Joey Pigza Swallowed the Key

Joey Pigza Swallowed the Key

by Jack Gantos


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781250061683
Publisher: Square Fish
Publication date: 07/01/2014
Series: Joey Pigza Series , #1
Edition description: Reissue
Pages: 176
Sales rank: 30,716
Product dimensions: 5.20(w) x 7.50(h) x 0.50(d)
Age Range: 10 - 14 Years

About the Author

Jack Gantos has written books for people of all ages, from picture books and middle-grade fiction to novels for young adults and adults. His works include Hole in My Life, a memoir that won the Michael L. Printz and Robert F. Sibert Honors; the Joey Pigza series, which include a Newbery Honor book and a National Book Award Finalist; Dead End in Norvelt, winner of the Newbery Medal and the Scott O'Dell Award for Historical Fiction; and the Rotten Ralph series.

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

Off the Wall

At school they say I'm wired bad, or wired mad, or wired sad, or wired glad, depending on my mood and what teacher has ended up with me. But there is no doubt about it, I'm wired.

This year was no different. When I started out all the days there looked about the same. In the morning I'd be okay and follow along in class. But after lunch, when my meds had worn down, it was nothing but trouble for me.

One day, we were doing math drills in class and every time Mrs. Maxy asked a question, like "What's nine times nine?" I'd raise my hand because I'm really quick at math. But each time she called on me, even though I knew the answer, I'd just blurt out, "Can I get back to you on that?" Then I'd nearly fall out of my chair from laughing. And she'd give me that white-lipped look which meant, "Settle down." But I didn't and kept raising my hand each time she asked a question until finally no other kid would raise their hand because they knew what was coming between me and Mrs. Maxy.

"Okay, Joey," she'd say, calling on me and staring hard at my face as if her eyes were long fingers that could grip me by the chin. I'd stare right back and hesitate a second as if I was planning to answer the question and then I'd holler out really loud, "Can I get back to you on that?" Finally, after a bunch of times of me doing that in a row, she jerked her thumb toward the door. "Out in the hall," she said. And the class cracked up.

So I went and stood in the hall for about a second until I remembered the mini-Superball in my pocket and started to bounce it off the lockers and ceiling and after Mrs. Deebs in the nextclass stuck her head out her door and yelled, "Hey, cut the racket," like she was yelling at a stray cat, I remembered something I wanted to try. I had seen the Tasmanian Devil on TV whirling around like a top so I unbuckled my belt and pulled on the end really hard, as if I was trying to start a lawn mower. But that didn't get me spinning very fast. So I took out my high-top shoelaces and tied them together and then to the belt and wrapped it all around my waist. Then I grabbed one end and yanked on it and sort of got myself spinning. I kept doing it until I got better and better and before long I was bouncing off the lockers because I was dizzy too. Then I gave myself one more really good pull on the belt and because I was already dizzy I got going really fast and began to snort and grunt like the Tasmanian Devil until Mrs. Maxy came out and clamped her hands down on my shoulders. She stopped me so fast I spun right out of my shoes and they went shooting up the hall.

"You glue your feet to the floor for five whole minutes or you can just spin yourself down to the principal's office," she said. "Now, what is your choice going to be?"

"Can I get back to you on that?" I asked.

Her face turned all red. "Five minutes," she said. "Settle down for five, and you can rejoin the class."

I nodded, and when she was gone I wrapped the belt and laces around my middle and gave it a good tug and began to spin and spin and slam into the lockers and I got going so good the gum I had under my tongue flew out and my Superball slipped out of my hand and went bouncing down the hall and I kept going and going like when you roll down a steep hill and before long I was bumping on the glass walls around the principal's office like a dizzy fish in a tank. Then the principal came out and pinned me against the wall and we had a little talk about my behavior goals and I spent the rest of the day on her office floor sorting out all the used crayons that the kindergartners kept in big plastic tubs until I had separate piles of blue and green and red and yellow and you know the rest.

Table of Contents


Chapter 1 - Off the Wall,
Chapter 2 - Family Tree,
Chapter 3 - Handful,
Chapter 4 - Go Fish,
Chapter 5 - Make A Wish,
Chapter 6 - Who?,
Chapter 7 - Gifted and Talented,
Chapter 8 - Suspended,
Chapter 9 - Bad Seed,
Chapter 10 - The Crossing,
Chapter 11 - Shifting Gears,
Chapter 12 - Pittsburgh,
Chapter 13 - Moon Man,
Chapter 14 - The Patch,
Chapter 15 - Picture Me Here,
A Note from the Author,
Gofish - Questions for the Author,
Preview: Loses Control,
Read All Four Joey Pigza Books!,
The Jack Henry Adventures,
The Norvelt Novels,

