by Jerry Spinelli


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Newbery Honor Book * ALA Notable Children's Book

"Deeply felt. Presents a moral question with great care and sensitivity." —The New York Times

"A spellbinding story about rites of passage." —Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"A realistic story with the intensity of a fable." —The Horn Book (starred review)

"Thought-provoking." —School Library Journal (starred review)

In Palmer LaRue's hometown of Waymer, turning ten is the biggest event of a boy's life. But for Palmer, his tenth birthday is not something to look forward to but something to dread.

Then one day, a visitor appears on his windowsill, and Palmer knows that this, more than anything else, is a sign that his time is up. Somehow, he must learn how to stop being afraid and stand up for what he believes in.

Wringer is an unforgettable tour de force from Newbery Medal winner Jerry Spinelli.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780064405782
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 05/01/2018
Series: HarperClassics
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 256
Sales rank: 57,769
Product dimensions: 0.00(w) x 0.00(h) x (d)
Age Range: 8 - 12 Years

About the Author

Jerry Spinelli received the Newbery Medal for Maniac Magee and a Newbery Honor for Wringer. His other books include Stargirl; Love, Stargirl; Smiles to Go; Loser; Jake and Lily; Hokey Pokey; and The Warden’s Daughter. His novels are recognized for their humor and poignancy, and his characters and situations are often drawn from his real-life experience as a father of six children. Jerry lives with his wife, Eileen, also a writer, in Wayne, Pennsylvania.

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

He did not want to be a wringer.

This was one of the first things he had learned about himself. He could not have said exactly when he learned it, but it was very early. And more than early, it was deep inside. In the stomach, like hunger.

But different from hunger, different and worse. Because it was always there. Hunger came only sometimes, such as just before dinner or on long rides in the car. Then, quickly, it was gone the moment it was fed. But this thing, there was no way to feed it. Well, one way perhaps, but that was unthinkable. So it was never gone.

In fact, gone was something it could not be, for he could not escape it any more than he could escape himself. The best he could do was forget it. Sometimes he did so, for minutes, hours, maybe even for a day or two.

But this thing did not like to be forgotten. Like air escaping a punctured tire, it would spread out from his stomach and be everywhere. Inside and outside, up and down, day and night, just beyond the foot of his bed, in his sock drawer, on the porch steps, at the edges of the lips of other boys, in the sudden flutter from a bush that he had come too close to. Everywhere.

Just to remind him.

This thing, this not wanting to be a wringer, did it ever knock him from his bike? Untie his sneaker lace? Call him a name? Stand up and fight?

No. It did nothing. It was simply, merely there, a whisper of featherwings, reminding him of the moment he dreaded above all others, the moment when the not wanting to be a wringer would turn to becoming one.

In his dreams the moment had already come. In his dreams he looks down to find hishands around the neck of the pigeon. It feels silky. The pigeon's eye is like a polished shirt button. The pigeon's eye is orange with a smaller black button in the center. It looks up at him. It does not blink. It seems as if the bird is about to speak, but it does not. Only the voices speak: "Wring it! Wring it! Wring it!"

He cannot. He cannot wring it, nor can he let go. He wants to let go, desperately, but his fingers are stone. And the voices chant: "Wring it! Wring it!" and the orange eye stares.

Sometimes he wished it would come after him, chase him, this thing he did not want to be. Then at least he could run from it, he could hide. But the thing never moved. It merely waited. Waited for him to come to it.

And he would. He would come to it as surely as nine follows eight and ten follows nine. He would come to it without having to pedal or run or walk or even move a muscle. He would fall smack into the lap of it without doing anything but breathe. In the end he would get there simply by growing one day older.

Reading Group Guide


By Jerry Spinelli

About the Author

Jerry Spinelli is the author of the 1991 Newbery Medal-winning book Maniac Magee. His novels are regularly praised for their humor, poignancy, and realistic characters -- many of whom are drawn from his real-life experience as a father of six children. Jerry lives with his wife, Eileen, who is also a writer, in West Chester, Pennsylvania. He is a graduate of Gettysburg College.

About the Book

Not all birthdays are welcome. In Palmer's home town of Waymer, a boy's tenth birthday is more than just another birthday -- it is considered to be the biggest and most honorable day of his life. When a boy turns ten he has finally earned his place as a wringer at the town's annual Pigeon Day. On this day 5,000 pigeons are released into the sky only to be shot down by the town's men. It is the job of wringers to retrieve dead birds from the field and to wring the wounded birds' necks.

