Wringer

( 171 )

Overview

Palmer LaRue is running out of birthdays. For as long as he can remember, he's dreaded the day he turns ten — the day he'll take his place beside all the other ten-year-old boys in town, the day he'll be a wringer. But Palmer doesn't want to be a wringer. It's one of the first things he learned about himself and it's one of the biggest things he has to hide. In Palmer's town being a wringer is an honor, a tradition passed down from father to son. Palmer can't stop himself from being a wringer just like he can't ...

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Overview

Palmer LaRue is running out of birthdays. For as long as he can remember, he's dreaded the day he turns ten — the day he'll take his place beside all the other ten-year-old boys in town, the day he'll be a wringer. But Palmer doesn't want to be a wringer. It's one of the first things he learned about himself and it's one of the biggest things he has to hide. In Palmer's town being a wringer is an honor, a tradition passed down from father to son. Palmer can't stop himself from being a wringer just like he can't stop himself from growing one year older, just like he can't stand up to a whole town — right? Newbery Medal winner Jerry Spinelli's most powerful novel yet is a gripping tale of how one boy learns how not to be afraid.

As Palmer comes of age, he must either accept the violence of being a wringer at his town's annual Pigeon Day or find the courage to oppose it.

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Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Marilyn Courtot
Palmer is in heaven. He has reached the age of nine and the local gang members have deigned to come to his birthday party. After the "Treatment," Palmer changes and even joins the taunting of his younger neighbor Dorothy. Through it all, Palmer worries about become a Wringer. At the age of ten, boys in the town help out at the pigeon shoot by wringing the necks of the wounded birds. To make matters worse, Palmer befriends a pigeon that becomes his pet. He must keep its presence hidden from the gang and his family. Only Dorothy shares his secret. The story moves at a fast pace and the tension never lets up. Palmer's final epiphany is a welcome relief.
School Library Journal
Gr 4-8When Palmer LaRue turns nine, he becomes one of the guys. Now a member of a popular gang, with the cool nickname of Snots, life is looking very good, except for one thing. He is now only a year away from becoming a wringer, one of the 10-year-old boys who break the necks of wounded birds in the town's annual pigeon shoot. Unlike his pals who can't wait for that privilege, Palmer dreads it. To make matters worse, a stray pigeon shows up at his window, and soon he is feeding and sheltering it in his room. His life becomes a balancing act of hanging out with the guys, who hate pigeons, and attending to his new pet, Nipper, and Palmer is required to go to great lengths to keep the two worlds apart. When he turns 10, and the pigeon shoot rolls around, the boy is forced to take a stand, and eventually has to rescue Nipper from being killed. Spinelli's characters are memorable, convincing, and both endearing and villainous; and they are involved in a plot that, from the first page, is riveting. The story is told in language simple enough for young readers, yet elegant enough for adults. There is humor, suspense, a bird with personality, and a moral dilemma familiar to everyone: how does one stand up for one's beliefs when they will be very unpopular? A wide audience will enjoy this thought-provoking book.Tim Rausch, Crescent View Middle School, Sandy, UT
School Library Journal
Palmer dreads his 10th birthday, when he will become a "wringer," trained to wring the necks of pigeons gunned down in an annual shooting contest. The thought of killing the birds sickens him, as does the bullying behavior of his three buddies. When Palmer makes a pet of a stray pigeon, he struggles to find the courage needed to confront his peers and act according to his conscience. A moral drama sure to engage young readers and promote classroom discussion. A Newbery Honor selection. Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
The ghastliness of a local rite of passage gives this tale of a boy's inner battle between revulsion and his desire to fit in a whiff of Cormier—but with some belly laughs from Spinelli (The Library Card, p. 650, etc.) to lighten the load.

In the popular fund-raiser that caps the town of Waymer's annual, weeklong Family Fest, entrants gun down thousands of live pigeons, while, under the guidance of a "wringmaster," ten-year-old boys are enlisted to break the necks of birds that are only wounded. Even after winning acceptance (and a nickname, "Snots") from neighborhood bully Beans, and learning to join in the relentless harassment of his one-time friend, Dorothy Gruzik, Palmer regards his fast-approaching tenth birthday with dread. Then, like the Ancient Mariner's albatross, a pigeon appears at his bedroom window and moves in, calmly ignoring Palmer's halfhearted efforts to shoo it away. "Nipper" provides comic relief, both in its own behavior, and in Palmer's frantic attempts to conceal it from his parents and from Beans. He finds a—more or less—sympathetic ear in Dorothy, who, after some fence-mending, gives him the support and impetus he needs to make his true feelings known. She even spirits Nipper out of town as Family Fest approaches, but unknowingly leaves the pigeon where it can be captured for the shoot—and the stage is set for a dramatic rescue. A story both comic and disturbing, this is lit by Palmer's growing courage and Dorothy's surprising loyalty.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780064405782
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 3/28/1998
  • Series: HarperClassics
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 240
  • Sales rank: 52,979
  • Age range: 8 - 12 Years
  • Product dimensions: 5.12 (w) x 7.62 (h) x 0.48 (d)

