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4.8 53
by Ben Mikaelsen

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In 1922, at the age of two, Petey's distraught parents commit him to the state's insane asylum, unaware that their son is actually suffering from severe cerebral palsy. Bound by his wheelchair and struggling to communicate with the people around him, Petey finds a way to remain kind and generous despite the horrific conditions in his new "home." Through the decades


In 1922, at the age of two, Petey's distraught parents commit him to the state's insane asylum, unaware that their son is actually suffering from severe cerebral palsy. Bound by his wheelchair and struggling to communicate with the people around him, Petey finds a way to remain kind and generous despite the horrific conditions in his new "home." Through the decades, he befriends several caretakers but is heartbroken when each eventually leaves him. Determined not to be hurt again, he vows to no longer let hope of lifelong friends and family torment him.

That changes after he is moved into a nursing home and meets a young teen named Trevor Ladd; he sees something in the boy and decides to risk friendship one last time. Trevor, new to town and a bit of a loner, is at first weary of the old man in the wheelchair. But after hearing more of his story, Trevor learns that there is much more to Petey than meets the eye.

Petey is a touching story of friendship, discovery, and the uplifting power of the human spirit.

Editorial Reviews

VOYA - Joyce Sparrow
At his birth in 1920, two-year-old Petey Corbin is diagnosed as an "idiot" and is admitted to Warm Springs Insane Asylum in Warm Springs, Montana. The story that follows shows the relationships Petey forms with his caregivers, until he is seventy years old and living in the Bozeman Nursing Home. Trevor Ladd is an eighth grade student who has yet to make friends at his new school. On his walk home from class one day, Trevor sees the school bullies throwing snowballs at an old man in a wheelchair outside the nursing home. The old man is Petey, whose cerebral palsy was misdiagnosed so many years ago. Trevor protects Petey and, with the assistance of Petey's nurse, Sissy, the two become friends. Trevor takes Petey fishing at a local dock and shopping at K-Mart. Frustrated pushing Petey's dilapidated wheelchair, Trevor begins a fund raising campaign to collect money to purchase a new one. The townspeople, including Trevor's workaholic parents, find it difficult to understand the bond between this old man with a twisted body and limited speaking capabilities and the lonely but dedicated preteen. The friendship the two enjoy, including Petey's reunion with his friend Calvin and former caregiver Owen, is a story that both adults and students will enjoy. An author's note is included to explain how cerebral palsy was misdiagnosed early in the century. This sensitive story is recommended reading for adults and students alike. Adults will enjoy the book because it shows positive interaction between a disabled, disfigured older man and a preteen. Students will find the novel easy to follow because of its episodic nature, showing Petey's emotional growth as he is involved with each caregiver. The quality of the writing adds to the story without making it unnecessarily challenging, and will be enjoyed by students with varieties of reading levels. VOYA Codes: 4Q 4P M J (Better than most, marred only by occasional lapses, Broad general YA appeal, Middle School-defined as grades 6 to 8 and Junior High-defined as grades 7 to 9).
Children's Literature - Catherine Petrini
Petey, a cerebral palsy patient who lives in an institution, cannot walk, talk, or take care of himself. More tragically, the intelligent child is misdiagnosed as mentally impaired, with no capacity for thought. Calvin is a clubfooted boy whose depression is mistaken for mental deficiency. The two become fast friends, and with Calvin's help, Petey learns to communicate in his own unique way. The boys grow to adulthood together. When the two are sent to different facilities, Petey's heart is broken. Years later, he finds someone to take Calvin's place-a lonely teenage boy named Trevor. Trevor's friendship gives Petey another chance at life, but what Petey gives to Trevor is even more remarkable. Ben Mikaelsen's novel is the story of Petey's lifelong struggle to overcome barriers that seem insurmountable, and of the people whose lives he touches. Mikaelsen's prose is a bit pretentious at first, but as he warms to his subject, so do his words. Regardless, Petey's courage and spirit are engaging enough to pull any reader through to the book's tearful but satisfying conclusion.
School Library Journal
Gr 7 Up-This ambitious book succeeds on a number of levels. It is based on a true, tragic situation in which Petey, born with cerebral palsy in 1920, is misdiagnosed as mentally retarded. Unable to care for him at home, his parents relinquish him to the care of the state, where he languishes in a mental institution for the next five decades. Step by institutional step, readers see how this tragedy could happen. More importantly, readers feel Petey's pain, boredom, hope, fear, and occasional joy. A handful of people grow to know and love him over the course of his long and mostly difficult life, but few are able to effect much change. In 1977, statewide reorganization and a new, correct diagnosis result in Petey being moved to a local nursing home. There, the final, triumphant chapters of his life are entwined with an eighth-grade student named Trevor, who finds his own life transformed by love and caring in ways he never could have imagined. Mikaelsen successfully conveys Petey's strangled attempts to communicate. He captures the slow passage of time, the historical landscape encompassed. He brings emotions to the surface and tears to readers' eyes as time and again Petey suffers the loss of friends he has grown to love. Yet, this book is much more than a tearjerker. Its messages-that all people deserve respect; that one person can make a difference; that changing times require new attitudes-transcend simplistic labels. Give this book to anyone who has ever shouted "retard" at another. Give it to any student who "has" to do community service. Give it to anyone who needs a good book to read.-Joel Shoemaker, Southeast Jr. High School, Iowa City, IA
Kirkus Reviews
Born in 1920 with cerebral palsy and dismissed by ignorant doctors as feeble-minded, Petey Corbin spends all but the first two years of his long life institutionalized, his world barely larger than the walls of an asylum ward or, much later, nursing home. Within those walls, further imprisoned in an uncontrollable, atrophied body, he nonetheless experiences joy and love, sorrow, loss, and triumph as intensely as anyone on the outside. Able to communicate only with rudimentary sounds and facial expressions, he makes a series of friends through the years; as a very old man in a 1990s setting, he comes into contact with Trevor, a teenager who defends the old man against a trio of bullies, and remains a loyal companion through his final illness. This is actually two books in one, as with a midstream switch in point-of-view as the story becomes Trevor's, focusing on his inner growth as he overcomes his initial disgust to become Petey's friend. Mikaelsen portrays the places in which Petey is kept in (somewhat) less horrific terms than Kate Seago did in Matthew Unstrung (1998), and surrounds him with good-hearted people (even Petey's parents are drawn sympatheticallyþthey are plunged into poverty during his first two years by the bills his care entails). There are no accusations here, and despite some overly sentimentalized passages, the message comes through that every being deserves care, respect, and a chance to make a difference. (Fiction. 11-13)

