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The Pinballs

3.84  ·  Rating details ·  2,466 Ratings  ·  179 Reviews
From Newbery-winning author Betsy Byers comes a story full of "poignancy, perception, and humor" (The Chicago Tribune), about three foster kids who learn what it takes to make a family.

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 Th
ebook, 144 pages
Published July 17th 2012 by HarperCollins (first published January 1st 1977)
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K This is a book about three kids living in a foster home. It has many complex social issues and explores how the kids overcome or come to terms with…moreThis is a book about three kids living in a foster home. It has many complex social issues and explores how the kids overcome or come to terms with them now that they are finally in a safe, healthy home environment. This is a powerful read. It was written in the 1970s however, and there are some old references. I highly recommend it!(less)
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Jul 23, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Nov 15, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Oct 27, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
It's really confusing, and not that good of a book, anyway.
Dec 08, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Nov 15, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  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
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.
Katie Kemple
I found a copy of The Pinballs at a thrift store recently. I don't remember reading many books as a kid, but I remembered this one and picked it up. As an adult, I was moved by its brevity and characters. Betsy Byars achieves quite a bit for a 22,000 word novel, particularly one that deals with a difficult situation for children.

I read this book in middle school. I remember it being about encouragement and power through childhood during a very conflicted time for 3 foster children. They learn more about each-other, their past,and their hardships. I definitely recommend this book to children and teens.
Feb 15, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I remember reading this book in elementary school and feeling heartbroken for the characters. The characters in this book are called Pinballs because they are foster-children bounced from house to house. If you want a quick read that will have you feeling some emotion, check this book out.
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jul 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 5-stars
I read this (shameless age brag, yup I am old) decades ago and the instant I saw this cover a flood of memories surfaced. Might be my first experience of having sunk into a book and walked with the characters. It still feels like I 'knew' them, looking back, rather than they were featured in a powerful story. I'm a bit torn on this: tempted now to read this again, but afraid that Adult Me will not appreciate and enjoy it as much as Pre-Teen Me did.
Sep 28, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"The Pinballs" was a sad book that Harvey had both legs broken also for the people the are for them. i would not recommend this book because the story might be sad for some people. Also that Carile and her dad is a copy of "Sure Signs of Crazy" (if you had read it).
Sep 28, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I liked the book but i didn't love it like the absolutely true diary of a part time indian or prisoner b-3087. I just didn't fit the book i am looking for.
May 19, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Good book for identifying character traits and characters who change over time.
Christen Notrelle
Made me appreciate the family I had.
Watch Books
Second time reading after several years. Good book, not as good as the first time around. - Zoe
Kathy Strayer
Kids are resilient & dogs can make a situation better.
Sep 29, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
OK didn't like it
Jul 09, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Liked how it ended and the the characters changed.
Jun 12, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own
It didn’t surprise me to read that Betsy Byars has received more letters about The Pinballs than about any of her other books. Of all her books that I have read, The Pinballs is one of my favorites. I love the three main characters. The plot is perfectly balanced. Even the writing style immediately impressed me. The Pinballs is a classic for many sound reasons.

More than anything, the characters are distinct and memorable. Meet Carlie. Byars tells us she is as hard to crack as a coconut. Carlie a
Katie Fitzgerald
This review also appears on my blog, Read-at-Home Mom.

On the same day, three kids arrive at the same foster home: Thomas J. who has been raised by elderly twins after being abandoned by his birth mother, Harvey, whose own father ran over his legs with the family car, and Carlie, who has been removed from her home because of an abusive stepdad. Though they are supposedly just pinballs, existing together in one space without any particular regard for one another, these three kids form a bond that
Trevor Wells
Nov 08, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: etc
When I first began reading The Pinballs, I didn't think I was going to enjoy it. It started out pretty slow and, with the small page number of 136, I didn't think there would be enough time for a compelling story to be told. But to my surprise, The Pinballs managed to shape into a well-written, compelling story with a great moral that is pieced together naturally. It's not exactly The Fault In Our Stars, but it can still tug at the heartstrings.

Plot Synopsis: Carlie feels she has no control over
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
Feb 20, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Book #6 read in 2017

Great read!
Bailey Wavrunek
Apr 25, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Pinballs by Betsy Byars is a novel about three foster kids and how they deal with moving into a new foster home. The home they are moving into is the Mason’s. The Mason's have had many other foster children and it is obvious from all the pictures on the wall. Carlie is the first one to arrive. Carlie is very tough and wants to be in control. She is like this because she has been repeatedly abused by her various step-fathers. She doesn't really trust anyone because of this. Next is Harvey. Wh ...more
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

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
Ryk Stanton
Jan 09, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I remember reading this as a kid. No, I remember checking this book out of the library as a kid and not reading it. Hey, it was called The Pinballs, and I loved to play pinball!

Yeah, it's not about pinball. Pinballs are used as a metaphor by the jaded, defensive foster child Carlie as she explains to the others that foster kids are like pinballs, put somewhere together without reason and just bouncing around with no sense of control. It's a pretty smart metaphor, that's for sure. And when it's r
Aug 05, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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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
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