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I Am Not Joey Pigza Hardcover – July 24, 2007

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Starred Review. Grade 5–7—Irrepressible Joey must draw upon all of his emotional reserves to face his latest challenge. His good-for-nothing dad shows up, having won the lottery and acquired a new identity. Carter Pigza is now Charles Heinz; he's won back Joey's mother, Fran (renamed Maria); and Joey is expected to forgive him his past sins and reinvent himself as Freddy Heinz. Dad has big plans for the family. He's bought a run-down diner and will use his son to drum up business by standing by the roadside in a bee costume. Mom is on a spending spree and pressures Joey to forgive his father and do as he says. But Joey senses how wrong this is, and his struggle is palpable. By the time he concedes, his father has given up on the diner idea and has spent all of his money on losing lottery tickets. As usual, when the chips are down, Carter takes off, just as Fran is about to have a baby. Gantos tells the tale with unfailing humor, delicious wordplay, and many hilarious scenes, but this is the darkest Joey book to date. Carter's unreliability is a given, but Fran Pigza's willingness to buy into the surreal scene is unsettling and underscores the fact that Joey is really on his own. Nevertheless, readers will cheer as his indomitable spirit prevails; he neither rescinds nor regrets his forgiveness, and he is thrilled to have a baby brother. The appearance of Junior Pigza promises a new purpose in Joey's life, the possibility of a future ally in his crazy world, and, perhaps, adventures to come.—Marie Orlando, Suffolk Cooperative Library System, Bellport, NY
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

*Starred Review* In this fourth installment of the Joey Pigza series, life becomes even more complicated for the wired sixth-grader when bad dad Carter and mom Fran reconcile and, in an attempt to start anew, reinvent themselves as the high-living Charles and Maria Heinz. Aided by a small pool of lottery winnings, hyperactive Charles dreams of success as the owner of a bee-themed diner and enlists the cooking and PR talents of Joey, whose schooling is quickly eschewed for an oversize bee costume and a sign advertising "fast food."Joey struggles with forgiving Charles for their rocky past and embracing his new identity as Freddy Heinz, but it is the memory of his grandmother and news of a baby Heinz on the way that prompt him to accept his father and realize that the adults in his life may have just as much difficulty making the right choices as he does. Gantos' hilarious storytelling, including accounts of an over-the-top "rewedding," an all-out paintball war between father and son, and a thwarted attempt at sneaking into an amusement park help soften the more serious issues at play in the story. Although the ending is heartbreaking, Joey, assuming his old identity, learns to let go of the past and dedicates himself to being a good role model for his new baby brother. McKulski, Kristen

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 10 - 14 years
  • Grade Level: 5 and up
  • Lexile Measure: 950L (What's this?)
  • Series: Joey Pigza (Book 4)
  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR); First Edition edition (July 24, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0374399417
  • ISBN-13: 978-0374399412
  • Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 0.9 x 8.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #237,296 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By E. R. Bird HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on October 8, 2007
Format: Hardcover
A good author has the ability to piss off their fans. Pissing off fans is a delicate art, though. On the one hand, if you can emotionally engage your readers to the point where they are so invested in your characters that they consider them to be real people then you know you're a pretty darn good writer. On the other hand, you always run the risk of losing those same fans if they feel you're being needlessly cruel to the fictional people they've grown to know and love. "I Am Not Joey Pigza" walks this tightrope and I've heard strong opinions about it from all quarters. Some people are furious with what Gantos has done to Joey in this book. Other people just see it as a continuation of the stories they've already grown to know and love. To my own mind, this is one of those books where kids will read the story on one level and adults on another. William Faulkner once said of writing to, "Kill your darlings". Well nobody dies in this book, but Gantos definitely puts his hero, and his readers' emotions through the wringer. The result is probably one of the smartest little ole books about the nature of forgiveness I've read in a very long time.

Joey's been doing pretty well for a while now. He's taking his meds for his ADD regularly. His mom has been happy and he likes his newest teacher at school. Heck, things would be perfect if it weren't for his no good father Carter Pigza. One day Carter arrives at Joey's front door with some crazy news. He's won the lottery, has changed his name to Carter Heinz, and now he wants Joey and his mom to join him in his newest moneymaking scheme. Suddenly the boy is ripped out of his happy existence into "Carter's" nutty world. Joey is renamed Freddy Heinz and all the progress he's made is put to the test.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By LonestarReader on September 24, 2007
Format: Audio CD
I listened to the audio version of this new Joey book because there is just NOTHING BETTER than hearing these stories in Gantos's own voice. When I listened to What Would Joey Do? (Joey Pigza Books), tears poured down my face as I watched Joey care for his grandmother after she died. Gantos's tender and heartfelt reading of that scene still echoes in my heart.

I think the absence of his voice that is the reason I have not been able to get through my audio book of The Love Curse of the Rumbaughs--as anxious as I was to experience this macabre tale of taxidermy. Lisa Datz ably reads the story but I have found myself unable to get very far in it because I just can't take those "Gantos" moments without him. I will probably end up reading it because then I can supply his intonation in my imagination.

To have a new book appear in a series that we thought was at an end, is a treat. In this book Joey's "thought he was gone for good" father, Carter Pigza, has returned to pick up the reins of family-hood again. He has money because he won the lottery so the family is well off for the first time in their lives. Alas, we know these characters and we know they will not be able to handle it. In one of the most howling-ly funny wedding ceremonies ever, his parents remarry and in honor of their renewal as a family, they change their names to become new people. Carter has adopted Heinz ("You know, Heinz, like the catsup.") as a new surname and he wants Joey to change his identity to become Freddy Heinz.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Reading is my hobby on February 11, 2008
Format: Audio CD
Joey's got a problem. His no-good dad, Carter Pigza, is back in town, having won the lottery. He's changed his name, changed his tune, and he's swept Joey's mom Fran, off her feet again. Joey struggles with what he owes his father -- if you've read the the other books in the series, you know how bad Carter can be -- and finally decides to forgive him, an act of grace.

I like it when children's books tackle big issues in an age appropriate way. Kids will cheer for Joey, but they will also learn about forgiveness, starting over, karma, and how sometimes, setting a good example is a way of loving.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Tech Student on October 29, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Have you ever thought what would happen if you were wired to the core? Well, although it may sound like your worst nightmare, but Joey Pigza lives his entire life like that. He doesn't exactly have the best life either. His dad keeps running off and reappearing, claiming that he's "searching for karma, to win the lottery" and changes his name and attitude to "Charles Heinz". His mom is always out shopping for the baby she's expecting, earning money for the family, he's dropped out of school, his grandma recently passed away, and all he has for most of the time is himself, and his dogs. He's all alone in the crazy world.

Something really fascinating about the Joey Pigza series is how well crafted they are. Jack Gantos, the author of the series, is truly a funny author, and he made a fantastic series. If you haven't read the other books yet, then what are you waiting for? It's a fantastic series, and once you get into one book, you can't stop! The books go in order: Joey Pigza Swallowed The Key, Joey Pigza Loses Control, What Would Joey Do?, and of course, I Am Not Joey Pigza.
The books are filled with humor involving Joey's (main character) wired antics, some of which include: jumping out of a top story window with a refrigerator box on his head, shooting everything he sees with his paintball gun (including his own dog's rear end), running around in the highway trying to advertise his family's diner, throwing rocks at a car, trying to act like a boy named Freddy Heinz, getting into paintball wars with his dad, getting into trouble with his mom, messing around with his dogs, going through a "diner dash" trying to serve hungry people, and generally wreaking havoc!
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