Meet the Author

Jerry Spinelli

Jerry Spinelli received the Newbery Medal for Maniac Magee and a Newbery Honor for Wringer. His other books include Smiles to Go, Loser, Space Station Seventh Grade, Who Put That Hair in My Toothbrush?, Dump Days, and Stargirl. His novels are recognized for their humor and poignancy, and his characters and situations are often drawn from his real-life experience as a father of six children. Jerry lives with his wife, Eileen, also a writer, in Wayne, Pennsylvania.

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Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

He did not want to be a wringer.

This was one of the first things he had learned about himself. He could not have said exactly when he learned it, but it was very early. And more than early, it was deep inside. In the stomach, like hunger.

But different from hunger, different and worse. Because it was always there. Hunger came only sometimes, such as just before dinner or on long rides in the car. Then, quickly, it was gone the moment it was fed. But this thing, there was no way to feed it. Well, one way perhaps, but that was unthinkable. So it was never gone.

In fact, gone was something it could not be, for he could not escape it any more than he could escape himself. The best he could do was forget it. Sometimes he did so, for minutes, hours, maybe even for a day or two.

But this thing did not like to be forgotten. Like air escaping a punctured tire, it would spread out from his stomach and be everywhere. Inside and outside, up and down, day and night, just beyond the foot of his bed, in his sock drawer, on the porch steps, at the edges of the lips of other boys, in the sudden flutter from a bush that he had come too close to. Everywhere.

Just to remind him.

This thing, this not wanting to be a wringer, did it ever knock him from his bike? Untie his sneaker lace? Call him a name? Stand up and fight?

No. It did nothing. It was simply, merely there, a whisper of featherwings, reminding him of the moment he dreaded above all others, the moment when the not wanting to be a wringer would turn to becoming one.

In his dreams the moment had already come. In his dreams he looks down to find hishands around the neck of the pigeon. It feels silky. The pigeon's eye is like a polished shirt button. The pigeon's eye is orange with a smaller black button in the center. It looks up at him. It does not blink. It seems as if the bird is about to speak, but it does not. Only the voices speak: "Wring it! Wring it! Wring it!"

He cannot. He cannot wring it, nor can he let go. He wants to let go, desperately, but his fingers are stone. And the voices chant: "Wring it! Wring it!" and the orange eye stares.

Sometimes he wished it would come after him, chase him, this thing he did not want to be. Then at least he could run from it, he could hide. But the thing never moved. It merely waited. Waited for him to come to it.

And he would. He would come to it as surely as nine follows eight and ten follows nine. He would come to it without having to pedal or run or walk or even move a muscle. He would fall smack into the lap of it without doing anything but breathe. In the end he would get there simply by growing one day older.

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First Chapter

Wringer

Chapter One

He did not want to be a wringer.

This was one of the first things he had learned about himself. He could not have said exactly when he learned it, but it was very early. And more than early, it was deep inside. In the stomach, like hunger.

But different from hunger, different and worse. Because it was always there. Hunger came only sometimes, such as just before dinner or on long rides in the car. Then, quickly, it was gone the moment it was fed. But this thing, there was no way to feed it. Well, one way perhaps, but that was unthinkable. So it was never gone.

In fact, gone was something it could not be, for he could not escape it any more than he could escape himself. The best he could do was forget it. Sometimes he did so, for minutes, hours, maybe even for a day or two.

But this thing did not like to be forgotten. Like air escaping a punctured tire, it would spread out from his stomach and be everywhere. Inside and outside, up and down, day and night, just beyond the foot of his bed, in his sock drawer, on the porch steps, at the edges of the lips of other boys, in the sudden flutter from a bush that he had come too close to. Everywhere.

Just to remind him.

This thing, this not wanting to be a wringer, did it ever knock him from his bike? Untie his sneaker lace? Call him a name? Stand up and fight?

No. It did nothing. It was simply, merely there, a whisper of featherwings, reminding him of the moment he dreaded above all others, the moment when the not wanting to be a wringer would turn to becoming one.

