Wringer - Nebo School District

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Title: Wringer (Jerry Spinelli). Quick summary: This book is about a young boy, Palmer, who tries being like the other boys in his town, a wringer. He has always  ...
Title: Wringer (Jerry Spinelli) Quick summary: This book is about a young boy, Palmer, who tries being like the other boys in his town, a wringer. He has always feared turning 10 because unlike everyone his age, he does not want to be a wringer. Palmer does what he can to fit in and becomes a person he does not know. He gains the courage he needs to stand up for what he knows is right and what makes him the happiest. Possible Reading Assignments: (8 days) 1:






Summary Opening News Article

Ch. 1 Pgs. 3-5

Ch. 2 Pgs. 6-10

Ch. 3 Pgs. 11-14

Ch.4 Pgs. 15-18

Pigeon Day is coming. Shooters from all around come to compete and gain a coveted trophy. Pigeons in boxes are let loose and shot. The pigeons are picked up by Wringer boys, who break the necks of the wounded ones, and sell the pigeons for fertilizer. Last year 4,000 people came to the event. He does not want to be a wringer, but this is not something that he can get away from. It‟s not a bully or something he can run from, he has no choice. Eventually the dreadful day will come when he is a wringer. Bean, Mutto, and Henry come over to Palmer‟s to celebrate his birthday. He was very nervous that they would not come. Palmer‟s mother doesn‟t like Beans, she says-and is right-that he has a mean streak. Bean is the leader/boss of the kids on the street. The presents contained: a rotting apple core, old sock, and a cigar butt. His mom gave him a soccer ball, book, sneakers and a monopoly game. Palmer got his nickname: Snots and wonders if later that day he will get The Treatment. Beans blows out Palmer‟s birthday candles but he doesn‟t care because he is now part of their group. During the mini party, Bean went to the bathroom three times. On his fourth trip Palmer‟s mother grabbed his arm and announced that the party was over. The boys went outside and kicked the soccer ball around for a while. They started calling for fishface; when she didn‟t come out they decided to leave her a little present. Fishface is the name that Beans gave to Dorothy Gruzik. They placed mud and sticks on her doorstep and ran off. Palmer was filled with excitement because it was his first run with the boys. The boys want to go to the park. Palmer hates the park—especially the soccer field, in 4 weeks it would become a place of horror. They boys are acting out the shooting contest. Henry is the



Difficult Vocabulary

3: wringer

9: wick

Purpose for reading/Comp. Strategy

Connection: Have you ever had something in your life that you absolutely dreaded, but no matter what, knew it was coming? Why does Palmer like the boys so much if they are rude and bullies? What is The Treatment? How does Palmer feel now that he has a nickname?

13: harassed

How do you think Palmer‟s mother feels about his new friends? Is he going to stay friends with these boys and become like them?

16: rollicking 17: meekest

Why doesn‟t Palmer like the soccer field?

Ch. 5 Pgs. 19-25

Ch. 6 Pgs. 26-32

Ch. 7 Pgs. 33-37

Ch. 8 Pgs.

Ch. 9 Pgs.

Ch.10 Pgs.

pigeon, the other boys shooters and wringers. Palmer does not participate. At the sliding board, Palmer brakes all the playground rules from his mother. Farquar is on the monkey bars, starring at the kids. He is a legendary wringer and the most feared kid in town. Palmer realized he was about to receive The Treatment. Some kids didn‟t get The Treatment on their birthdays; others would hide for a month to avoid Farquar. There was also honor and respect given to the boys who get The Treatment. Farquar made a mark on Palmer‟s arm; he bunched up his fist and sticks out his middle knuckle. Palmer gets hit nine times, immense pain shoots through his body. Palmer‟s mother wonders what the bruise on his arm is from. His father explains The Treatment, and says that he even received it a few times when he was young. Palmer received 27 toy soldiers from his dad. They have been handed down from his great-grandfather through the generations. While brushing his teeth, he started sobbing and fell asleep crying. Palmer became famous; kids would come from all around town to see his arm. When the bruise started to disappear he was sad. Dorothy is the only one who ignores Palmer, and it bugged him. She was hurt that she wasn‟t invited to his party. He tried to talk to her but she continued to play hopscotch as if he wasn‟t there. Next time the boys came by to taunt her, he did not feel as bad. Family Fest runs from Monday through Saturday. There are games and a lot of fun until the shooting pigeons on the last day. When Palmer was four was the first time he had seen a wringer kill a pigeon at the festival. He has never forgotten that day. Palmer came to the conclusion that all pigeons were in misery, even before they are shot. His father was a wringer and he will be one when he is ten. When Palmer was five he attended his second pigeon day with Dorothy. He explained to Dorothy how the contest goes and what the wringers do. She ran away. The next year Dorothy and Palmer played on the playground. Arthur, who will later go by Beans, made fun of them for not wanting to watch. Arthur would run on the field and try to wring the pigeons, but was chased off by real wringers. One pigeon fell away from the field and Arthur wrung its neck. Mutto‟s real name is Billy and Henry was a new kid in town. At weird times Palmer would smell the gun smoke from Pigeon

How do you think Farquar chooses who gets The Treatment on their birthday?

