The Pinballs
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The Pinballs

3.78 of 5 stars 3.78  ·  rating details  ·  1,404 ratings  ·  120 reviews
You can't always decide where life will take you--especially when you're a kid.

Carlie knows she's got no say in what happens to her. Stuck in a foster home with two other kids, Harvey and Thomas J, she's just a pinball being bounced from bumper to bumper. As soon as you get settled, somebody puts another coin in the machine and off you go again. But against her will and he...more
Paperback, 144 pages
Published August 10th 2004 by HarperCollins (first published January 1st 1977)
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I’m Theme-Reading at the moment, friends, and the theme is “Books That Should Be Checked Out More By My Younger Patrons But Aren’t, Forcing Me To Potentially Weed Them From My Collection, Why Children Why Do You Not Have The Amazing Taste In Stories That I Want You To Have.”

So in that vein, here we have The Pinballs, a book that I very vaguely remembered reading and enjoying as a child. Upon reread I understand why it’s collecting dust.

The plot is good, though, let’s start with that.

Carlie, Harv...more
I feel relly bad for Harvey. His dad ran over his legs,and now hes an acoholic.And Carly's life is real hard because her dad said he would cut off all her hair!

Thomas J. never had a birthday well atleast he didnt know when it was. So when Carly heard about that she said Thomas J. could have the same birthday as her. He said yes because everyone needs a birthday there birthday will be on April. 7th. That same day Harvy was in the Hospital because his toes along with his legs were infected! And i...more
Re-read to be on par with the 6th graders in September.
Byars did a good job crafting a slim, accessible story, with heavy, important themes, for relatively young readers.
I remember this book being one of the first really moving realistic books I read--being surprised by the drama (not melodrama, not overdone...but really serious stuff); it stands up over time. The dated details were dated when I first read it--and don't/didn't interfere with the story. I suspect young readers will think of the p...more
I remember when I read this for school in grade six, I would have gave it a three. I liked it, but purely plot wise I felt like there were serious issues I couldn't overlook. Ask anyone who knew me at the time, all I would do is complain about the ending of he Pinballs. "you can't leave more questions than answers, you just can't!" mm I think this part is spoilers so.... so anyways... I just hated how it ended with them on the bench at the park (I can't remember exactly. Where is Thomas's mother...more
I have very mixed feelings about this book. It is about Harvey, Carlie, and Thomas J., three foster children who come to live with the Masons. Carlie is there because her step-father was abusive and hit, Harvey because his father was drunk and ran over his legs with a car, and Thomas J. because he was found as baby by two very old women who were neglectful in their care of him and who are now too old to take care of him. Carlie calls the three pinballs because they are being bounced around by li...more
The Book is Mainly About 3 Kids that Live in A Foster home Together. I Like This Book because Is Mainly Explains About Self Control and How Adults make Mistakes at time. I Predict that what is going to Happen next is That they will Change their Behaviors and Try to change so that They can have a better life.
Gayle Francis Moffet
I remembered reading this book in middle school and figured I'd never find it again. Lo and behold, it's still popular enough to allow for a re-release all this time later, and I got to sit down and read it again.

The Pinballs is set in the 70s and is about three kids who all wind up in the same foster home. They end up there for different reasons, and they are distinct in their personalities and individual responses to situations. It's almost pleasant to read this book again and realize there ar...more
Three foster children find themselves staying with a nice couple and come to terms with some of their sense of loss. Harvey’s mother left him and his father when he was young to find herself and never thought to look back to her role as a mother and the heartbreak of her young son. Harvey’s father drank himself to ease the pain and was not much of a father to his son and then one day in a burst of self-indulgence, actually ran over Harvey and broke both his legs. The girl is far too cynical and...more
The pinballs by Besty Byars is a funny,sad,entertaining. the children are Harvey,thomasJ and Carlie .Carlie is the big sister Harvey and Thomas J ever had.She got to the foster home because her step father hit her.Thats the end of that story.On to Harvey that a sad story.hes in the foster home becausehis father ran over his legs.The only reason he ran over his legs because he did not get out the car.Harvey did not get out te car because he got a reward for writing I LOVE BEING A AMICAN.Plus his...more

Three unwanted kids--complete strangers to each other--find themselves in the same nurturing foster home, with three different tales of neglect and disillusion locked shamefully in their love-starved hearts. Wisecracking Carly compares their unstable lifestyles to that of unfeeling pinballs: bounced around by fate with little control over their substandard destiny.