In his dreams the moment had already come. In his dreams he looks down to find his hands around the neck of the pigeon. It feels silky. The pigeon's eye is like a polished shirt button. The pigeon's eye is orange with a smaller black button in the center. It looks up at him. It does not blink. It seems as if the bird is about to speak, but it does not. Only the voices speak: "Wring it! Wring it! Wring it!"

He cannot. He cannot wring it, nor can he let go. He wants to let go, desperately, but his fingers are stone. And the voices chant: "Wring it! Wring it!" and the orange eye stares.

Sometimes he wished it would come after him, chase him, this thing he did not want to be. Then at least he could run from it, he could hide. But the thing never moved. It merely waited. Waited for him to come to it.

And he would. He would come to it as surely as nine follows eight and ten follows nine. He would come to it without having to pedal or run or walk or even move a muscle. He would fall smack into the lap of it without doing anything but breathe. In the end he would get there simply by growing one day older.

Wringer. Copyright © by Jerry Spinelli. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
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Reading Group Guide

Wringer

By Jerry Spinelli

About the Author

Jerry Spinelli is the author of the 1991 Newbery Medal-winning book Maniac Magee. His novels are regularly praised for their humor, poignancy, and realistic characters -- many of whom are drawn from his real-life experience as a father of six children. Jerry lives with his wife, Eileen, who is also a writer, in West Chester, Pennsylvania. He is a graduate of Gettysburg College.

About the Book

Not all birthdays are welcome. In Palmer's home town of Waymer, a boy's tenth birthday is more than just another birthday -- it is considered to be the biggest and most honorable day of his life. When a boy turns ten he has finally earned his place as a wringer at the town's annual Pigeon Day. On this day 5,000 pigeons are released into the sky only to be shot down by the town's men. It is the job of wringers to retrieve dead birds from the field and to wring the wounded birds' necks.

Although all proceeds from Pigeon Day go to pay for the town's park maintenance and he is assured that wringers "humanely" put the dying pigeons to death, Palmer cannot shake the dreadful feeling that he does not want to be a wringer. Unfortunately, '"this not wanting to be a wringer" conflicts directly with eh expectations of his clique of friends -- for them, being a wringer is the highest honor, an honor only a wimp would refuse. Not to be a wringer would mean going against his friends, his family, and the town and risking ostracism.

Palmer's life becomes further complicated when he befriends Nipper, a pigeon who likes to roost in his closet and sit atop his head. Now Palmer hasa very important reason to strike out against his friends and the town's traditional Pigeon Day. In this gripping and thought-provoking novel, Spinelli tells of one boy's courage to overcome peer pressure and unquestioned tradition -- to stand up for what he believes.

Questions for Discussion

  1. "This thing, this not wanting to be a wringer, did it ever knock him from his bike? Untie his sneaker lace? Call him a name? Stand up and fight?" (page 4). Although there is no physical reason why Palmer should refuse to become a wringer, and even though most ten-year-olds in his town consider it an honor, he abhors this tradition. Identify and discuss the reasons why Palmer does not want to be a wringer.
  2. Jerry Spinelli uses powerful descriptive images to evoke the scenes of Pigeon Day, everything from the bright red barbecue sauce on a spectator's lips to the smell of gunsmoke. What does this recurring image of gunsmoke tell us about Palmer's anxiety? What are some other memorable images in the novel and what do they signify?
  3. Do you believe Palmer's father when he tells Palmer "you can thank a pigeon for the swings at the playground" (page 57). Is Pigeon Day and the shooting of 5,000 birds a justified event simply because the proceeds go to pay for the park's maintenance? Can you name any other events where animals are injured or killed for sport and entertainment? Do you feel these events are justified?
  4. Consider Palmer's relationship with Beans, Mutto, and Henry. How does his relationship with them change over the course of the novel? In what ways is Henry different from the rest of the gang? Why does Palmer fear becoming more like Henry?
  5. Dorothy claims that Palmer is a hero in his attempt to save Nipper from the guys and Panther the cat. Discuss the term heroism. What qualities make a hero? Do you feel Palmer is a hero? Palmer's father? Dorothy?
  6. Why does Palmer feel compelled to ignore Dorothy or tease her in public when privately he holds much respect for her? Can you find any similarities between Palmer's friendship with Dorothy and his friendship with Nipper?
  7. Describe how Palmer must feel when he discovers that his father was a champion pigeon sharpshooter. Does this discovery present a new pressure on him to become a wringer?
  8. Palmer eventually defies the gang by shouting: "No nothing! No Treatment! No wringer! No Snots! My name is Palmer!" (p. 179). By refusing to take the abusive Treatment, refusing to be a wringer, and finally, by reclaiming his own name -- the name the guys used to pick on -- what has Palmer proved? How has he broken away from the group?
  9. Compare the different ways in which Palmer and Beans treat animals. Do you think that Beans respects animals? How about Palmer?
  10. Why does Palmer risk his reputation to befriend and care for Nipper? Discuss this question in the context of the following passage: "He thought of the pigeon flying over the snow-covered land, and he felt bad … He thought about somebody else feeding the pigeon, and he felt jealous. Then he felt nervous, realizing he was thinking of it as his pigeon, and what a dangerous thought that could be around here" (page 79).
  11. How does violence play a role in this story? Can you explain why anyone who receives Farquar's abusive and infamous 'Treatment" garners so much respect from the community and why the shooting of pigeons marks a time for celebration? What do you feel Spinelli is trying to show his readers about the nature of violence in society?