27: hoodlums 30: wonderment

Connection: Is there anything of your parents that you will someday receive and then someday give to a child of yours?

36: befuddled

What is lurking and “chasing” Palmer?

39: bewildered

Why does Palmer feel differently about the shooting contest than other people? How do you think his father felt when he was a wringer?

How did Palmer feel about pigeons the first time he saw them, other than in the competitions?

Ch. 11 Pgs.

Ch. 12 Pgs.59-64

Ch. 13 Pgs. 67-70

Ch. 14 Pgs. 71-75

Ch. 15 Pgs. 76-81

Ch. 16 Pgs. 82-87

Day. When Palmer was eight his family went on vacation and Palmer saw pigeons up close for the first time. His father has a golden pigeon in their living room. The inscription says „Sharpshooter Award 1989‟. Palmer usually loves Family Fest, but this year he could not enjoy it. Palmer‟s father explains to him about Pigeon Day. Only people who pay are allowed to shoot the pigeons and the money goes to make the park better. It‟s Friday. The boys decided to meet the next day at the park by the WWI canyon at six. That night Palmer decided that he would pretend sick so he didn‟t have to go. In a dream millions of pigeons picked up Palmer‟s town and flew away with it. When Palmer woke up Beans and Mutto were in his bed. They all climbed out the window and ran down the alleyways. Palmer had never been out so late or with out a parent before. He was a very obedient child, but he felt honor being with the boys breaking rules. They brought him to where all the pigeons are kept. They were ripping open a crate. Palmer turned and ran all the way home. The next day he faked sick and stayed in bed. For Christmas Palmer got a new sled but it didn‟t snow for the rest of the year. His father said they should trick the weather so they packed the sled away. By 7:00 it was snowing. The next day, the last day of winter vacation, was a huge blizzard. School was canceled for the next day. All the kids went to Valentine Hill to sled. Before school he awoke to a tapping at his window. It was a pigeon. Palmer got ready for school extra quickly to get out of his house; he was ten minutes early to meet his friends. Dorothy was walking behind them to school. They attacked her with snowballs. Palmer decided he couldn‟t be friends with her and the boys at the same time. After school they went sledding again at Valentine‟s Hill. At night he looked out the window for the pigeon. There were only tracks but no bird. The next morning the pigeon was back. Palmer brought a handful of cereal upstairs to feed the pigeon. After school he ran home, but there was no pigeon. He was jealous of the thought of someone else feeding his pigeon. At sun down, the pigeon was back. Palmer couldn‟t find any food in his room and was afraid he would fly away so he opened the window. The bird walked in Palmer‟s room. It moved around checking things out. His mother came in

What do people do at Family Fest besides shoot pigeons? Prediction: Will Palmer‟s plan work?

61: skirting

In what ways has Palmer changed since his birthday? What will the boys think since he didn‟t attend pigeon day?

69: quadruple, weary, ladled

What will Palmer do to the pigeon? Why is it there?

71: lobbed 73: ambush, barrage

Will the bird be back in the morning?

76: groggies, hem 80: spewing

What do you know about birds and animals? If they are fed, are they more likely to return? What would Beans, Mutto, and Henry do if they find his bird?

82: pudgy

Connection to Character: Have you ever felt the

Ch. 17 Pgs. 88-93

Ch. 18 Pgs. 94-97

Ch. 19 Pgs. 96-98

Ch. 20 Pgs.99-104

Ch. 21 Pgs.105-108

Ch. 22 Pgs. 109-116

but Palmer quickly asked about dinner and together they walked out of the room. When he came back after dinner the bird was asleep in the closet. Palmer went about his normal activities only much quieter. When his mother came in to say goodnight, he asked her to start knocking before she entered. For the first time he wasn‟t the only sleeper in his room. He didn‟t turn on the night light. Palmer woke up to the pigeon nibbling his earlobe. He stole a pigeon book from the library to learn more about his new pet. He tried to find out why people shoot pigeons, but couldn‟t understand. He named the bird Nipper because it nips at everything. He and Nipper now have a routine they do everyday. The hardest part is to act normal. It was hard to act normal, especially because of the golden pigeon that sat on their mantel. Palmer told his mother that he would change his own sheets, clean his room, and empty his waste basket. In reality: he was acting anything but normal. Palmer is worried about his friends accidentally coming upon his secret. Palmer uses any excuse he can come up with to keep the boys out of his house. If he couldn‟t think of an excuse he would use Dorothy to move the attention. One day when there was no snow and nothing to do to Dorothy Palmer suggested they go to Bean‟s. Despite what Palmer had pictured, Beans lives in a normal house. In the freezer, Beans pulled out a “He-man” box. The box contained a frozen muskrat that his cat, Panther, had brought in one day. Henry tells Palmer that Panther is the meanest cat in town. You can‟t pet it and it is always biting off the heads of birds and mice and bringing the carcass to Beans. Beans de-thawed the muskrat in the microwave, nailed it to Dorothy‟s door and rang the doorbell. Mrs. Gruzik opened the door. She screamed and shut the door. The boys were cracking up, when they looked at the sky and saw a pigeon. Beans ran after the pigeon but it got away. Mutto pointed out that they pigeon was flying over Palmer‟s house. Palmer denied every seeing a pigeon. After that day, he became more attached to his pigeon. Palmer was waiting for a consequence from the muskrat experience. When that day did come, it was not what he expected. Treestumping caught on at school. Girls and boys, except for Dorothy, were doing it to each

warm giggley, I‟ve got a secret feeling like Palmer?

