Title: Joey Pigza Loses Control
Author(s): Jack Gantos
Cover Art: Beata Szpura
Publisher and Year: Scholastic, 2001
Number of pages: 196
Genre: Realistic Fiction.
Descriptive Annotation: Joe Pigza Loses Control centers on its title character, Joey Pigza, who is a young boy with ADHD who’s best friend is his Chihuahua, Pablo. At the beginning of the book, Joey is with his mom on his way to his dad’s house for a visit. Joey has never met his dad before and he spends the car ride worrying about what type of person his dad is, and wondering if he can get his parents back together. When Joey arrives at his father’s house he meets his dad and his grandmother for the first time. As his mother leaves she reminds Joey to wear his patch (to treat his ADHD) and to call if his father begins drinking or he wants to come home. Joey is simultaneously entranced and fearful of his father. Joey’s dad has ADHD and is extremely obsessive. Joey’s dad places him on a youth baseball team, which he coaches. As the summer progresses, Joey does very well on the baseball team but is begins to have trouble when his dad decides to take him off of his patch. The book ends with Joey spiraling out of control, calling his mom and leaving his dad’s house to come home.
Linguistic and Cultural Diversity Analysis: This book does not include any racial diversity. However, the entire book is about, and told from the perspective of, someone with ADHD. Additionally, it is very apparent that all of the characters in this book have hard lives (medical problems, going to jail, struggling with alcohol) and are not financially well off. Linguistically this book is very rich. The words are not overly difficult; however, the language in this book is very descriptive and playful. The main character, Joey, often has trouble understanding figurative language and his interpretation of such language is often very comical. Finally, this book includes much symbolism- often comparing events and characters to storybook characters.
Interdisciplinary Connections: This book would work well with an art unit. Because the main character is often not seen as he would like by the world, a good art connection could be to have students create a portrait of what is going on inside their heads- much like the picture we see develop as we read the book. Additionally, I think this book would be great to use at the beginning of the school year or if there were problems with bullying. Joey Pigza Loses Control gives a wonderful, vivid image of what it is like to struggle with school, family, and your own mental state. I think it could be a great tool for a class to use to understanding each other.
Other Information: I love this book. I think it is one of the more valuable books I have read. I personally think that students in Education 257 should be required to read this book. It provides a vivid image into the mental state of a child who is struggling internally, trying to work around family problems, and is mislabeled and misunderstood by many with whom they interact. I think many students would like the wacky and honest Joey and many students who have problems with their home life would relate to this character. I think that this book would not work in every class or with every student due to some of the mature content, such as alcohol, smoking, and occasional violent undertones. However, I think for some classes and some students this book would provide either an insight into a perspective they may never have or a voice that could speak to them about something they may be afraid to talk about with others.