Parents' Guide to

The Key That Swallowed Joey Pigza

By Kate Pavao, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 11+

Joey tries to heal his family in emotional series finale.

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Our review:
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The outrageous characters make this book a highly creative, entertaining story. There's Joey's angry, blind girlfriend; his father, who's trying to heal his botched face-lift; and Joey himself, who eats nothing but pizza and marches to school "with my head thrown back and arms pumping up and down like I was the conductor of an All-Star All-Roach marching band." But be warned: For a thin, kooky book, The Key That Swallowed Joey Pigza packs an emotional wallop.

Readers may be shocked by the terrible things his parents tell him ("I already ruined you," his mother says. "Inside your head is a ticking time bomb") and feel deep empathy for poor Joey when he curls up in the crib his father prepared for his baby brother and begins sucking his thumb. In the end, readers will cheer for Joey and his hard-won fight to put together his highly imperfect family -- and stand up for himself.

Book Details

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