Gantos, Jack They Key that Swallowed Joey Pigza (Book #5) 154 pgs. Farrar. 2014. $16.99 Content: Language: G (0 swears); Mature Content: PG Violence: PG
Apparently this is the fifth book in a series, but it reads almost like a stand alone. Joey is a young boy with a ton on his plate. He has his own challenges that he is on medication for, his mother is having some mental health issues, his dad left the family and its almost the first day of school. But his mother threatens her new baby and goes to the mental hospital, so Joey is left alone to take care of the baby. His blind friend shows up and helps him out. His father tries to kidnap the baby. Everyone learns lessons about life and themselves, especially Joey.
I found this book to be utterly horrifying and wish I had never read it, the mental illness, the child abuse, the horrible situation was definitely intense and very unpleasant. That being said, there are many children in similar situations that may relate to having to be the parent instead of being the child that they. There is some very real violence talk, especially around the safety and care of the baby, which would be upsetting for elementary readers. I think middle school students could handle some of these real life scenarios and have discussions about them in a classroom setting.
MS –OPTIONAL Reviewer: Stephanie Elementary School Librarian & Author.