Although all proceeds from Pigeon Day go to pay for the town's park maintenance and he is assured that wringers "humanely" put the dying pigeons to death, Palmer cannot shake the dreadful feeling that he does not want to be a wringer. Unfortunately, '"this not wanting to be a wringer" conflicts directly with eh expectations of his clique of friends -- for them, being a wringer is the highest honor, an honor only a wimp would refuse. Not to be a wringer would mean going against his friends, his family, and the town and risking ostracism.

Palmer's life becomes further complicated when he befriends Nipper, a pigeon who likes to roost in his closet and sit atop his head. Now Palmer hasa very important reason to strike out against his friends and the town's traditional Pigeon Day. In this gripping and thought-provoking novel, Spinelli tells of one boy's courage to overcome peer pressure and unquestioned tradition -- to stand up for what he believes.

Questions for Discussion

  1. "This thing, this not wanting to be a wringer, did it ever knock him from his bike? Untie his sneaker lace? Call him a name? Stand up and fight?" (page 4). Although there is no physical reason why Palmer should refuse to become a wringer, and even though most ten-year-olds in his town consider it an honor, he abhors this tradition. Identify and discuss the reasons why Palmer does not want to be a wringer.
  2. Jerry Spinelli uses powerful descriptive images to evoke the scenes of Pigeon Day, everything from the bright red barbecue sauce on a spectator's lips to the smell of gunsmoke. What does this recurring image of gunsmoke tell us about Palmer's anxiety? What are some other memorable images in the novel and what do they signify?
  3. Do you believe Palmer's father when he tells Palmer "you can thank a pigeon for the swings at the playground" (page 57). Is Pigeon Day and the shooting of 5,000 birds a justified event simply because the proceeds go to pay for the park's maintenance? Can you name any other events where animals are injured or killed for sport and entertainment? Do you feel these events are justified?
  4. Consider Palmer's relationship with Beans, Mutto, and Henry. How does his relationship with them change over the course of the novel? In what ways is Henry different from the rest of the gang? Why does Palmer fear becoming more like Henry?
  5. Dorothy claims that Palmer is a hero in his attempt to save Nipper from the guys and Panther the cat. Discuss the term heroism. What qualities make a hero? Do you feel Palmer is a hero? Palmer's father? Dorothy?
  6. Why does Palmer feel compelled to ignore Dorothy or tease her in public when privately he holds much respect for her? Can you find any similarities between Palmer's friendship with Dorothy and his friendship with Nipper?
  7. Describe how Palmer must feel when he discovers that his father was a champion pigeon sharpshooter. Does this discovery present a new pressure on him to become a wringer?
  8. Palmer eventually defies the gang by shouting: "No nothing! No Treatment! No wringer! No Snots! My name is Palmer!" (p. 179). By refusing to take the abusive Treatment, refusing to be a wringer, and finally, by reclaiming his own name -- the name the guys used to pick on -- what has Palmer proved? How has he broken away from the group?
  9. Compare the different ways in which Palmer and Beans treat animals. Do you think that Beans respects animals? How about Palmer?
  10. Why does Palmer risk his reputation to befriend and care for Nipper? Discuss this question in the context of the following passage: "He thought of the pigeon flying over the snow-covered land, and he felt bad … He thought about somebody else feeding the pigeon, and he felt jealous. Then he felt nervous, realizing he was thinking of it as his pigeon, and what a dangerous thought that could be around here" (page 79).
  11. How does violence play a role in this story? Can you explain why anyone who receives Farquar's abusive and infamous 'Treatment" garners so much respect from the community and why the shooting of pigeons marks a time for celebration? What do you feel Spinelli is trying to show his readers about the nature of violence in society?

