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Wringer Paperback – September 7, 2004

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Editorial Reviews Review

Newbery Medal-winning author Jerry Spinelli tells a story of peer pressure so foul, so horrifying, that Wringer should be shelved along with Robert Cormier's The Chocolate War. Nine-year-old Palmer dreads his upcoming 10th birthday. In his town, when boys are 10 years old they become "wringers," the boys who wring the necks of wounded pigeons at the annual Pigeon Day shoot. Palmer is sickened by the whole event. To make matters worse, his new buddies--Beans, Mutto, and Henry--have just discovered that Palmer has been hiding a pet pigeon in his room. What will Palmer do? Will he become a wringer to save face, or will he follow his heart? Wringer will appeal to preteens and younger teens who love to read suspenseful books on their own, but it would also be a good story to read aloud to spark discussion about the perils and nuances of peer pressure. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From School Library Journal

Palmer dreads his 10th birthday, when he will become a "wringer," trained to wring the necks of pigeons gunned down in an annual shooting contest. The thought of killing the birds sickens him, as does the bullying behavior of his three buddies. When Palmer makes a pet of a stray pigeon, he struggles to find the courage needed to confront his peers and act according to his conscience. A moral drama sure to engage young readers and promote classroom discussion. A Newbery Honor selection.
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 8 - 12 years
  • Grade Level: 8 and up
  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: HarperTeen; Reissue edition (September 7, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060592826
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060592820
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 0.6 x 6.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (331 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #850,489 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Growing up, Jerry Spinelli was really serious about baseball. He played for the Green Sox Little League team in his hometown of Norristown, Pennsylvania, and dreamed of one day playing for the major leagues, preferably as shortstop for the New York Yankees.

One night during high school, Spinelli watched the football team win an exciting game against one of the best teams in the country. While everyone else rode about town tooting horns in celebration, Spinelli went home and wrote "Goal to Go," a poem about the game's defining moment, a goal-line stand. His father submitted the poem to the Norristown Times-Herald and it was featured in the middle of the sports page a few days later. He then traded in his baseball bat for a pencil, because he knew that he wanted to become a writer.

After graduating from Gettysburg College with an English degree, Spinelli worked full time as a magazine editor. Every day on his lunch hour, he would close his office door and craft novels on yellow magazine copy paper. He wrote four adult novels in 12 years of lunchtime writing, but none of these were accepted for publication. When he submitted a fifth novel about a 13-year-old boy, adult publishers once again rejected his work, but children's publishers embraced it. Spinelli feels that he accidentally became an author of children's books.

Spinelli's hilarious books entertain both children and young adults. Readers see his life in his autobiography Knots in My Yo-Yo String, as well as in his fiction. Crash came out of his desire to include the beloved Penn Relays of his home state of Pennsylvania in a book, while Maniac Magee is set in a fictional town based on his own hometown.

When asked if he does research for his writing, Spinelli says: "The answer is yes and no. No, in the sense that I seldom plow through books at the library to gather material. Yes, in the sense that the first 15 years of my life turned out to be one big research project. I thought I was simply growing up in Norristown, Pennsylvania; looking back now I can see that I was also gathering material that would one day find its way into my books."

On inspiration, the author says: "Ideas come from ordinary, everyday life. And from imagination. And from feelings. And from memories. Memories of dust in my sneakers and humming whitewalls down a hill called Monkey."

Spinelli lives with his wife and fellow writer, Eileen, in West Chester, Pennsylvania. While they write in separate rooms of the house, the couple edits and celebrates one another's work. Their six children have given Jerry Spinelli a plethora of clever material for his writing.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

