Joey Pigza Swallowed the Key (Joey Pigza Books)

Book 1 of 5 in the Joey Pigza Series
Interest LevelReading LevelReading A-ZATOSWord Count
Grades 4 - 8Grades 4 - 10T4.935620

"They say I'm wired bad, or wired sad, but there's no doubt about it -- I'm wired."

Joey Pigza's got heart, he's got a mom who loves him, and he's got "dud meds," which is what he calls the Ritalin pills that are supposed to even out his wild mood swings. Sometimes Joey makes bad choices. He learns the hard way that he shouldn't stick his finger in the pencil sharpener, or swallow his house key, or run with scissors. Joey ends up bouncing around a lot - and eventually he bounces himself all the way downown, into the district special-ed program, which could be the end of the line. As Joey knows, if he keeps making bad choices, he could just fall between the cracks for good. But he is determined not to let that happen.

In this antic yet poignant new novel, Jack Gantos has perfect pitch in capturing the humor, the off-the-wall intensity, and the serious challenges that life presents to a kid dealing with hyper-activity and related disorders. This title has Common Core connections.

Joey Pigza Swallowed the Key is a 1998 National Book Award Finalist for Young People's Literature.

Hardcover, 160 pages
Published on October 14, 1998 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)
ISBN-10: 0374336644
ISBN-13: 9780374336646
4 Book Reviews
  • mimibell
    mimibellabout 7 years44 stars
    This book is a very serious and emotional story, but does have some humor in it. This book is maybe for older kids (9+) it does have some scary and freaky stuff in the dialogue such as "I might kill Carter (the baby)"
    • jed
      jedover 8 years33 stars
      It is scary and weird. I mean who swallows a key. It is crazy. You woud think it would have hurt to swallow a key.
      • teacher_1703
        Meagan Sterneralmost 10 years
        This book is about a boy who struggles with his own behavior. Some of the things he does are funny and some are hurtful. I like this story because it shows how he learns to understand himself which leads to control of himself.
        • teacher_1703
          Meagan Sterneralmost 10 years
          This book is about a boy who struggles with his own behavior. Some of the things he does are funny and some are hurtful. I like this story because it shows how he learns to understand himself which leads to control of himself.