Jackie's Reviews > Wringer

Wringer by Jerry Spinelli
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's review
Mar 29, 2011

really liked it
bookshelves: animals-birds, bullies, children-fiction, newbery-honor-book, violence, courage, challenged-books
Read from March 29 to 30, 2011

Unlike most kids his age, Palmer LaRue is dreading his 10th birthday. Because, you see, upon reaching his 10th, he will be declared ready to be a wringer. Every summer during the annual Pigeon Days, 10 year old boys must be trained to wring the necks of nearly 5000 pigeons that are released for sharpshooters. When the birds are only wounded the boys have seconds to get the bird and put them out of their misery. Palmer is sickened and appalled by this tradition...even though his father won the sharpshooter award in 1989.

His friends bully him into training for the event, yet he knows deep down he can't take part. One ominous day, he hears a tap-tap-tapping at his bedroom window and is surprised to find a pigeon there. He can't believe it and mechanically he lets the bird in. As time passes, the bird comes to his window every night, accepts Palmer's offering of food, and roosts in his closet. Palmer becomes attached to the bird he names Nipper.

But, those bully friends of his catch onto Palmer's secret, tease him, and try to take the bird away from him. Palmer is frightened, not only for Nipper, but for himself and his best friend, Dorothy. He enlists Dorothy's family's help in releasing Nipper far, far away from his town in hopes of saving him. What Palmer doesn't realize is that Nipper has a way of finding his way back to him.

A very disturbing portrait of cruelty to animals in the name of fun and profit. Spinelli paints a picture that is hard to forget. Palmer must find the courage to stand up to his family, his friends, and the entire town in the hopes that he be true to himself and his beliefs.

Used for Hiawatha School Book Talk: April, 2011.

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