off-the-wall intensity, and the serious challenges that life presents to a kid dealing with hyper-activity and related disorders.

Joey Pigza Swallowed the Key is a 1998 National Book Award Finalist for Young People's Literature.

Reviews

  • An accurate, compassionate and humorous appraisal of a boy with attention-deficit disorder.
    — Publishers Weekly, Starred Review
  • In this rollercoaster of a ride, ingenuously and breathlessly narrated by Joey himself, readers are treated to an up-close introduction to life with attention deficit disorder-or being wired, as Joey puts it. . . . Readers of this compelling tragicomedy will know almost from the start that Joey's not just a good kid-he's a great kid.
    — The Horn Book, Starred Review
  • In his first-person narrative, Joey relates incidents that are heart wrenching and humorous. From the powerful opening lines and fast-moving plot to the thoughtful inner dialogue and satisfying conclusion, readers will cheer for Joey, and for the champion in each of us.
    — School Library Journal
  • Joey; his gutsy, struggling mother; and his long-suffering teachers come to life in this highly readable novel that is sometimes funny, sometimes heartrending, and both entertaining and engrossing. . . . There are plenty of Joeys in schools today, and it is good to have one of their stories told with such skill and sympathy.
    — VOYA

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