by Jerry Spinelli and Cliff Nielsen

Palmer is dreading his tenth birthday. In his community, ten-year-old boys become... read more

Palmer is dreading his tenth birthday. In his community, ten-year-old boys become wringers in the annual pigeon shoot and must twist the necks of the pigeons who are shot but haven't died. Palmer knew from a very young age that he didn't want to be a wringer, but he's afraid to tell anyone. Among his friends, becoming a wringer is an important rite of passage; as serious as submitting to the brutal birthday punches of the legendary wringer Farquar, or bestowing Palmer with his nickname, Snots. And his parents have never seemed to question that Palmer would be a wringer like his father was before him. In this atmosphere of expectation, there is no one Palmer can turn to without facing ridicule, or worse. Already haunted by dreams-- nightmares--of being a wringer, Palmer's stress is heightened when he befriends a pigeon outside his bedroom window and then must keep this secret, too, from his family and friends, along with concern for the pigeon's safety. In a challenging, powerful novel that documents the tense year between Palmer's ninth and tenth birthdays, Jerry Spinelli looks at the cruel and chilling way that children often treat each other, and the fear and anxiety that can isolate them from the caring adults in their lives as a young boy struggles to find enough courage to take a stand on his own behalf. (Ages 10-14)

© Cooperative Children's Book Center, Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison, 1997

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