Customer Reviews

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Wringer 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 184 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Wringer was a great book! It made me have different emotions in every chapter! I was reading this in fourth grade and loved it! I would reccomend this book to anyone!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is amazing i reccomend this book to anyone, in fact i reccomend jerry spinelli to anyone!!!!!!!!!!!!! :)
kalieka More than 1 year ago
The name of the book that I am writing about is The Wringer. This book is by Jerry Spinelli. This book is a fanicey book. I picked this book because the back of the book sound good to me. The Wringer is about a boy named palmer who dose not want to join a compassion that happens every year at the park. A lot of people gather and ages 10-15 year olds shoot pigeons. You must talk a safety class before u can enter the compassion. I like this book because I can relate to the main idea of the story. My favor charter was "snots" aka palmer. I liked him because he was not like the others. My favorite part of this story was when the pigeon stats coming to palmer's window. I learn that just because every one else is doing does not mean you have to. I liked this book because it had a nice ending and he did not fall in to peer presser. I wood engorge 11-15 year olds to read this book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Can a boy have a pet pigeon in a town that hates pigeons, and keep it a secret? Wringer is another phenomenal heartfelt tale by the terrific author of Jerry Spinelli. This book is about a young kid named Palmer who dreads his 10th birthday. Everything is perfect in Palmer's world until one day an unexpected visitor is at his windowsill. Then his life changes for ever. His friends turn on him. His enemy's turn to friends. This amazing, twisting novel is a absolute must read. The author, Jerry Spenelli, had great descriptions. When describing Palmer's room or describing a character, he told us about it in such great detail. In one chapter it described bean's yellow, green and red multicolored teeth. In another chapter he described palmer's room with the white bird poop on the floor, the stack of knocked over comics, and a clumsy bird on his desk. One time the author described a dead muskrat in a frozen spaghetti container and the stench of it when heated up and the look on Mrs. Druzik face when she saw it. I liked the way I could clearly understand who, where or when the events happened and I could picture it. I liked the friendships in this story in this story between Nipper and Palmer. Although Palmer was a boy and Nipper was a pigeon in a town that hated pigeons their friendship was strong and they protected each other. Nipper came back to Palmer's window no matter what happened, because he trusted that Palmer would protect him. Nipper was almost blown to pieces at Family Fest during Pigeon Day, but Palmer jumped in front of the shooter. Almost everyone would not have a pigeon flying around in their room in a town that is the capitol of pigeons haters and publicize it on a day where you kill them. Jerry Spenelli used great detail and made great unique and interesting friendships. He made what a normal author would describe about a park into an amusement park and two complete different animals to seem like there one. This is one of the greatest tales in Jerry Spenelli's collection, you must read this book. Darth Vader, Chewbacca and Yoda are awsome I'm not a hacker
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very powerful
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
To those who said this book is dumb because it made you cry or "disgusting", it can't be dumb, if a book has the power to make you cry it must be good and all of the things in this book have a meaning. To the person reading this, it is not a waste of money if you like the author, most of his books are written in his style and his style is "odd". If you can get past the title and the grotesque parts you will see the book is about the boy, Palmer, and his life, not pigeons...
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a epic great book! I am reading this book with my class too. Even though,i do like birds,I think shooting and wringing pegioens is NOT cool. But I love this book. And I think you should recmonend this book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
My teacher made my class read this and so far it is sooooo good!!!! But there was some sad parts and funny parts!!! I live this book can not wait to finish!!!!"
lewis23 More than 1 year ago
Wringer was a very good book. It is about a boy named Palmer and his tenth birthday party that is coming up. I think Jerry Spinelli did a great job on the book and I hope he keeps on making more for the rest of his life. They are very interesting and I will read them all. This book is one everyone should read.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Wringer by Jerry Spinelli was a book I was very dissapointed in. I was generous in giving the book two stars. The Newbery Honor may have been the only thing keeping me from giving the book only one star. The book did not appeal to me at all and I doubt it would to any of my teenage peers. As a teenager, reading about being accepted in the 9 year-old crew while owning a pet pigeon is not very interesting. The story is about Palmer not wnting to become a wringer at the Family Fest. Ten year-olds can become wringers at the Family Fest in August. During the pigeon shooting contest the wringers go out and wring the necks of the suffering (not yet dead) pigeons. Since Palmer was little he did not like the pigeon shooting contest. His friends, however, have wanted to be wringers for as long as they can remember. Those friends are far from the most admirable of children. Many times Palmer describes Beans (the leader) as the kid with every color of the rainbow on at least one tooth in his mouth. Mutto and Henry are a part of the pack as well. Fitting in seems hard for Palmer, but his troubles compound when he adopts a pet pigeon, Nipper. He shares Nipper with Dorothy Gruzik, perhaps the only nice person in the book who slowly becomes Palmer's best friend. How will Palmer get out of his jam? Who cares?
