All parent member reviews for Joey Pigza Swallowed the Key

Parents say

(out of 7 reviews)
age 12+
Review this title!
Parent Written byCBarr February 27, 2012

Language issue not shown in the initial review.

My daughter who is 13 chose not to read it. The language bothered her. I did not read the book myself.
What other families should know
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Parent of a 15 year old Written bytameshwar March 17, 2009
Educator and Parent Written byCommonSenseChristian May 8, 2015

Good, But May Have You Swallowing Some Protests

Life has never been easy for grade-schooler Joey Pigza. His dad left when he was in kindergarten and Mom went after him, leaving Joey with his sometimes-abusive grandma and a lot of personal angst. To wit, Joey is wired--wired bad, mad, sad, or glad, depending on his mood, his teacher, and other factors. He bounces around the hallways like a superball, gets in trouble for making jokes in class instead of answering questions, and even swallows his house key (by accident). Joey is a realistic and heart-wrenching portrait of a kid with ADHD, and readers will be able to relate to him, either because they're like him or know someone who is. For all his troubles, Joey is a funny, resilient kid. The major problem here is how his ADHD is treated--or not. Joey is never trusted to behave well even when he shows the desire to do so. He's sent to special ed--an isolated basement room where all the other students have severe behavioral issues and communication disabilities--and it's treated like a punishment. He's denied participation in a key part of a field trip, then disciplined for expressing that he's upset over it. Joey's mother and grandma are both irresponsible and can be abusive; Grandma threatens to lock the kid in the fridge. It's a tough book to read for adults, so kids may have qualms as well. For mature kids who show a lot of empathy though, this is a good starting point for discussing ADD/ADHD.
What other families should know
Educational value
Great role models
Parent Written bylauriklark November 16, 2014

Inappropriate for elm age children

Stereotyping of ADHD spectrum disorders. Dysfunctional and alcoholic care givers. Young children will likely be very confused or even scared by the messages in this book. Even worse read for children struggling with ADHD as the main character and those around him constantly find him outside of normal. Sad.
What other families should know
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Parent Written bymama2011 November 24, 2013


I honestly think this is one of the worst books I have ever read. My 3rd grader brought this home from her school library (recommended by her librarian) and the book talks about a boy with ADHD and his mother who is an alcoholic , his grandmother his verbally abusive to him and a school who that doesn't understand his limitations and he is constantly made to feel like a bad kid. This content is highly inappropriate for kids under 12 and maybe even older. Also, my child is ADHD, and she is a kind, loving human being. She does not need to read anything that would shed such a bad light on something that this simply one part of her. I would not recommend this book to anyone. If your child does read it, make sure you read it too!
What other families should know
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Parent of a 2, 4, 8, and 10 year old Written bysinless1 July 24, 2009

Read this book WITH your kids, and discuss!

I loved this book. Great material for discussing behavior, consequences, and attitude with young people. I would not let my kids read it without discussion, This book doesn't offer moral judgments about pharmaceuticals, ADHD, personal responsibility, chemical imbalances, etc. It just paints a powerful picture, from a kid's perspective, of what a kid feels. The cruelty from other kids, the low self worth, coping with caregivers who may have their own shortcomings, etc. I believe pharmaceuticals (psychotropic drugs) are WAY over-prescribed, and that the whole psychiatric establishment is prone to corruption by big pharma, and values treatment over recovery. Nevertheless, this book tends to portray the industry in a positive light, and reminds me that for all its shortcomings many people are truly helped. Great fodder for getting kids to think about consequences, other people's feelings, judging others, making a difference in the world, and coping with life's challenges. I recommend - but only if you read it, too, and discuss.
Adult Written byvraikens April 9, 2008

Great Book for 9th Graders

A lot of kids I know really enjoy reading this book because the protagonist is someone who feels the same way they do...They are so used to people getting fed up with them and saying things like, "why can't you just sit still for a while?" Here is a protagonist who has to hold on to his chair until his knuckles turn white or he may just explode out of his chair and hit the ceiling. A believable story of a young man who consistantly tries to do the "right thing" though the right thing, just like in real life, doesn't always go as planned.