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Petey Paperback – January 1, 1900

4.7 out of 5 stars 125 customer reviews

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--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

A writer admired for fast-paced adventure stories like Stranded and Sparrow Hawk Red takes on a more serious topic in this novel about the relationship between a teenager and a man mistakenly institutionalized for much of his life. Part one of the novel relates Petey's "backstory": in 1922, at the age of two, his distraught parents commit him to the state's insane asylum, unaware that their son is actually suffering from severe cerebral palsy. Petey avoids withdrawal and depression despite the horrific conditions in his new "home" and, over the course of 60 years, a string of caretakers befriends but then leaves him. The point of view in part two shifts from Petey to Trevor, an eighth-grader suffering from both lack of friends and lack of parental attention after a series of moves. Trevor finds the answer to his needs in an unlikely friendship with the 70-year-old Petey, who has moved to a nursing home. Mikaelson capably highlights the abuses and prejudices suffered by those stricken with cerebral palsy, but teeters dangerously over the line between poignancy and sentimentality. At its best, the third-person narration makes readers privy to the thoughts of the two protagonists, but more often it keeps them at bay ("As people escaped civilization to enjoy the solitude of a mountain peak, so also did many of the patients' minds escape existence and find solitude beyond the reaches of the ward"). As a result, the characters never really come to life beyond their roles as symbolsAPetey that of the power of the human spirit, Trevor that of the tolerant, unprejudiced do-gooder. A novel that never meets the promise of its compelling premise. Ages 10-up.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From School Library Journal

Grade 7 Up-This ambitious book succeeds on a number of levels. It is based on a true, tragic situation in which Petey, born with cerebral palsy in 1920, is misdiagnosed as mentally retarded. Unable to care for him at home, his parents relinquish him to the care of the state, where he languishes in a mental institution for the next five decades. Step by institutional step, readers see how this tragedy could happen. More importantly, readers feel Petey's pain, boredom, hope, fear, and occasional joy. A handful of people grow to know and love him over the course of his long and mostly difficult life, but few are able to effect much change. In 1977, statewide reorganization and a new, correct diagnosis result in Petey being moved to a local nursing home. There, the final, triumphant chapters of his life are entwined with an eighth-grade student named Trevor, who finds his own life transformed by love and caring in ways he never could have imagined. Mikaelsen successfully conveys Petey's strangled attempts to communicate. He captures the slow passage of time, the historical landscape encompassed. He brings emotions to the surface and tears to readers' eyes as time and again Petey suffers the loss of friends he has grown to love. Yet, this book is much more than a tearjerker. Its messages-that all people deserve respect; that one person can make a difference; that changing times require new attitudes-transcend simplistic labels. Give this book to anyone who has ever shouted "retard" at another. Give it to any student who "has" to do community service. Give it to anyone who needs a good book to read.
Joel Shoemaker, Southeast Jr. High School, Iowa City, IA
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 8 - 12 years
  • Grade Level: 3 - 7
  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Disney-Hyperion; 1 edition (April 3, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0786813369
  • ISBN-13: 978-0786813360
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 7.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (125 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,902,480 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Misdiagnosed as an idiot and locked in a body twisted by cerebral palsy, Petey is subjected to the inhumanity of a mental asylum for most of his childhood and adult years. He makes a friend with another child who is also in the adult ward and the two of them forge a friendship that defies their respective disabilities. A series of compassionate people come in and out of their lives to brighten their bleak existance and eventually, they are separated and sent to other placements as older adults. Years later, in a nursing home in Montana, Petey is reluctantly befriended by Trevor, a lonely teenage boy. In Petey, Trevor finds a bond he does not have with his own parents, and is determined to help reunite him with his lost friend. This story celebrates the strength of the human spirit as the author recounts in fictional form the remarkable life of a very real person. Mikaelsen expertly portrays the need to treat all people with respect and dignity and how the power of compassion and friendship can bring joy and meaning to both parties.
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Format: Paperback
When Petey Corbin was born in 1920, very little was known about cerebral palsy. Trapped inside a body that he cannot control and a tongue that protrudes, Petey was committed to an insane asylum in Warm Springs Montana bearing the diagnosis of idiot. Once he is turned over to the state at age two, he never sees his family again.

Petey's life is marked by a series of shift changes. Once admitted to the Infants' Ward where he resides for the first decade of his life, he meets an angel. The angel is a young ward worker named Esteban who responds to Petey and knows this child is no idiot. The two bond and Petey learns to nod his head and respond to words. Esteban brings Petey chocolates and sadly loses his job after he tells a group of visitors not to talk about the young residents in their presence or call them freaks. "They are NOT freaks," Esteban tells them. "They are poor children!" Sadly, he is fired for taking this stand. That was in 1927.

Petey languishes for a few years after Esteban's departure and, for the first time in several years is taken outside. This trip is his transfer from the Infants' Ward to the Mens' Ward where he will receive total skilled nursing care. Sadly, it is not an appropriate placement for this child as many of his ward mates suffer from a variety of mental illnesses.

Fate intervenes; in the late 1930s a boy named Calvin was found freezing and abandoned outside the asylum doors. Admitted to Mens' Ward, he and Petey become good friends. Both wheelchair bound, the boys talk to each other with Calvin serving as Petey's interpreter. They even make pets out of the mice who come to eat scraps and crumbs.
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Format: Paperback
Petey is one of the most touching stories I've ever read and one of my all-time favorite children's novels. I'm a young middle school teacher, and I read 100+ YA/children's chapter books every year, but I keep coming back to this one. If there was one book I could recommend that everyone read, it would be Petey. I get teary just thinking of this story...that is how real Mikaelsen made Petey to his readers. Petey is the story of a baby, who becomes a boy, who becomes a man, with cerebral palsy. Petey's capacity for love will reach down and grab hold of you in a real way. This became "the book to read" last year for my 7th and 8th graders (who saw me crying once when I was reading it, and of course were fascinated!), both for boys and girls. Some of my "toughest" boys admitted to everyone that they cried while reading it, and challenged other boys to try it and see if they didn't cry. But the tears you'll cry for Petey aren't all of sadness; some are tears of happiness, of triumph...and there is also plenty of laughter in this story. What an important story to share with kids, as they develop love and understanding for people who are different than them! And what a wonderful story for adults to remember what life is really about.
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By A Customer on December 11, 2000
Format: Paperback
This book Petey by Ben Mikaelsen truly captures how just one person can make such a huge difference in somebody's life. In this book a baby in 1920 gets miss-diagnosed as an idiot and got placed in a mental institution. Throughout Petey's life he meets tons of people, many of them care for Petey and he cared for them too. But, when Petey gets older he has to get transferred to an old age home. There he meets a teenage boy who learns to care for Petey . This book makes you want to reach out and help someone, it makes you strive to be a better friend. Find out how all of Petey's relationships grow and at the end of the book you also will care for Petey. Every one should read this book. It keeps you wanting to read more; you practically can't put this book down. You want to know what happens to Petey in his lifetime, and you also want to know if his illness gets better or worse. Ben Mikaelsen wrote this book extremely descriptive; it feels like you are in the story. You are in touch with the character's feelings. The topic of this story is cerebral palsy. It is a topic that you normally would not read about, but this book is not only appealing you actually learn about the sickness, cerebral palsy. I know some people disagree with me and they don't like this book, because they think it is slow. This book may start out slow in the beginning for some people, but as it continues it gets better and better. This book would not be appropriate for younger children, because it has some words that are hard to understand, and also some concepts that may not yet have been introduced to younger children. Dealing with an illness is also hard for young children to understand.Read more ›
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