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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 171 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(100)

4 Star

(44)

3 Star

(14)

2 Star

(7)

1 Star

(6)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 171 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 24, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    Wringer's #1

    Can a boy have a pet pigeon in a town that hates pigeons, and keep it a secret? Wringer is another phenomenal heartfelt tale by the terrific author of Jerry Spinelli. This book is about a young kid named Palmer who dreads his 10th birthday. Everything is perfect in Palmer's world until one day an unexpected visitor is at his windowsill. Then his life changes for ever. His friends turn on him. His enemy's turn to friends. This amazing, twisting novel is a absolute must read.
    The author, Jerry Spenelli, had great descriptions. When describing Palmer's room or describing a character, he told us about it in such great detail. In one chapter it described bean's yellow, green and red multicolored teeth. In another chapter he described palmer's room with the white bird poop on the floor, the stack of knocked over comics, and a clumsy bird on his desk. One time the author described a dead muskrat in a frozen spaghetti container and the stench of it when heated up and the look on Mrs. Druzik face when she saw it. I liked the way I could clearly understand who, where or when the events happened and I could picture it.
    I liked the friendships in this story in this story between Nipper and Palmer. Although Palmer was a boy and Nipper was a pigeon in a town that hated pigeons their friendship was strong and they protected each other. Nipper came back to Palmer's window no matter what happened, because he trusted that Palmer would protect him. Nipper was almost blown to pieces at Family Fest during Pigeon Day, but Palmer jumped in front of the shooter. Almost everyone would not have a pigeon flying around in their room in a town that is the capitol of pigeons haters and publicize it on a day where you kill them.
    Jerry Spenelli used great detail and made great unique and interesting friendships. He made what a normal author would describe about a park into an amusement park and two complete different animals to seem like there one. This is one of the greatest tales in Jerry Spenelli's collection, you must read this book.

    Darth Vader,
    Chewbacca and Yoda are awsome
    I'm not a hacker

    5 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted January 25, 2011

    good book

    The name of the book that I am writing about is The Wringer. This book is by Jerry Spinelli. This book is a fanicey book. I picked this book because the back of the book sound good to me.
    The Wringer is about a boy named palmer who dose not want to join a compassion that happens every year at the park. A lot of people gather and ages 10-15 year olds shoot pigeons. You must talk a safety class before u can enter the compassion.
    I like this book because I can relate to the main idea of the story. My favor charter was "snots" aka palmer. I liked him because he was not like the others. My favorite part of this story was when the pigeon stats coming to palmer's window. I learn that just because every one else is doing does not mean you have to.
    I liked this book because it had a nice ending and he did not fall in to peer presser. I wood engorge 11-15 year olds to read this book.

    4 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 7, 2012

    Amazing!!!!!

    This book is amazing i reccomend this book to anyone, in fact i reccomend jerry spinelli to anyone!!!!!!!!!!!!! :)

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 4, 2012

    GREAT BOOK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Wringer was a great book! It made me have different emotions in every chapter! I was reading this in fourth grade and loved it! I would reccomend this book to anyone!

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 24, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    The most amazing- WRINGER!

