Monday, May 2, 2011

Joey Pigza Loses Control

Gantos, Jack. 2000. JOEY PIGZA LOSES CONTROL.  Farrar, Straus and Giroux: New York.  ISBN 9780439338745.
Unabridged Audio:  Read by Jack Gantos

Plot Summary
The lovable, yet severely hyperactive, Joey Pigza gets to spend the summer with his estranged dad.  He learns about Storybook Land, baseball, and his eyes are also open to the reality of addictions.  Grandma's cigarettes and his father's alcoholism parallel Joey's need for hyperactive medication.  However, some dependencies are different from others, and Joey learns this lesson after losing control. 

Critical Analysis
Joey, discovers a lot about himself and subsequently teaches the reader about the reality of his ADHD disorder through Gantos's style of writing and reading.  The nonstop thought processes of Joey are scripted out in the chaotic fashion that a hyperactive child must contend with on a daily basis, and the listener gets a real taste of what it feels like to be wired.  Joey's family are fairly average folks, with the typical quirks ranging from hilarious shopping cart rides with grandma, to the gripping realities of a parent with an addiction.  Joey tried to make it through the the game before he "unraveled at the seams like a baseball that had been smacked around too many times."  Joey's struggles with his dad and his disorder, but he finally finds control and the book manages to teach a lesson about control, acceptance and compassion.   

Awards & Honors
Newberry Honor Book
New York Times Outstanding Book of the Year
ALA Notable Children's Book
ALA Booklist Editors' Choice
Horn Book Fanfare

"Gantos lifts this account of a kid with a lot of problems well above the stock problem novel: Joey's view of the world is compelling regardless of what he's dealing with, and it's realistic in both its perceptions and their limitations." - Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books 2000
"Readers will be drawn in immediately to the boy's gripping first-person narrative and be pulled pell-mell through episodes that are at once hilarious, harrowing, and ultimately heartening as Joey grows to understand himself and the people around him." - School Library Journal 2000 
"Good books, like this one, keep you turning pages..." - The New York Times Book Review 2000

  • When Joey is off of his patches his thoughts are often scrambled.  Student and/or teachers can log on to Discovery Education and create a word scramble puzzle using key topics of the book.  
  • Kids can listen to the unabridged version of Gantos reading the book and have a quiz bowl over trivia facts in the book online.  TRIVIA QUIZ
  • The class can discuss ADHD and create cartoons or drawings to symbolize the thought processes behind Joey's actions
  • Students can simply make poster drawings of their favorite scene from the book.

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