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Joey Pigza Swallowed the Key facts for kids

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Joey Pigza Swallowed the Key
Joey Pigza Swallowed The Key.jpg
Author Jack Gantos
Country United States
Language English
Genre Children's
Publisher Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Publication date
Media type Print
Pages 160 pp
ISBN 978-0374336646
Followed by Joey Pigza Loses Control 

Joey Pigza Swallowed the Key is a children's novel by Jack Gantos, published in 1998. It is the first of a series of books featuring the character Joey Pigza. The book was a National Book Award finalist.


The book describes the life of a child named Joey Pigza who frequently gets into trouble at school due to his erratic behavior. He has a habit of swallowing a key attached to a piece of string in order to pull it back out again, and on one instance he forgets to attach a string to the key, preventing him from pulling it back up. At school, Joey puts his finger in a pencil sharpener, runs around with scissors, and cuts the tip of a girl's nose off. Pigza is on medication which he takes regularly, but it doesn't seem to be very effective. As a consequence of slicing off the tip of his classmate's nose, Pigza is suspended from school and sent to a special education center. Joey Pigza fears that "something [is] wrong inside" him, a fear which escalates until the medications he is on are readjusted, and he feels he is able to make better decisions. The book implies that Joey Pigza is dealing with a condition such as ADHD, adjustment disorder, depression, or conduct disorder, but an exact diagnosis is never specified.

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