A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
This moral dilemma of a young boy trying to do what he feels is right despite peer pressure is dealt with quite deftly.
Positive Role Models
Palmer and his friends engage in a wide variety of thuggish behavior
toward both children and adults, including tormenting a second-grade
girl, breaking into Palmer's house, and nailing a dead muskrat to a
neighbor's door. The gang threatens to kill Palmer's pigeon and
suggests violent acts toward him. Young boys participate in a wringer
training session where they pretend to strangle a bird by twisting a
Violence & Scariness
Descriptions of how to wring the necks of pigeons, shooting birds as they're released from a cage, and wounded birds falling out of the sky, flopping aimlessly about on the ground.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that readers will be hooked from the beginning to the story's suspenseful climax.
Is It Any Good?
Reminiscent of Shirley Jackson's The Lottery, WRINGER is a mesmerizing morality tale about a gruesome town-unifying event and a boy who cannot make sense of it. The dread is pervasive from the first page, the casual cruelty of almost everyone around Palmer -- adult and child -- is frightening, and the rush of events sweeps the reader along just as it does Palmer.
Palmer struggles for bit to try to fit in, but the wild pigeon changes all that. Jerry Spinelli skillfully blends in bits of comic relief, like Palmer anxiously pacing back and forth as Nipper mimics and struts behind. This has the effect of making Nipper so charming, in a pigeon sort of way, that the reader is as frightened for him as Palmer is. Even the parallel of Palmer's secret friendship with Dorothy creates a sense of anguish and insecurity.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.