Joey Pigza Loses Control , by Jack Gantos

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Published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux. First edition, September 2000; hardcover, 208 pages. Recommended for ages 9-12.
Joey Pigza Loses Control , by Jack Gantos (Children's books)

            Joey Pizga's dad, Carter, doesn't live with Joey and his mom. Joey is going to meet him for the first time. So they get in a car with their pet chihuahua Pablo and start driving to Pittsburg.

            Joey is an emotional boy with Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) and goes to a Special Education school. He is always nervous and worries that something bad will happen. But his new medicine has him feeling a lot better. In the book we can find out what ADD is like, and how it feels to get past it with the right medicine. Now Joey feels he is finally ready for the big meeting.

            Carter wants to start forming a good relationship with Joey, and help him get along in life. But maybe Carter teaching Joey is not the best thing. Joey finds out his dad is a lot like himself, nervous about everything. When they play baseball in the park, Carter pressures Joey and bugs him. Carter sometimes says things to other people that aren't very nice - remarks that offend people. Carter gives Joey some very bad advice - he says that Joey doesn't need to take his medicine.

            Are they ever going to be a normal dad and son? Maybe Mr. Pigza should get some help himself. But that has to be Mr. Pigza's decision. To get help, first a person must want to be helped.

            This is the second book about Joey Pizga written by Jack Gantos. The first one was Joey Pigza Swallowed the Key, written in 1998.

Book review for by Darcy Lepore - Age 12

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Book review from - Copied here with permission

            The loveable, disaster-prone hero of Joey Pigza Swallowed the Key is back, this time in charge of his attention deficit disorder and ready to greet the world as a normal kid -- with the help of his new and improved meds, of course.

            Now that Joey has a handle on his actions, he feels prepared to face the most mysterious member of his family -- his estranged father, Carter Pigza. He convinces his skeptical mom to let him spend part of his summer vacation getting to know his dad again. The only problem is that Joey's dad is just as wired as Joey used to be: "I looked over at his mouth, which never seemed to close -- not even the lips touched together -- and it made me dizzy to listen to him." Carter believes that Joey can kick his ADD the way he himself kicked alcoholism -- cold turkey. But when Carter flushes his meds, Joey has to decide if being friends with his dad is worth losing his hard-won self-control. "That old Joey was coming to get me and I couldn't do anything about it... I closed my eyes and told myself to sleep while I could."

            Jack Gantos's second book about Joey Pigza is just as delightful and soulful as his first. Joey's attempts to keep the fragile peace in his life intact are touching, and his intense longing to just be normal will mirror the feelings of most preteens, whether they have ADD or not. Joey Pigza may sometimes lose control, but he never loses his heart. This is an exceptional sequel. (Ages 10 and older)

-- Jennifer Hubert

Publisher's Book Description

            When Joey Pigza meets his dad for the first time in years, he meets a grown-up version of his old out-of-control self. Carter Pigza is as wired as Joey used to be -- before his stint in special ed, and before he got his new meds.

            Joey's mom reluctantly agrees that he can stay with his dad for a summer visit, which sends Joey racing with sky-high hopes that he and Carter can finally get to know each other. But as the weeks whirl by, Carter has bigger plans in mind. He decides that just as he has pulled himself up by his own bootstraps, Joey can do the same and become as normal as any kid, without the help of a doctors prescription. Carter believes Joey can do it, and Joey wants to believe him more than anything in the world.

            Here is the continuation of the acclaimed Joey Pigza story, affirming not only that Joey Pigza is a true original but that it runs in the family.

About the Author
Jack Gantos is the author of many books, including the Rotten Ralph picture books and several collections of stories for middle-graders featuring his alter ego Jack Henry. He lives with his wife and daughter in Boston, Massachusetts.

Joey Pigza Loses Control , by Jack Gantos
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