Product Details

Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
7.60(w) x 5.20(h) x 0.80(d)
Age Range:
10 - 14 Years

Meet the Author

Ben Mikaelsen is the award-winning author of many books for children, including Petey, Countdown, Rescue Josh McGuire, Stranded, and Sparrow Hawk Red. He lives in Bozeman, Montana.

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Petey (new Cover) 4.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 53 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
when my big sister read in either 5th or 6th grade she was very excited that I had found it for her.

i find it to be very wonderful just because i have cerebral palsy i have something to compare too.

but i certainly am not an idiot and just because someone have a medical problem doesn't make them different.

just like the saying "don't judge a book by it's cover" that also goes with people
Guest More than 1 year ago
I loved this book. It made me cry twice. Ususally I am not interested in books and I had to read this for class. I ended up being hooked. This book is great and it's my favorite. I love petey. My sister is in the same condition so I understand. I think he is actually really cute! I love you Petey! -Samantha
Anonymous 10 months ago
Beautiful story!
224perweek More than 1 year ago
Ok......WOW! I bawled like a baby at the end. I almost did not buy this book at the bookstore. I am soooo glad I did. This book has so much feeling in it, it is bursting through the pages. It will definately be added to my favorites list.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
In the book Petey Ben Mickaelsen really taught you about friendship. This book is one of my favorites now, and I really loved it. I give it five stars!The realationship between Trevor and Petey made me cry! I would recomend this book for everyone. It was an awesome book I will never forget! Hope you check it out!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
like the headline says, words cant describe this book. it is so beautifully written from front cover to back. the book is about a boy growing up with sebrel palsy, and proving the ones who think less of him wrong. the characters are so real I feel like ive met them and know them. just after 2 chapters youll learn to love and care for Petey. so compelling it brings tears from just looking at the cover.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
When I read this book i cried really hard, it is SO sad! It is also very good and it makes you appreciate your life. It surprised me that I liked it, this isn't my usual type of book, but it is one of my favorites. This books really inspired me. This book touched my heart, and I know I will read it many times again in the future!
bookgurl25 More than 1 year ago
in this book, i bawled, bawled and bawled!! it was such a wonderful book. i borrowed it from my favorite teacher and now i want to buy it soooo bad!! i love petey!! hes so cute! this is a WONDERFUL book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is all time great!Our teacher read it to us and we all love it!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I checked the book out at the public library. I have a best friend with cerebral palsy and I never knew he had it until his mom wrote an article in the newspaper about him. I finished the book in just two days and it was very sad at the end of the book it almost made me cry.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This Book was very touching. It showed you what it is like to live with a mental illness. I thought it was good how the author wrote the book and arranged to have all the main characters meet each other. It was very sad and I cried at the end, but even though it is sad, it still leaves you with hope for the main character. Not your average book!
Guest More than 1 year ago
How do you think your life would be if you were trapped in a lifeless body and could only move your head? In the book 'Petey', by Ben Mikaelsen, this is his life. Petey was born with cerebral palsy. His mother left him at the hospital to grow up in mental institutions. It was hard for Petey. He would struggle to communicate with the people around him. He does not understand things like other people do, but he is determined to make a friend. I enjoyed this book a lot, it was very interesting. Petey changed my life forever. Before I read Petey I used to care and be ashamed of what people would say about me. Now, I ignore it and get on with my life, because all that matters to me is what I think of my self. Petey taught me a valuable lesson. I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys friendship, and discovery.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is so heartwarming. any person would love this book! It shows that although we all have difficulties we should let people into our lives to help us with our difficulties.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book will move you. It will make you laugh and cry. You will always remember Petey and think of him as a dear friend you have always known. I love this book and recommend it to everybody. No one should turn down the chance to read this.
