In a starred review, PW said, "Like its predecessor, Joey Pigza Swallowed the Key, this high-voltage, honest novel mixes humor, pain, fear and courage with deceptive ease." Ages 10-up. (Mar.) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
First introduced in Joey Pigza Swallowed the Key, Gantos's hyperactive hero Joey Pigza has not lost any of his liveliness, but after undergoing therapy and a stint in special ed., he now can exercise a reasonable amount of self-control--provided he takes his meds. His mother has reluctantly agreed to let him spend the summer three hours from home with his father, an alcoholic who, so he claims, has taken steps to turn his life around. Readers will sight trouble ahead long before Joey's optimistic perception of his father grows blurry. Mr. Pigza is at least as "wired" as the old Joey, and when he resorts to his drinking habits and becomes belligerent, Joey (who still wants to win his father's favor) feels scared. Then Mr. Pigza, telling Joey his medicine patches are a "crutch" that Joey doesn't need, summarily flushes them down the toilet: "You are liberated... You are your own man, in control of your own life," he announces. Joey is torn between wanting to call his mom immediately and sticking with his father. "Even though I knew he was wrong," Joey says, "he was my dad, and I wanted him to be right." Like its predecessor, this high-voltage, honest novel mixes humor, pain, fear and courage with deceptive ease. Struggling to please everyone even as he sees himself hurtling toward disaster, Joey emerges as a sympathetic hero, and his heart of gold never loses its shine. Ages 10-up. (Sept.) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.|
In this National Book Award Finalist selection, Gantos introduces a young boy learning to cope with ADHD. Joey has medicine and strategies in this sequel, but he is still the same Joey. In the opening scene, he sets up living room pillows as targets, accidentally pierces his dog's ear, then solves the problem with a hoop earring. Soon after, Joey is off to live with his heavy-drinking, egocentric father for the first time. He is also living with his grandmother, who switches from crabby to cruel as quickly as she alternates smoking a cigarette and gulping fresh air from her oxygen machine. Readers will sympathize with Joey as his father rationalizes drinking, throws out Joey's medicine, and continually disappoints him. But none of these situations take away Joey's original retorts and comical, unique solutions to problems. Joey's biggest improvement may be his knowledge of self and how he applies it to better control his life. His wisdom and experience with failure show when he sizes up his grandmother. He knows she will always be her two selvesone nice and funny, and the other mean and scary. She will not change because she never feels that anything she does is wrong. All the changing is up to Joey, who says, "That was okay because I knew I could be wrong most of the time." Gantos' writing excellence shows in the way he allows the reader to draw conclusions, while Joey only experiences situations. Gantos still gives us what we love best about Joeyneither medicine nor a bad situation can take away his comic responses. This artist has created a satisfying follow-up. 2000, Farrar, $16.00. Ages 10 up. Reviewer: Susie Wilde
In this sequel to Joey Pigza Swallowed the Key (Farrar Straus Giroux, 1998/VOYA February 1999), Joey begins his visit with his father on a relatively even keel because of the medication he takes to treat his attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). It is not, however, an easy father-and-son reunion, as Carter Pigza is an adult version of the non-medicated Joey, so wired that "a humming sound [comes] out of his body." Joey pitches for the baseball team that his father coaches, and Carter has plans for a winning season. Joey handles the demanding role of being the hotshot pitcher-son of the coach until Carter decides that Joey is a normal kid who does not need "crutches" and flushes Joey's medicine down the toilet. Although he wants to believe in his father, Joey knows that it will not be long before the old wired Joey comes back. The reader is drawn into Joey's struggle for self-control while his medication wears off and as his father's behavior becomes more erratic with the increased consumption of alcohol. Through Joey's narration, Gantos brilliantly portrays the often-manic pace of an ADHD mind, but he alleviates the tension with touches of humor. Joey accidentally pierces his Chihuahua Pablo's ear with a wayward dart and wants to put an earring in the hole. His mother is not amused, although the reader cannot help but smile at Joey's antics. Joey is a young teen struggling to maintain control in an often out-of-control world, a struggle with which many teens will relate. Gantos's style of writing and the subject matter make this book a great middle school read-aloud. VOYA CODES: 5Q 5P M J (Hard to imagine it being any better written; Every YA (who reads) was dying to readit yesterday; Middle School, defined as grades 6 to 8; Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9). 