Book/page totals

Top 10 Lists

Thursday, January 12, 2006

cover of Wringer

A young boy, named Palmer, has his ninth birthday and is finally accepted by the gang in his neighborhood. The gang consists of three boys his age, named Beans, Mutto, and Henry -- and at his birthday party they give him his new name -- Snots. He gets to run with them and play with them and tease others - to be part of the group. But there are things about this group and his town which he can't stand. The largest is that every year they have Family Fest and the last day consists of a contest to see who is the best sharpshooter - and crates full of 5,000 pigeons who are the targets. At ten, all the boys in town get to be wringers, to make sure that the pigeons are really dead. Palmer dreads this day and all it entails.

In sharp contrast to this gang of boys, across the street from Palmer is a girl named Dorothy. She is confident in who she is and doesn't need the approval of others like most of us do. Our American culture is obsessed with approval and appearances and convincing other people to like us. To have a nine-year-old girl who is confident in herself is a gift -- and a challenge. This seems to be a theme in Spinelli's work -- challenging young adults to speak up for themselves and to care less about other's opinions and more about truth (Stargirl, Maniac McGee).

Palmer, of course, as the protagonist, must change through the events that take place in his book. As humans, when we change, we effect change in others too. True to his style, Spinelli's allows the reader to see some of the effects. Another agent of change is a pigeon. This is beautiful because in the town, pigeons are despised, but Palmer gets to know one and to see the gifts he has to offer. Humans naturally place people and things in categories (such as 'us' vs 'them', or 'good' vs 'bad'), but when one gets to know individuals those categories cannot stand. We are all sinners in need of grace. Both grace and hope are always beautifully present in spinelli's books.

Author: Jerry Spinelli
Date published:1997
Genre: Young Adult, Fiction
Number of pages: 228


Google Search