Monday, January 31, 2011

Retro Book of the Week: The Pigman

The Pigman
by Paul Zindel

The Pigman is one of our protected and required books for seventh grade, so I figure that it is worth a mention as a retro book of the week. This is the story of Lorraine and John, two bored teenagers with unpleasant home lives. One day, while making prank phone calls posing as a fake charity organization asking for donations, John and Lorraine meet Mr. Angelo Pignati. The two quickly become friends with Mr. Pignati, and they begin spending most of their free time at his house. Mr. Pignati becomes a father figured to John and Lorraine, and he enjoys the youthful, carefree times that the trio spends together.

However, The Pigman is, overall, a dark novel. It is a novel about loneliness, grief, pain, deceit, and betrayal. Perhaps these themes are the reason why students today can still identify with the the characters in the novel more than forty years after it was written. Many of Paul Zindel's "retro" books remain popular today. In fact, Zindel was the winner of the ALA's 2002 Margaret A. Edwards award, which "honors an author, as well as a specific body of his or her work, for significant and lasting contribution to young adult literature."

I have read The Pigman with seventh grade students, and I can say from first hand experience that this is a great choice for bringing thought-provoking discussion and real emotions to the classroom. We have both individual copies and class sets available, as well as teaching guides and an audio recording. Check it out today @your library!

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