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Joey Pigza Swallowed the Key

Written by: Jack Gantos
Narrated by: Jack Gantos
Series: Joey Pigza, Book 1
Length: 2 hrs and 58 mins
4.7 out of 5 stars (3 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Joey Pigza can't sit still. He can't pay attention, he can't follow the rules, and he can't help it -- especially when his meds aren't working. Joey's had problems ever since he was born, problems just like his dad and grandma have.

And whether he's wreaking havoc on a class trip or swallowing his house key, Joey's problems are getting worse. In fact, his behavior is so off the wall that his teachers are threatening to send him to the special-ed center downtown.

Joey knows he's really a good kid, but no matter how hard he tries to do the right thing, something always seems to go wrong. Will he ever get anything right?

©2000 Jack Gantos (P)2009 Listening Library

What the critics say

"An accurate, compassionate and humorous appraisal of a boy with attention-deficit disorder.... For young readers touched by ADD - and for their teachers and parents - Joey gives us the key to his world." ( Publishers Weekly)

What listeners say about Joey Pigza Swallowed the Key

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
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  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Stig
  • 2018-10-23

Joey Pigza gets a review

It is very good. I loved it. Great book for Middle School students. Highly recommend.

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Melissa
  • 2017-12-11

Touching and Relevant

Triggers: Child abuse, alcoholism Narration: Great Story: My 9 year old son and I listened to this touching story of Joey Pigza, his struggles with impulse control, ADHD, some really complex emotions and an imperfect mother who loves him fiercely. Joey gets kicked out of school after a series of accidents brought on by his poor choices & impulse control issues. He gets sent to a scary special school where he struggles to turn things around so when his 6 week suspension is up, he'll be alowed back into his class. The reason I gave this book 4 stars instead of 5 is because there is so much emphasis placed on finding the right medication and I would have really liked to see some more emphasis on the coping skills that Joey learned. Great story overall and great depiction of struggles with ADHD. About the triggers: This book touches on the abuse of Joey by his grandmother in two scenes - one scene, toward the beginning of the book, she tries unsuccessfully to lock him in the refrigerator and immediately after she runs away and doesn't appear in the rest of the book. The other scene, Joey reveals some mental abuse by the grandma where she forced him to act like a dog and hit him with a flyswatter if he didn't. The book reveals Joey's mother used to have a drinking problem and his absent father still does. His father doesn't appear in this book. No drunkenness is depicted in the story.

5 people found this helpful

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  • Raphael Gersowsky
  • 2018-10-19

We've loved every bit of it!

what a wonderful story. poignant, sweet, empathic. a refreshing take on childhood travails without a filter for the mixed bag that comes with differently abled little ones.

1 person found this helpful

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  • CJ Fitpro
  • 2018-10-02

Everyone loved it!

This is such a heart-warming story, and should be a must-listen for every kid (and parent!). We all know kids like Joey, and hearing the story told from his perspective really sheds light on living with ADHD. There are parts that hit you in the emotional gut - and I found myself crying in the driver's seat as my daughters listened intently in the backseat. The next minute, we're laughing hysterically. After finishing this book, I immediately purchased the second in the Joey Pigza series. It sounds a bit dramatic, but honestly, our family is changed from reading this book. We now have "Joey" moments and laugh - and my kiddos better understand the "difficult" kids in their classrooms. Would recommend this book to everyone!

1 person found this helpful

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  • E Williams
  • 2020-02-06

Wonderful book

The reader kept Me very interested throughout the entire book. Would definitely recommend purchasing this story

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  • michelle
  • 2019-08-02

Great book

I really like this book and I love hi voice I calms me and actually helps me sleep

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  • A. Borden
  • 2019-06-23

great touching story.

Great touching story made me think about how I interact with students who may have various challenges. Good insight into the lives of children.

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  • Donna Hrynyk
  • 2019-04-13

Read aloud for School.

I liked the idea of a story about a child with special needs. However there were many parts of the story that were not appropriate for school. Nor they type of story I would want my children listening to. The mother uses alcohol as her “medicine” is one such example. The students liked the story and the narrator so it was difficult to explain to them that it was not really an example I cared for them to hear.

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  • Georgia
  • 2018-10-06

Sad and funnyat the same time.

If you have ever known someone who struggled with ADHD, you will feel for Joey.

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Todd
  • 2012-08-27

Thought-provoking children's story

Would you consider the audio edition of Joey Pigza Swallowed the Key to be better than the print version?

For commuting purposes, the audio version is better.

If you were to make a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

A misunderstood boy gets the help he needs.