The Key That Swallowed Joey Pigza

The Key Swallowed Joey9780374300838_p0_v1_s260x420The Key that Swallowed Joey Pigza

Jack Gantos, Author

Farrar Straus Giroux, Fiction, Sep. 2, 2014

Pages: 154

Suitable for Ages: 10-14

Themes: ADD/ADHD, Family Relationships, Dysfunctional Families

Opening: I’m Joey Pigza and here I am again back in my roachy row house on Plum Street and living my whole wired past, present, and future all at the same time.

Book Jacket Synopsis: Just months after the birth of his baby brother, Carter Junior, everything goes topsy-turvy all over again for wired Joey Pigza. With his dad missing in the wake of appearance-altering plastic surgery, and his mom suddenly absent, Joey has no choice but to become man of the house. For this heroic and hilarious boy, playing dad to little Junior is a challenge that gets harder by the moment, even after an old friend arrives to lend a hand. But then the real man of the house comes out of hiding, and Joey is full of hope that he has found the key to help his shattered family — even though he knows that when it comes to the Pigzas, the future could not be more unpredictable.

What I love about this book:

  • Joey Pigza is back in this fifth and final book of Jack Gantos’ multi-award winning and heart-rendering series. It is filled with the same crazy humor of a boy who faces the toughest challenges ever with his emotionally charged and dysfunctional family. Fans will continue to cheer and love this hero for trying to keep his broken family together.
  • Gantos writes the best first-page openings that hook the reader from the start. He takes them on a complicated journey that is action-packed and engaging. His mother, who’s suffering from postpartum depression, checks herself into a hospital and leaves Joey to care for and protect his baby brother from his hyperactive father, who plots to kidnap Carter Jr.  Readers will keep turning pages until they have finished the book.
  • The characters are memorable. Gantos skillfully gets to the core of each one. Joey shows maturity as he takes his medicine for ADHD,  thinks before he acts, is thoughtful, manages to make the right decisions and be a “pawzzz-i-tive” force for the good of his family. Olivia, “the meanest blind girl in the whole world,” reappears in this story after she is suspended from her blind school. She hides out at the Pigza house — lucky for Joey she has a soft spot for babies. Her presence adds some comic relief.
  • I am completely invested in this series and am thrilled that Gantos brought Joey’s story to an unpredictable and satisfying conclusion. In fact Joey may be the most sane member of the Pigza family. Fans will cheer and love this hero for his triumphant efforts to keep his broken family together. This book may indeed be the darkest in the series.

Resources: Visit Jack Gantos website and download a study guide for The Key that Swallowed Joey Pigza.  You can also check out my earlier review of the other Joey Pigza books in the series.

Kwirky: The Kid Detective with a Different Perspective

Kwirky9781493598663_p0_v3_s260x420Kwirky: The Kid Detective with a Different Perspective

Russell Kane, Author

Sarah Beth Ryder, Illustrator

CreateSpace, Fiction, Oct. 31, 2013

Suitable for Ages: 7-11

Themes: ADHD, Differences, Abilities, Kid detective

Book Jacket Synopsis: Fifth grader Daniel Kwirk is known around Duckworth Elementary School as “Kwirky” because he thinks and acts differently than most kids his age.  His Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) causes him to be a bit clumsy, not pay attention and have way too much energy for certain occasions. But Daniel has so much more to offer than what people give him credit.  He is intelligent, perceptive and always wants to do the right thing. These attributes help Daniel, with the help of his younger sister Hayley, find clues to discover the theft of valuable gold and silver coins at the local Civil War exhibit and help police track down the culprits. Daniel’s unconventional approach to everyday life proves to be extremely useful as only someone with Daniel’s unique perspective could have cracked this case.

Why I like this book:  Russell Kane’s delivers a very positive message about ADHD to his young readers. His book is a fun and quick read. The characters are relatable. The plot is easy to follow. Kane names his character Daniel Kwirk, thus allowing him to use “quirkiness” as a theme that shows Daniel’s strength rather than his inability. Daniel is able to see beyond the obvious facts and demonstrates his talents to his friends, classmates and entire community.  This is a book of celebration of differences and abilities. Sarah Beth Ryder’s illustrations are cartoons that are fun and add to the story.  Readers will cheer for Daniel!

Resources: The author has a “Discussion Questions” at the end of the book for parents and teachers to use in the classroom.

ADHD in HD: Brains Gone Wild

ADHD in HD9781575423869_p0_v1_s260x420ADHD in HD: Brains Gone Wild

Jonathan Chesner, Author

Free Spirit Publishing,  Non-fiction, April 2012

Suitable for: Teens and Young Adults

Themes:  ADHD, Special Brains, Abilities, Relationships with Family and Friends,  School and Homework, Interactions with Co-workers

Opening/Book Jacket Synopsis:  “From an early age, Jonathan knew he had the kind of brain that would wear a Hawaiian shirt, bright red pants, and cool painted shoes to a wedding while most other people’s brains would wear three-piece suits. He also knew that if he learned how to manage the difficulties of ADHD and harness its awesome powers, he would help other “special brains” by sharing this knowledge in a book to slay all other books.

This is that book. If people say you’re always distracted, but you can spend hours zoned in on something you love, this book is for you. And if you’re coping with homework or haters or schedules or meds, this book is definitely for you. Read how to do big things, follow your dreams, and be like Mr. T.”

Why I like this book:  This book stands above anything I have read on the ADHD.  Jonathan Chesner has written one of the most creative, entertaining and inspirational books for teens and young adults with ADHD. The cartoon-like artwork is expressive, bold, outrageous and hilarious. There were times when I laughed until I cried. It is the kind of book I wished I could  have  handed to my daughter when she was a teen. It is so upbeat and uplifting. It focuses on the special brains ADHD kids and all the positive things they can do. No room for negativity in this book – only possibilities. Chesner, who was diagnosed at age 9,  shares his own personal stories of failure and successes. He offers many tips on how to carry out things that don’t come easy. Chesner gives advice about interacting with families and friends, finding the best way to learn at school and complete homework, dating, getting a job, connecting with peers and co-workers, and eating the right diet. Chesner says “that ADHD isn’t all that bad — it can actually be a blessing in disguise.”

Chesner is an actor appearing in commercials and television shows such as Veronica Mars and Bones. While attending college, he turned his off-campus apartment into an art studio/art gallery/surfboard shaping room/T-shirt factory. Major surf companies including Von Zipper and Future Fins have incorporated his conceptual work. You may visit Jonathan Chesner at his website.  View his great video below!

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This book has been provided to me free of charge by the publisher in exchange for an honest review of the work.