Wringer

Wringer

4.3 174
by Jerry Spinelli, Cliff Nielsen
     
 

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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

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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.

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
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:
03/28/1998
Series:
HarperClassics
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
240
Sales rank:
75,220
Product dimensions:
5.12(w) x 7.62(h) x 0.48(d)
Age Range:
8 - 12 Years

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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