When the children finally begin to verbalize (only to each other) their fears and ambitions, they make...more
Nov 15, 2007 Jessica rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition Recommends it for: kids up for something short, serious, and good
This is an extremely sweet little book about how it sucks to be in foster care, even if you have wonderful foster parents, which a lot of kids don't. I recently reread this, and it made me cry. Of course, I cry when I read the front section of the Times or watch a certain Adam Sandler movie, so that doesn't mean much.... This is a great book, though. The kids are all interesting, three-dimensional characters, not at all the big-eyed, trembling punching bags you might expect from a treatment of t...more
Olivia Mainville
For a children’s book this touched on a rather dark subject – the pains of being placed in a foster family. This is the story of one girl who can’t get along with her stepfather, a boy in a wheelchair after being run over by his drunken father, and another boy whose only parents he ever had were a pair of 80+ year old twins who found him on their doorstep when he was a baby. They are the pinballs, shooting from place to place without control of where they’re going. They each try to pick up the p...more
Let me start by saying that I re-read this awesome book back in 2006 as part of the investigations I did for my Masters thesis paper. At the time I was exploring the issue of how works of grade-level fiction that will encourage at-risk learners to become life-long readers while achieving grade-level benchmarks. I also used to read this with my 6th grade students who were considered "at-risk" and they really identified!

Betsy Byars addresses such issues as abuse, abandonment, alcoholism and death...more
Erika Schuck
I read It to see if it was appropriate for my kids or if it would make the ones that have been in/are in foster homes uncomfortable. I was especially worried if it said something negative about foster homes. Even though we talk about their experiences and most of them have been bad, we always hope that they are going to a wonderful & forever foster home & don't want them to give up or think all foster parents are bad. But this book is so touching, funny, honest, & appropriate for my...more
This book has been a favorite read of mine since childhood. Over the years, I've picked it up again and again for a quick little read. The content is well written, the characters believable and ones for which the reader can really root/hope for as the story progresses. Thomas J is the youngest - the helper, Harvey is 13 and the token nerd-wannabe-something more important, and Carlie is one heck of a tough yet sweet gal once you get to know her. Together, with the help of their foster parents --t...more
Carlie, Thomas J., and Harvey start the summer moving into foster care. Harvey's father ran him over with a car and broke both his legs, but Harvey claims he is in a wheelchair because of a football accident. Thomas J. ended up in foster care after the elderly twins raising him fell and broke their hips. Carlie is on her 3rd father and in her mind she is 0-3 where fathers are concerned. Carlie has decided the three of them are pinballs - they ended up in the same hole, but not by choice - contro...more
This book is about a girl named Carlie. Carlie lives in a foster home with two other kids, Harvey and Thomas. Carlie is never able to make her own decisions. She has no say in what goes on in her life. Against Carlie’s will she become friends with Thomas, and Harvey. The three friends make a choice to start standing up for themselves, and to speak up for each other and themselves.

I would recommend this book to anyone who wants to read a fun book. I am sure they would enjoy it very much.

If i were...more
Another childhood fave - misfits, abandonment, loyalty - this book has it all. It takes place in the 70s / early 80s (when it was written) and is a tame take on life as a foster kid. It was so radically different from my childhood (adults really behave that way????) that I was taken with this book. I shared it years later with my own 5th grade students to mixed reviews. Our school district even that the video of Pinballs that we watched after reading the book. In the end, it may have been the da...more
The story Pinballs is about three kids who move into a foster home and learn a lot about each other. Harvey is in the foster home because he wanted his dad to go to his concert at school because he played the trumpet. His dad was drunk, got in his 4-by-4 truck and ran his son over and broke his legs. Thomas J. is in the foster home because his guardians are too old to watch over him, they are the oldest living twins in the city. The main character Carlie, she is in the foster home because her pa...more
I read this book an extremely long time ago. It is one of those books that I wracked my brain for enough details to google and find it. Thank cod for Wikipedia.

A truly enjoyable book that all spoiled middle-to-upper class rich kids need to read when they think their life is so horrible and difficult.

