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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Joey Pigza Swallowed the Key, by Jack Gantos, is an entertaining, sympathetic, and accurate depiction of a child with ADHD. HIs mother's alcoholism figures in the story. Sequels are Joey Pigza Loses Control, What Would Joey Do?, I Am Not Joey Pigza, and the series finale, The Key That Swallowed Joey Pigza.
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What's the story?
Joey whirls through life like the Tasmanian Devil, his body's uncontrollable impulses running far ahead of his ability to control them. This sympathetic but realistic portrait of a child with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) helps children and adults understand the syndrome better.
Is it any good?
Told in the first person, the harrowing but ultimately hopeful story of JOEY PIGZA SWALLOWED THE KEY doesn't pull any punches when it comes to Joey's behavior. Even for the reader who knows what's going on inside Joey, this is a hard kid to like. Nonetheless, author Jack Gantos succeeds in making him sympathetic and bringing out his inherent goodness. The teachers, the principal, and even his alcoholic mother all are portrayed as kind -- if worn out -- people who are doing the best they can.
Though much of the story is realistic, in the end the solutions come a bit too easily. And given that medicating children with this syndrome is controversial, some readers may be bothered that the solution is almost entirely a matter of giving Joey the right medication. This novel, one of the best about this common disorder, will be interesting to most children and adults.
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