The Very Hungry Librarian

consuming, sharing, and reviewing books for children

Joey Pigza Swallowed the Key by Jack Gantos

Joey Pigza Swallowed the KeyDespite so many children being diagnosed with ADHD, there are very few children’s books that actually touch on the subject. Jack Gantos, through his uproariously funny and goodhearted character, Joey Pigza has created a series that brings humor to this disorder, but also poignantly illustrates the challenges children with ADHD face both socially and academically. Aside from his diagnosis, Joey Pigza struggles with many challenges, including being abandoned by his parents and left in the care of his careless, mean-spirited, and equally “wired” grandmother. Often misunderstood by his teachers and peers, Joey finds himself in all kinds of trouble despite his best intentions to be well-behaved and trouble free. When his mother comes back into his life, it only causes more confusion and stress, and despite medication, he cannot keep himself under control. He is ultimately placed in a special education class after nearly taking off another student’s nose with a pair of scissors.  In the end, with the help of new doctors and caring teachers, Joey makes giant strides and is able to return to his regular classroom.

I read this book to my nine-year old son, and we laughed out loud throughout the book, but the story line also opened up several serious conversations about dealing with awkward and difficult social situations. Gantos successfully achieves creating a character with high appeal, placing him in a storyline with a difficult and challenging theme, and bringing in just the right amount of humor to keep kids interested and engaged. Joey Pigza is an unforgettable character who embodies determination, courage, kindness, and spirit, and in spite of everything always strives to be a better person than he was the day before.

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This entry was posted on July 17, 2013 by .

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