Author: Jerry Spinelli
Publishing information: Harper Collins Publishing, 1997, 9-12
Number of Pages: 228
Genre: Contemporary Realistic Fiction
Summary of Plot: In Palmer’s small town each summer there is a Pigeon shooting day. Once the kids turn ten they are able to become “wringer”. They run out into the field and wring the necks of the birds that have been shot down. On Palmer’s ninth birthday he becomes “one of the guys”, and their ambition is to become wringers and bully little kids. Palmer though does not want to hurt the pigeons. A couple months before the festivals, Palmer meets a pigeon outside his window. He takes it in a takes care of it. His friends have suspicions, and think he has betrayed them. He sets his neighbor agrees to set the pigeon free for him, but set him free where they catch the pigeons. Palmer saves his pigeon from being shot and finally stands up for the pigeon.
Your Reaction to the book: I thought the concept was ridiculous. There were a lot of plot holes. Palmer’s character was not believable. He tries to solve his problems by himself, and the other characters have too much freedom for their age group. It is definitely geared towards a younger group.
Potential Problems: Bullying is very propionate in this book, but it is never addressed or resolved. Spinelli leaves his book hanging at the end, and Palmer does finally stand up for himself. But we never know if this action resolves the problem he is having of being bullying by his old fiends. Palmer never goes to this parents for help, they play a very minor part in the story. When kids read book where the character is independent, and making stupid choices, what are they learning?
Recommendations: 9 – 12 year old boys.