Customer Reviews

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Joey Pigza Swallowed the Key 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 196 reviews.
Mike-n-Ike More than 1 year ago
Joey Pigza is a bright 10-year-old boy that looks like you and me. But everything starts when his grandma was born. Though out his family they had problems with alcohol and when his dad runs away Joey is left with his crazed up grandma. His grandma doesn't help with his problem. And when his meds don't work Joey is out of the ordinary. From swallowing his house key to sharpening his finger in a pencil sharpener will his determined mom and loving teacher help Joey get better? I would recommend this book for ages 8-99. It's a book for everyone and when you pick it up you pick it up you won't put it down. From the odd and interesting story line to the author's descriptive language obviously out of 5 stars this is a 5 star book. And if Joey Pigza Swallowed the Key isn't enough for you then you should pickup the next book Joey Pigza Loses Control to read more about the crazed up life of Joey Pigza.
MrsJF More than 1 year ago
This is an amazing book that puts you in the mind of a child struggling with ADHD. His struggles and the responses of those around us teach a lesson that I think could be great for all ages. Plus the added bonus that it is a really fun read!!!!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Recently, I read Joey Pigza Swallowed the key. It was a very exciting book.Wether Joey is swallowing his house key and throwing up or cutting off Maria Dombrowski's nose and getting suspended,he is always up to something.One of my favorite parts is where joey eats a whole molasas pie and he jumps off the rafters of an Amish barn on a field trip and jumps into the haystacks and hurts his ankle and blames his 'dud' mediceine because he is A.D./H.D..He is sent to a hospital for radioliogy.His Dad and grandma ran off to Pittsburgh (n or he thinks). Overall give this book two stars because it could be boring but it sucked you into it.I recommend this book for young readers-a 6th grader
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a funny book i cant believe he swallowed a key for a buck hilarious
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The writing is good and joey is AWESOME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love all the description. Its funny and u can really relate
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It was gross but funny and yet i like it!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Good but i never heard of someone cutting off a nose and btw i will blab until this characters run out iam flabby gabby that blabbys i love blabbing until the world ends any way about the book its great stupendous its funny its the bst book i have read in ages its also the funniest it was sooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo funny i was laughing and saying COOL instead of ewwwwwww and by the way like i said before the author made a mistake i forgot the page but on one of the pages i made a note saying that its not accidents its accident but oh well it may not even bea mistake im the one making the mistake but jack gantos is soo funny and descriptive mabe a little to descriptve like im being with this comment of mine more than two thousand characters left so i better keep writing and like in the ¿ber LONG and i mean LONG titlw the book was soooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooopooooo ¿ber funny like ¿berduper¿uper funny this is like a chat room lol five stars for this ¿berduper¿uperfunny nook lol i mean book isent that funny i saidd nook when i ment book and it was while i was using the nook so how are you people doing u may think im crazy for posting a long cooment but im done now but so i can use up my charcters im putting soo very long teehee sooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo d
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Good word choice,and creates a clear pictute in my mind of what's happening.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I like this book. I thought the book was written well
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I like it because it could happen in real life
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
He has adhd like me
Janet Horan More than 1 year ago
I think this book can relate to a lot of people with ADHD cause i have ADHD and i thout (sorry i forgot how to spell) i could relate to him a lot.
KatyaS More than 1 year ago
It usually takes a lot of begging to get my son to read and with this book we did not have to beg. He would read a chapter and then tell us something funny in it. He really enjoyed reading it.
dominirose on LibraryThing 5 months ago
Wish I had read this last year when Joey Pigza was a student of mine. Thank you fiction.
marciaskidslit on LibraryThing 5 months ago
This book teaches children that having an illness such as ADHD does not make them bad; they are good kids with good hearts. These children need help from adults, parents and teachers, and through regulated medications, these children can lead a normal functioning life, at home and at school. The book also teaches non-ADHD children what the illness is about and why some children are ¿wired¿ and can¿t behave in school or at home. This is an excellent example of a children¿s realistic fiction book that deals with a real problem¿ADHD. There are many children with developmental and learning disabilities. The characterization of Joey is well done. He is convincing real and life-like and could easily be a child¿s classmate or next door neighbor. The book is a 1999 Notable Book from the ALSC.
farfromkansas on LibraryThing 5 months ago
Joey Pigza Swallowed the Key, by Jack Gantos, is an unflinching look inside the world of a child with ADHD. Joey is an out-of-control kid who just can¿t seem to get his act together, much to the dismay of his teachers, classmates, and family. Without a strong parental figure at home and without the right medication, it¿s no wonder that Joey is a destructive whirlwind of a boy. However, Gantos helps the reader to understand and sympathize with Joey, a truly remarkable accomplishment for a protagonist of Joey¿s nature.Over the course of the novel, we see Joey Pigza¿s behavior in all its ugly glory: he chops off the tip of a classmate¿s nose, climbs the rafters of an Amish barn, and (of course) swallows his house key¿ which is returned to him later in the expected, defecating fashion. Of course, Joey isn¿t entirely to blame for his behavior: early on in the novel, Gantos explains that Joey¿s father abandoned the family long ago, his grandmother is even crazier than he is, and his long-absent mother has just returned to his life. Gantos even hints that Joey¿s ADHD is a result of Joey¿s mother drinking too much during her pregnancy. With family like this, it¿s no wonder that poor Joey is such a mess!Gantos¿s stream-of-consciousness narration cleverly recreates the ADHD within Joey¿s brain, and helps the reader to identify with behavior that otherwise seems outlandish and unrealistic. Of course, we all know children like Joey: kids who simply lack the self-control to maintain basic, ¿normal¿ behavior. There is a kid like Joey in every classroom, albeit sometimes with better medication and self-control than others. Joey Pigza Swallowed the Key will help readers to sympathize with each ¿Joey¿ encountered in life, and will (hopefully) humanize real individuals with such disabilities. This is an incredible book with a powerful message, and it will undoubtedly help children develop tolerance and understanding for others.Citation:Gantos, Jack. Joey Pigza Swallowed the Key. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1998. Print.
alebarbu on LibraryThing 5 months ago
Joey Pigza has a bad case of ADHD. He is taking medications, but they do not work very well. After he has been living with his not-very-kind grandmother for several years, his mother finally returns to take care of him. Joey constantly gets in trouble at school because he loses control of himself, and starts behaving in ways that can be dangerous to him (such as sticking his finger in the pencil sharpener, or walking on a beam at the top of a barn during a field trip), and to others (he cuts off the tip of one of his classmates¿ nose). He ends up being sent to a special education center in order to help him gain better control of his life. Thanks to the structure of that school, the caring attention of a teacher, and new medication, he does get better by the end of the book, and is allowed to return to his original school. This book accurately portrays the struggles and shifting emotions that a child suffering from ADHD might go through. The anguish and guilt caused by seeing oneself do things uncontrollably when one wants to behave well is well conveyed. The first-person narrative puts the reader in Joey¿s shoes, and we almost feel ourselves spinning out of control when he does. Joey is an endearing little kid, and after being taken for a wild rollercoaster ride along with Joey, the reader really feels for him, and wants him to succeed in his quest to get better. This is definitely a book that would interest children with ADHD as well as their parents and teachers. Grade 5 and up.
skeeterbo on LibraryThing 5 months ago
It was awesome and hilarious. I loved the part when Joey pooped the key out. There were alot of other funny parts.
edtech5 on LibraryThing 5 months ago
Gantos, J., (1998). Joey pigza swallowed the key. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux."Joey Pigza," is a realistic fiction book about a boy with ADHD. It is written in a way that is believable, and it gives much insight into the mind of a child with ADHD. The reader can gain a greater understanding of what a child might be thinking before, during, and after their actions. Joey has had a tough go of it, but he believes that he is a good kid, and he never means to do the things he does. The reader can totally sympathize with his character, and for someone who doesn't understand what a child with ADHD goes through, this book can certainly clear up any questions. Although the story was written over 10 years ago, the subject is contemporary and universal. It can also be a controversial topic, and Gantos deals with this issue carefully and respectfully. It is not only an excellent book to help other children that might have come into contact with friends in school, or even relatives with this condition, but it is also excellent read for adults.
smohri on LibraryThing 5 months ago
I don't know if I would have categorized this as humor, but I found it on a list in the Nilsen text for books that will make readers smile. I did smile and laugh, but somewhat guiltily. I thought Jack Gantos did a great job of describing the "wired" feeling that ADHD children probably feel and how an innocent act of curiosity can appear to be destructive. When Joey sticks all the band aids on his body, you as the reader laugh and find it harmless, but at the same time when his mother and doctor see it you understand their frustration and misunderstanding. I liked that there wasn't really a villain in this story. You know that Joey has been bullied, but the people close to him really do have his best interests in mind. I think the strongest part of this book was that Gantos got you to look at one situation from several perspectives and realize that no one was really in the wrong. This was a fun and easy read. I think it is great for anyone who is curious about what it might be like to have ADHD or for anyone who just likes to read about good kids who get into trouble.
Ctorm on LibraryThing 5 months ago
4Q 3PJoey Pigza is a young boy dealing with the return of his long absent mother and struggling with severe ADHD. While some of his outbursts and mishaps are comical and will make readers laugh, other moments are jarring and reveal the great difficulties the disorder creates. An enriching book that informs as it entertains.
GEAUXTIGERS on LibraryThing 5 months ago
this book is about this kid names joey pigza and he has ADHD and he is having problems at school he cuts one of the girl nose off,he swallows a key and has to be sent to the nurse and also when he cut that girls nose off he had to go to a special school for special kids he only had to stay their for a little while but he learned how to control tha but he had to get new medicine so he went to a different state to wa special doctor to get the right medicine because the other wasnt working very well for him and all i have to say about this book is that it is awesome and that it would be a great book for someone in 6th grade!!! my favorite book ever
Tylerballer5 on LibraryThing 5 months ago
I really liked this book because it was very funny and i would recommend this boook for anyone one who likes historical fiction.joey is a kid that has some problems who cant stay still or anything and who gets in trouble alot for that.Also my favorite part in this book is when he swallowes this key and he went to the nurses office and she gives him a choice of going to the doctor or her give him some medcine and let nature take its course...... To find out what he picks read Joey Pigza swallowed th key.
MaryC22 on LibraryThing 5 months ago
Gantos does a great job sharing the story of Joey, a young boy with ADD and a big heart. Opens the door to understanding some of the children you may have run into during your life. You will laugh cry and cheer for Joey.