    Boom! The pigeon falls to the ground. The wringer runs out grabs it by the throat, and wrings it. As it takes its last breath, the orange eyes slowly close. This Newberry Honor book Wringer, was. Is humorous, serious, and a heartwarming story. It was written by the famous author Jerry Spinelli. He thought of a unique way to show what a true friendship is about. How a boy and a pigeon become so close, that he changes his friends. His life, and reveals on of his biggest secrets. All to protect a pigeon. Don't skip out on this truly amazing story, once you read the first page you won't want to put the book down.
    One thing I really liked about Wringer was the amazing connection between Palmer and Nipper, his pigeon. I liked how Palmer took Nipper in like he was his brother. Even though everyone in Palmer's town hated pigeons, he cared for him and made sure nothing bad ever happened to him. Palmer made disguises, ditched his friends, and got in trouble, so no one would find out about Nipper. When things happen Palmer realizes that he has to do whats best for the pigeon, not whats best for him. No matter what it is.
    This book had interesting and unique things about it. One of the things that caught my attention was the Treatment. For a 10 year old boy it's the true test for a wringer, but for Palmer it was just pure pain. One of Palmer's friends really wanted the treatment, he hunted down the guy who gave the Treatment on his 10th birthday until he found him. I didn't understand why this Treatment was so important, but it made the story more interesting.
    This book was spectacular! I wish there was a sequel. It was interesting, unique, and I never wanted to put the book down. Jerry Spinelli has written many stories, but none like Wringer. I wanted to keep on reading and predict about the cliff hangers that he left me. That's what made it a two thumbs up, kind of book! That you have to read.

    m0m0x81

    3 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 9, 2012

    Great book

    This is a epic great book! I am reading this book with my class too. Even though,i do like birds,I think shooting and wringing pegioens is NOT cool. But I love this book. And I think you should recmonend this book.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 27, 2011

    School Book!!

    My teacher made my class read this and so far it is sooooo good!!!! But there was some sad parts and funny parts!!! I live this book can not wait to finish!!!!"

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 18, 2011

    One for all to read

    Wringer was a very good book. It is about a boy named Palmer and his tenth birthday party that is coming up. I think Jerry Spinelli did a great job on the book and I hope he keeps on making more for the rest of his life. They are very interesting and I will read them all. This book is one everyone should read.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 12, 2014

    Meaningful

    Very powerful

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 12, 2013

    Love it

    I am reading this book in school and it has approximatly 40 chapters and i am on chapter 15. Lolz

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2013

    Good book

    We read this book in class and it was a good book!

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 14, 2013

    To the people who hate it

    You guys are such idiots. My teacher is reading it to my cass and i and every time there is a... umm i guess very interseting part he would stop and we would all say NO!!!!!! And he would go on. Who ever does not like the book you are crazy!

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 3, 2013

    The best.

    To those who said this book is dumb because it made you cry or "disgusting", it can't be dumb, if a book has the power to make you cry it must be good and all of the things in this book have a meaning. To the person reading this, it is not a waste of money if you like the author, most of his books are written in his style and his style is "odd". If you can get past the title and the grotesque parts you will see the book is about the boy, Palmer, and his life, not pigeons...

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 19, 2012

    Hi

    Best book ever

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 17, 2012

    Question

    Question: if i get this on my nook for eight dollars i have to pay my mom back since her credit card is on here. Is it worth eight dollars??? Thanks!!! -clg040102

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 29, 2012

    Awesome

    I disagree this book is more like realissstic fiction with a little twist of historical diction not fantasy but u peeps who didnt read this bookk should awesome book even if u really love animqls it pretty awesome!!
    U

    Love N03!! Th0mp$0n

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 12, 2012

    Love!!!!

    Good story line really sad

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 9, 2012

    Wringer is ok but do not know what happend

    I think it was good but I had no clue what was going on.I would not recommend this to someone becuase it hurts my head to think whats going on!!!

    1 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 10, 2004

    Wringer

    Wringer by Jerry Spinelli was a book I was very dissapointed in. I was generous in giving the book two stars. The Newbery Honor may have been the only thing keeping me from giving the book only one star. The book did not appeal to me at all and I doubt it would to any of my teenage peers. As a teenager, reading about being accepted in the 9 year-old crew while owning a pet pigeon is not very interesting. The story is about Palmer not wnting to become a wringer at the Family Fest. Ten year-olds can become wringers at the Family Fest in August. During the pigeon shooting contest the wringers go out and wring the necks of the suffering (not yet dead) pigeons. Since Palmer was little he did not like the pigeon shooting contest. His friends, however, have wanted to be wringers for as long as they can remember. Those friends are far from the most admirable of children. Many times Palmer describes Beans (the leader) as the kid with every color of the rainbow on at least one tooth in his mouth. Mutto and Henry are a part of the pack as well. Fitting in seems hard for Palmer, but his troubles compound when he adopts a pet pigeon, Nipper. He shares Nipper with Dorothy Gruzik, perhaps the only nice person in the book who slowly becomes Palmer's best friend. How will Palmer get out of his jam? Who cares?

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 22, 2014

    This

    This book is a must read! I read it in forth grade and it was awsome. I hope everyone enjoys this!

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