1/30 - I re-read this this morning. I knew it would be a quick read, and I hadn't read it in so long.

This is way more upsetting than I remember. I must have grown more sympathetic in my old age. But...more
I really, really liked this book, and considered giving it four stars. In the end, it might get three and a half.
I love the kids that live in this caring, sympathetic foster home, and their backstories are heartbreaking, vivid, and even funny in the case of the youngest. Speaking of the youngest, it was Thomas J. whom I liked the most, absorbing his sweet personality and enjoying his story for all it was.
Betsy Byars really did a good job in this book, I would say. It is one of my favorite of...more
I learned that even if you are sent to a foster home while your parents 'find themselves' or just have to chill out, you can't let anyone push you around. You are in charge of your OWN life, and no one else is. Also, some people could be your worst enemy and you don't want to be in the same ROOM with them, let alone the same HOUSE, they can actually turn out to be your best friend(s) and someone who you need to rely on for support when things don't work out the way they should. This is a very in...more
Carlie, Thomas J, and Harvey are stuck in a foster home. They are much like pinball's always bouncing around from home to home, but at this foster home they are treated like they are loved and they start figuring out that life could be worse. Thomas J's life long caretaker's die, Harvey's dad ran over his legs, and Carlie was abused by her mom's boyfriends, but rather than dwelling on the past these kids start to look towards the future.

Activity- Character mapping
One chapter lends itself to maki...more
John Marr
I was inspired to pick this one up after watching a loft screening of the ABC "After School Special" starring Kristy McNichol based on it. Amazingly faithfull adaptation, down to Ms. McNichol's character's penchant for halter tops and general mouthiness. The story, three foster kids discovering the meaning of friendship, is surprisingly good and poingnantly told. The slight heavy-handedness in driving the message home is more due to the target audience (pre-teens) than to the preachiness that af...more
I read this book in the fifth grade and it was phenomenal!
Dec 01, 2008 Alicia added it
This is another assigned book for school but this is just like NUumber the Stars well not like the same setting but like when you start reading you cant stop. This book taught me valuable lessons about life and how these kids are living and how one of the characters named Harvey has two broken legs because his dad ran over them and Carlie, the girl this is in the foster home too is shocked about it. Well I'm not going to tell you anymore because your just going to have to read the book yourself....more
I have read this before, but it has been several years. I have a unique mix of personalities and backgrounds in the language arts class I am teaching this year, and I thought they might enjoy the misadventures of the three foster children in this book. They loved it!
The book is about three young people (two boys and a girl)who come to live in a foster home for a variety of reasons. Little do they know that they will become each others "saviors." The book promoted many interesting class discussi...more
The Pinballs by Betsy Byats is funny,entertaining,sad,and loveing. because it is funny because of carlie,and havey havey wright stuf about him and carlie keep woching .t.v.And Havey dad ran over him. Carlie stepfather hit her. Tomas'J got left by his mom at a farm owen by the bensons favorite part is when havey got a puppy and he startet to crie.and when havey keep asking for his puppy.
once again i chose to read a book for which i had to pay $1 to get shipped to me; once again it proved worthwhile! yay : ) this book is only a juvenile book; it took only about 1.5 hours to read, but, like i say, it was worthwhile. the reason i opted to pay to read it is because it is about foster children and my sister, jill, takes in foster children; so the whole subject is special to me, and i read it partly in honor of her. this book is very sweet.
Skylar Burris
This was assigned reading back when I was in 5th grade. I remember liking it but also being quite depressed by it. What grim reading we kids had foisted on us in the 80's. Not as grim as all those after-the-nuclear-holocaust tales, but grim for a 5th grader. On the other hand, I guess it's nice to know we were exposed to complex human issues instead of being coddled or presented with sanatized children's tales.
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Betsy Byars has written over sixty books for young people. Her first published in 1962 and since then she has published regularly. Her books have been translated into nineteen languages and she gets thousands of letters from readers in the United States and from all over the world.

She has won many awards. Among them are the Newbery Medal in 1971 for her novel The Summer of the Swans, the American...more
More about Betsy Byars...
The Summer of the Swans Tornado The Midnight Fox The SOS File Keeper of the Doves

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