Sunday, January 10, 2010

Book of the week: Joey Pigza Swallows the Key

I have loved Jack Gantos for as long as I can remember.  I have a soft spot for his character, Rotten Ralph, who reminds me of my naughty cat, Lucy.  This is the first of his books that I have read outside of the Rotten Ralph series.  As expected, it made me laugh, but there were times when I was on the verge of tears.  Joey reminds me of a few students that I have encountered through the years, but it made me stop and think what it is like to be them and constantly having people tell them to sit still and stop talking and pay attention.  Thankfully I have never had to wipe vomit off of a housekey that was intentionally swallowed by a student, but I feel quasi-prepared to deal with that situation, should it arise.  Ipecac!  Who knew?

Joey is wired wrong, as is his father and grandmother.  As a result, he has ADHD.  His mother abandoned him as a young child, and he was raised by his ill-wired grandmother.  She did horrible things to him, like making him act like a dog and trying to punish him by giving him time-out in a refrigerator.  These scenes, of course, made me wonder what home life is like for some of my students.  Luckily for Joey, his mother reappears, the grandmother disappears, and Joey is given the proper medication to control his body.  This would be a good read-aloud for fifth and sixth grades (and possibly a mature 4th grade) and is sure to lead to discussions.  And hopefully some empathy for the real Joeys of the world.

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