AngMarWilson on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This novel is about a boy who is dreading his 10th Birthday. In the town where he grew up, boys become wringers on their 10th Birthday. Wringers are boys who break the neck of wounded pigeons. These pigeons are wounded on Pigeon Day when people pay money to shoot at these birds. Palmer wanted to be different and fought with his inner feelings about acceptance or individuality. He really doesn't want to become a wringer when he saves a pigeon and it becomes his pet.I think this book is a good book to explain that it is okay to be different and to always follow what you believe in. Its nice to have friends but true friends will not make you conform. Bullies are always a problem for school-aged children so this would be perfect to read.I would start a discussion with my classroom and tell them that it is okay to do what you believe in. As long as they are not breaking the rules or get in trouble. On the brighter side, I would start another discussion to see if any of my students have ever had a pet they loved dearly.
mrsdwilliams on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Palmer is not looking forward to his 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. He is squemish at the thought of killing a wounded pigeon in the first place, but after he rescues a stray one and keeps it as a pet, he doesn't know what to do. Should he bow to peer pressure or stand up for what he believes is right?The whole concept of this book just seemed kind of icky to me. I'm not a fan of Lord of the Flies, either. I much preferred Stargirl and its sequel, Love Stargirl.
beckyhill on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Palmer LaRue is supposed to become a pigeon wringer when he turns ten like every other boy in his town, but when a pigeon shows up at his bedroom window, he changes how things work in his town. Palmer is very easy for young people to associate with, as he gets picked on a lot and is unsure of his future. The setting is not determined, which makes it more applicable to the average youth. The theme is to not be afraid of being different, and you can control your future. Spinelli's style is accurate to the situation and the readers. I would include this in my collection.
Whisper1 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This 1998 Newbery honor book is powerful, poignant and hauntingly beautiful. This is a remarkable story of peer and social pressure, the courage to sort through the quagmire of self doubt until the mud clears and what remains is a crystal clear reflection of self acceptance.Sensitive, animal loving nine year old Palmer LaRue passionately dreads the arrival of his tenth birthday. The rite of passage in his small town is to become a wringer -- a wringer of the necks of pigeons still alive after being shot at by the local townsmen. The annual pigeon day is a huge event and Palmer has a decision to make -- should he become a "man," or should he stand alone and say no.Wanting desperately to belong, Palmer abandons his long-term friendship of a neighborhood girl and initially finds a sense of belonging by becoming a member of the in crowd of male bullies where the rite of acceptance is a birthday brutal punch in the arm for every year. Like a medal of honor, Palmer proudly displays his horrific bruises obtained at the hands of a much larger, older boy.Soon, Palmer realizes that he is uncomfortable with both the peers who emotionally and physically harm and the townspeople who once a year maim and kill 5,000 helpless birds.Spinelli does a masterful job of weaving various emotions swirling inside Palmer, especially as Palmer discovers a pigeon on his windowsill and develops a loving relationship with the animal.Returning to his neighborhood friend, he accepts the softer side of himself and once again embraces his friend Dorothy as together they feed and love the animal at the risk of discovery by the bullies and the townspeople.Parker's mother and father are portrayed in a loving way, and his mother in particular shines like a beacon.This book was particularly powerful because of the way the author used the softness of animals and females to guide Parker in his realization that while it is hard to risk non acceptance, it is harder still to say no to what is good, pure and right.Highly recommended. Five Stars!!!
HippieLunatic on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is an endearing story of a boy who learns to stand up for himself. There were moments of compassion and moments of torment, both depicted with clarity and a true understanding of childhood. I loved the characterization of both male and female characters, as well as parent and child.
kswanteck on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book tells the story of Palmer, a boy who must decide to succumb to peer pressure or stand up for what he believes in. I'm pretty sure I read this book in elementary school, but I think the ideas could also translate to high school. What high schooler hasn't felt peer pressure? There could be many discussions about peer pressure in general and what to do when it happens. I think it would be a good conversation starter, even if we weren't necessarily talking about the details of the book.
tshrum06 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I would classify this as realistic fiction. It is about a society that could exist, in which their sport is shooting pigeons on a festival day. I don¿t know of any society like this in real life, but the concept is not completely unbelievable and the characters are relatable. Students will be able to relate to feeling lonely and being bullied and wanting to be accepted in their culture.Age Appropriateness: MiddleMedia: N/A
Omrythea on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This troubling story about meanness, peer pressure and living up to others' expectations might be well-received by many boys. I, myself, did not like it that much. Poor pigeons!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Good book its ok not one of my favrites but if i was intrested in it then thats good enough for me
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
1. I like big butts and I cannot lie 2. I like big butts and I cannot lie 3. I like big butts and I cannot lie 4. I like big butts and I cannot lie 5. I like big butts and I cannot lie
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Kiss hand three times and post on tree differanr books
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I had to read it for school and i loved it
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Goos my favourite
Anonymous More than 1 year ago