Guest More than 1 year ago
In this book ¿Petey¿ it is about a little boy that has cerebral palsy. Cerebral palsy is when your brain is damaged. It occurs during or shortly after birth. After petey was born, his mom and dad sent him to an insane asylum in warm springs, Montana. And from there he stayed there for about a year or two. Then he kept on moving to different places. So finally whenever he stopped moving for awhile he met a kid named Calvin. They were really good friends. And they always hung out and looked out the window because that was about all that petey could do. But Calvin could talk and do all kinds of things be he just couldn¿t walk. Then after they both got older the asylum owner moved them to different places so they didn¿t really see much of each other for around 20 or 30 years. Then during the winter he was outside in his wheelchair and these bullies from a nearby school were throwing snowballs at petey. And petey started making these really weird noises. So this kid named Trevor comes up and defends petey. So they bullies leave and Trevor and petey become friends. So Trevor comes to the hospital where petey is and they hang out and talk and do things together. But some things that Trevor wants to do petey cant do because he is handicapped. So Trevor tries to find something else to do so petey can do it with Trevor. And then Trevor¿s mom and dad are not really good parents so they don¿t really have time to be at home with him and help him or anything. So he spends a lot of time with petey at the hospital. So then petey got older and Trevor was still coming to see him and he is starting to get really sick. so Trevor understands that petey is getting older and Trevor thinks of petey as his grandfather because he always see¿s him and petey is nice to him so Trevor goes and has fun because petey said he could go and have fun without him so Trevor goes and has fun with his family and petey is happy in the hospital.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Petey is a book about a couple that had a child that was born with Cerebral Palsy. This is a disease that a person can think and comprehend things just like everyone else but they are stuck in a deformed body ,and cannot get their body to do what they want. Most cannot talk or walk or move much at all. Petey was lucky he could talk a little but you had to be able to understand it. When Petey was two his parents took him to Warm Springs Insane Asylum were they could take care of Petey. His parents did not have enough money to take care of Petey and their other childeren. When Petey was young he was classified as an idiot when he really wasn¿t. Later in his life all the wonderful people he meant came to realize after a short time that he was no idiot and fought for others to take a second look. Even though Petey was a deformed and helpless man he was always happy. He loved life more then most even though life had not been kind to him. He was a model of how people should live and how they should appreiate what they have. He tries to put out there that there is always a bright side to everything you just have to find it. Go on and read the people that Petey meets, how he changes their lives and how Petey lives his own life. Why I loved this book is because I have a sister that most people look down to when they find out that she is different. She really is different but not in a bad way. If you got to know her you would know what I mean, and this book shows how people come to realize this in Petey. This book shows how people look beyond the diagnous and the deformed body to see that there is a person better then most and that the outside doesn¿t matter.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is about a boy named Petey diagnosed with cerebral palsy. Growing up he has it very tough being raised in an insane asylum and a mental health institute. Through the duration of this book Petey meets several new friends. One by the name of Calvin who is Petey's very best friend as he grows up in the asylum. He faces rough times but always has something that pulls him through whether it is a friend or a gift or anything. Later in this wonderful story he finds out that he was misdiagnosed as a baby and gets moved to Warm Spings when he is an old man. He is united with old friends and makes some new ones. This story is so touching and heartwarming that I couldn't put it down. I definitely reccomend this book to anyone.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was read alound in my class room and it really touched my heart at the end.....the book opend my eyes to how presious and how many troubles life brings uss.This book taought me no matter how different some people are they are one of gods wonderfull creations......