A FEW OTHER EVENTS FOR
- Happy birthday Diane Goode (When I Was Young in the Mountains), Elizabeth Winthrop (The Castle in the Attic), and Holly Meade (Hush! A Thai Lullaby, On The Farm).
- Itâ€™s the birth date of William H. Armstrong (1911-1999), Sounder, and John Steptoe (1950-1989), Mufaroâ€™s Beautiful Daughters.
- In 1716 the first lighthouse in what will become the United States was lit in Boston Harbor. Read Birdieâ€™s Lighthouse by Deborah Hopkins, illustrated by Kimberly Bulcken Root, and The Lighthouse Cat by Sue Stainton, illustrated by Anne Mortimer.
- Composer George Handel completed The Messiah in 1741. Read Handel, Who Knew What He Liked by M. T. Anderson.
- In the British Isles it is Nutting Day and time to pick hazelnuts. Read Nuts to You! by Lois Ehlert.
September has been designated Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) Month to educate everyone about effective treatments for the disease. In 1998 Jack Gantos published a book called Joey Pigza Swallowed the Key that not only became a National Book Award finalist but also goes a long way in educating young readers about ADHD. Joey Pigza is an endearing and sympathetic protagonist who is also both distracted and hyperactive. As he tells us in the first paragraph, â€śAt school they say Iâ€™m wired bad, or wired mad, or wired sad, or wired glad, depending on my mood and what teacher has ended up with me. But there is no doubt about it. Iâ€™m wired.â€ť
Joey has had some rough times: His alcoholic father has abandoned him and he has been raised by his grandmother. When his mother returns, things donâ€™t really get better for him. He canâ€™t sit still. He canâ€™t pay attention. He always says the wrong thing. He just says, and does, whatever comes to his mind. His medication doesnâ€™t seem to work at certain times of the day. He swallows his house key; he hurts his finger when he sticks it into the pencil sharpener. Eventually Joey causes a serious accident for another student. Throughout all of these events, Gantos keeps the story moving along at record speed, as Joey processes what happens in his own first-person voice.
So, Joey gets sent off to a special educational center, where they send him to the hospital to scan his brain, do a lot of psychological analysis, and adjust his medication. And finally readers cheer as, much more in control, Joey goes back to his own school. Itâ€™s impossible not to root for him. Heâ€™s basically a good kid who always does the wrong thing. Heâ€™s funny and dear and enraging all at the same time. But because heâ€™s ADHD, he canâ€™t help himselfâ€”until he gets the help he needs.
Jack Gantos began his career with a series of books about a badly behaved cat, Rotten Ralph. His own autobiography, A Hole in My Life, tells about Gantosâ€™s scrapes with the law as a young man. In fact, no one describes rowdy, out of control boys better than Jack. But Joey Pigza may well be his finest creation. For this character, Jack blended elements of his friends, kids he saw in school visits, and, of course, Jack himself as a boy.
Joeyâ€™s adventures continue in Joey Pigza Loses Control, What Would Joey Pigza Do? and I Am Not Joey Pigza. If you know young readers ages eight through twelve who want to understand ADHDâ€”or who just want to laugh a lot about a badly behaved boyâ€”share these books with them.
Hereâ€™s a passage from Joey Pigza Swallowed the Key:
I had a funny sound in my head, kind of a hissing like when the TV station goes off the air at night and there is nothing but static, but really loud static and no words at all and getting louder like tires speeding down a wet road and coming right at me. My eyes felt so swollen with the flood of energy inside my throbbing head that I could only see the tops of my cheeks and a smudge where my nose fit on and a bigger blur beyond that. I took a deep breath and the air gushed into my lungs and lifted me up and suddenly I was running and crashing through the stalks of the cornfield. I had my arms stuck out like the wings of a plane, and the long curved leaves sliced me up but I didnâ€™t feel the string.
Originally posted September 14, 2011. Updated for .