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by Jack Gantos
Review by Christian Perring, Ph.D. on Apr 26th 2002
Pigza is so out of control that its pretty scary. He is constantly getting into trouble because he gets so revved
up. He puts a key on a piece of string
and swallows it, and then pulls the string and retrieves the key. Except for the time when the key is not on
its string, but he forgets and swallows it anyway. He also puts his finger in a pencil sharpener, runs with scissors
and cuts the tip of a girls nose off.
He is suspended from school, and goes to a Special Education Center,
where he gets better help.
He was already on medication, and he
takes it fairly regularly, but it doesnt seem to be very effective. Some of his problems are related to his
family. His mother has had problems
with alcohol in the past, and even now she is pleased when Joey makes her an
Amaretto with Mountain Dew. The
previous year, Joey lived with his Grandma, because his mother wasnt in a fit
state to look after her son. But his
Grandma was nasty to him, and told him his mother didnt want to visit him
because he was badly behaved. No wonder
that Joey feels worried about his family and what is going to happen to
Not all parents will feel that this
is appropriate reading for young children; the book jacket suggests ages 10 and
up, but parents may want to take a look at the book first, before allowing
their children to read it. It is
fast-paced and gives a sympathetic picture of Joeys inner life. Hes also quite funny; when he answers back
to his teachers, Can I get back to you on that? its hard not to laugh even
if he is being rude.
The reader never learns exactly what
is wrong with Joey; maybe its ADHD, or adjustment disorder, or depression, or
conduct disorder. It doesnt really
make much difference for the purposes of the story; its enough to know that
Joey gets so wired that he goes wild. Reading
about Joey may help children to accept kids they know who keep on getting into
trouble, and maybe, if they themselves are like Joey, they might feel that
theres some hope for them.
Jack Gantos reads the unabridged
audiobook himself, and he does a good job. He brings his words alive, and makes the story even more
© 2002 Christian Perring. First Serial Rights.
Perring, Ph.D., is Chair of the Philosophy Department at Dowling College,
Long Island. He is editor of Metapsychology Online Review. His main
research is on philosophical issues in psychiatry. He is especially interested
in exploring how philosophers can play a greater role in public life, and he is
keen to help foster communication between philosophers, mental health
professionals, and the general public.