2000, Farrar Straus Giroux, 196p. Ages 12 to 15. Reviewer: Ruth Cox VOYA, February 2001 (Vol. 23, No.6)
School Library Journal
Gr 5-8-In Patricia Reilly Giff's young adult novel (Delacorte, 2000) set in 1845 at the beginning of the Potato Famine, 12-year-old Nory Ryan is a strong young Irish girl. Hearing Nory's story recounted in actress Susan Lynch's lilting Irish accent brings the time and place alive. Nory's story is not a happy one, but listeners will be drawn into her moving tale and want to find out if Nory and her family will get through each long, hungry day in Maidin Bay and make it to Brooklyn, New York, where "no one was hungry." The two English characters in the story--Lord Cunningham, the landlord, and his agent, Devlin--are presented as unfeeling and heartless. The Irish are presented as both good and bad, willing to give up their last coin and not adverse to stealing someone's last coin. This period in Irish history is realistically recreated for listeners.-Suzanne Libra, Huron Middle School, Northglenn, CO Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
As if Joey didn't get into enough trouble in his unforgettable debut, Joey Pigza Swallowed the Key (1998), Gantos has him wig out again in this sad, scary, blackly funny sequel. His hyperactivity under control thanks to new meds, Joey is looking forward to a six-week stay with his father Carter, hoping for some bonding. Unfortunately, his mother's warning: ". . . he can be, you know, wired like you, only he's bigger." understates the case. As a father, not to say a human being, Carter turns out to be appallingly dysfunctional: irresponsible, utterly self-centered, domineering, callous, and ominously short-fused. Smart enough to see through his father's loud assertions that he's turned over a new leaf, Joey nonetheless struggles to please, even when Carter flushes Joey's medication down the toilet, insisting that real men only need willpower to solve their personal problems. Joey tries to tough it out, hoping (despite bitter experience) that this time he won't go spinning off. Swept along by Joey's breathless narrative, readers will share his horrified fascination as, bit by bit, he watches the bad old habits and behavior come back. Joey's emphysemic Grandma, alternating drags on a cigarette with whiffs of oxygen as she trundles about the neighborhood in a shopping cart, and his Chihuahua Pablo, who survives both being locked in a glove compartment and having his ear pierced by a dart, provide the closest thing to comic relief here. The situation takes a dangerous turn when Joey eggs Carter into a wild rage; fortunately, his mother is just a phone call away, waiting in the wings to bail him out. Carter is truly frightening, a vision ofwhatJoey could grow up to be, did he not possess the inner honesty to acknowledge his limitations (eventually), and caring adults to help him. A tragic tale in many ways, but a triumph too. (Fiction. 11-13)
Read an Excerpt
Mom was disappearing down the road and Dad was shifting around in front of me with his arms and legs crossing back and forth like he was sharpening knives. He was wired. No doubt about it. When I looked in a mirror I could see it in my eyes, and now I could see it in his. Even with my medicine working real good, I felt nervous inside he was so jumpy. Now I knew what Mom meant when she said he was like me, only bigger. He was taller than me too. He had long arms and pointy elbows and a humming sound came out of his body as if he was run by an electric motor. I took a deep breath and even though my insides were churning I was determined to stand there and be as stiff as the rusted-up Tin Man from The Wizard of Oz.
"Well, Joey," Dad said with a grin rocking back and forth on his face like a canoe on high seas, "you can call me Carter." And he stuck out his hand to shake.