42 of 46 people found the following review helpful By Michael J. Mazza HALL OF FAME on November 5, 2001
Format: Paperback
Jerry Spinelli's "Wringer" is one of a very special class of books: a novel that is marketed to younger readers, but which also has much to offer adults. This is a powerful and hauntingly beautiful book.
"Wringer" takes place in the rural town of Waymer, a community known for a yearly event: Pigeon Day, during which sharpshooters fire at pigeons as they are released from cages. Those unfortunate birds which fall to the ground wounded, but not killed, have their necks wrung by boys known as "wringers." Traditionally, a Waymer boy becomes a wringer at age ten.
The novel follows the story of a Waymer boy named Palmer who does not want to become a wringer, but faces intense peer pressure to join in the tradition. "Wringer" is an intense study of social pressure, gender roles among children, bullying, and the rationalization of violence. The book also contains a memorable portrait of one very special human-animal "friendship." Palmer is a compelling hero, and Spinelli's stark writing style has a lyrical beauty which reminded me of Ernest Hemingway. Particularly interesting is Spinelli's use of symbolism involving popular culture icons. This is a remarkable novel which I recommend highly to readers of all ages.
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21 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Sarah Horton on April 25, 2001
Format: Paperback
Mills, Claudia. "The Structure of the Moral Dilemma in Shiloh." Children's Literature 1999: 185-196. Spinelli, Jerry. Wringer. New York: HarperCollins, 1997. The novel Wringer tells the story of Palmer LaRue, a young boy who faces a number of crucial decisions. The book takes place within a little over a year. Palmer celebrates his 9th birthday in the first half, then his 10th birthday in the second half. Palmer's group of friends consists of three boys, Beans, Mutto and Henry. The boys' main goal during their childhood is to become a wringer. A wringer is a young boy, 10 years of age, whose job is to break the necks of pigeons who aren't completely shot and killed during the annual pigeon shooting contest in their town. The only problem is that, Palmer dreads his 10th birthday because the last thing he wants is to become a wringer. Throughout the novel, Palmer faces this moral dilemma, and he must decide whether he should please his friends, his parents, society, or himself. Claudia Mills explains this struggle when she comments that; " children are trying to sort through their moral obligations against a background of their parents' beliefs...and transmitted beliefs of their culture"(185). Palmer's gang of friends all desire to be wringers, with the exception of Henry who just plays along so that Beans and Mutto will accept him. Since they constantly put pressure on Palmer to be "cool," Palmer goes along with them to be accepted not only by his friends, but by society as well. The pigeon-shooting contest is a known tradition in the town where Palmer lives and he thinks something is wrong with him since he doesn't like the activity. He exclaims, " I'm going to be ten in 71 days, and then I'm going to have to be a wringer and I don't want to.Read more ›
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 24, 2004
Format: Paperback
This book is one of the best books ever written, definetely one of Jerry Spinelli's best books. It is such a great book to do a book report on, or read out loud in class! It made me laugh, cry, and sometimes both at the same time :-)! My favorite part? DEFINETELY THE ENDING. Please note: do not skip to the ending otherwise it will spoil it for you. Some people get confused in the beginning but, THINK AGAIN. I noticed some of the reviewers were complaining about it being "hard to understand".If you are thinking that, it's really easy to understand. The only thing Spinelli is doing is comparing Palmer's tenth birthday to an actual living thing, which is very clever in my opinion. I don't think there are too many gory parts, it's mostly about Palmer's forbidden pet and how Palmer tries to fit in with a group of boys, doing crazy things just to be with them. I would recommend this book to ANYBODY. I did not expect such a wonderful book when i bought it. Thank you, Jerry Spinelli, for giving me such a wonderful reading expierience!!!:-)READ THIS BOOK NOW! IT'S A DEFINITE READ FOR SPRING, SUMMER, FALL OR/AND WINTER. I'm already reading it for the 8th time, you'll love it!
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15 of 18 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 4, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Wringer is a great book for the upper elementary student. It is about a boy named Palmer who faces many real challenges is his life. He is dreading the day of his tenth birthday because that is the day he will become a wringer. In the town that he lives in they have an annual pigoen shooting day. Boys ten and up must run out onto the field and wring the necks of the wounded pigeons. Palmer thinks this is terrible and he doesn't think that he can be a part of this tradition. During the time before his birthday he gets invovled with a gang. This gang pressures him into things he doesn't want to do. It is an excellent story of peer pressure. Then one day a pigeon comes to his window and ends up being his house pet. This has to be kept secret from his friends or they might kill the pigeon. He confides in his neighbor Dorothy, who helps him keep his secret. Palmer's birthday is fast approaching and he must make a decision. A decision to follow the crowd or do what he feels is right in his heart. A great story of a boy's inner struggles to do the right thing.
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