89: coaxed, aquainted

Connection: Have you ever been excited about a pet that you wanted to learn all about them? Why didn‟t Palmer just check out the library book?

94: stupendous 95: maturity

What excuse does Palmer give his mother for the new „independence‟ that he asks for? Does his mom fall for his excuse?

96: scenarios, trespass 97: infested, divert

What does Palmer do to keep his friends out of his house? Can you think of a better way to keep his secret hidden? What is treestumping?

99: lean-to, primitive 102: Technicolor, ambling

Prediction: What will the boys do to the pigeon? Will Palmer stop them, revealing his secret, or let the pigeon die so they never know?

108: reluctant

Foreshadowing: At the end of the chapter the author leads into something happening. What do you think it is?

110: herkyjerking 111: smoldered,

Why is Dorothy most hurt by Palmer when

Ch. 23 Pgs.119-122

Ch. 24 Pgs.123-131

Ch. 25 Pgs.132-135

Ch. 26 Pgs.136-144

other. Beans did not like the fact that they received no recognition from Dorothy. They treestumped her all the way home from school one day and she still did nothing. Everyday Beans would try to bug her more. He stole her hat, dumped beans on her shoe, flailed his arms; nothing worked. Nothing happened until one day Beans was standing right in front of her. Finally she moved, walked up to Palmer and asked, “Why are you doing this to me?” She was crying, and he realized that after all this time she was hurting, and it was him who had hurt her most. The next day Nipper didn‟t return. Palmer was very worried and didn‟t leave his room. When he woke up the next morning, Nipper was tapping at his window sill. When Nipper flew away that afternoon Palmer could no longer keep it inside. He ran to Dorothy‟s house; as soon as she opened the door he announced that he had a pigeon. It is Bean‟s tenth birthday. After singing, having cake, and opening presents, he sets out looking for Farquar to receive The Treatment. When he can‟t find Farquar, Beans becomes frantic. After The Treatment was given Beans showed no sign of pain. He finally felt 10 and was proud to be a wringer. Palmer realized that in three months he would be a wringer as well. Ever since Palmer told Dorothy about Nipper she has started coming over more often. She stays away at school and when the boys are around though, and they have grown tired of tormenting her. Palmer relates his feelings for Dorothy as floating—he knew he could let go and she would hold him up. Palmer told Dorothy everything, how he doesn‟t want to be a wringer, she doesn‟t look like a fish, sorry for treestumping her…While he was going on and on about how he did not want to be a wringer, Dorothy pulled him in close and kissed his nose. They went back to playing. On a beautiful spring day, the boys are walking away from the school trying to decide what they should do. Palmer feels a familiar pair of feet on his head. Nipper. The boys accuse Palmer of being the owner of the pigeon. He tries to convince them that he hates pigeons and will be the best wringer ever.

intercepted 113: silhouette

Palmer tells Dorothy about the boys and is very worried that Nipper will find him again in front of them. He puts on many layers, trying to disguise himself from the bird. Palmer wishes that school would last forever, he even asked the teacher to keep him after school. He told the teacher he spit on the floor but she wasn‟t going

136: agitated 140: conscience 141: lunger

Beans does most of the mean things to her? Character Analysis: Why do you think Dorothy hid her emotions for so long? What does that tell us about her character? Palmer could no longer keep his secret. Why do you think he decided to tell Dorothy? What will she do with the information?

119: raucous 120: condemn

The next part of the book is called Featherfall. What do you think the meaning is? Why does Beans want to receive The Treatment so bad?

What does Palmer mean when he says that Dorothy makes him feel like he is floating?

What does Palmer mean when he says, “For much of his life he has been standing at the edge of a black, bottomless hole” ? Will the boys believe Palmer about hating pigeons and wanting to be a wringer?

Will the bird land on Palmer again with the boys around? Mutto has a slingshot today, what would Palmer do if he was about to shoot Nipper?

Ch. 27 Pgs.145-150

Ch. 28 Pgs.151-158

Ch. 29 Pgs.159-163

Ch. 30 Pgs.164-167

Ch. 31 Pgs.168-173

to make him stay after because he cleaned it up. Palmer spit right there on the floor, he had to stay after school and write I will never never never spit on the floor 100 times. When his teacher walked out of the room he would erase what he did. The boys were waiting outside for him when Palmer was done. He had figured out a way to divert the attention from Nipper. Palmer still had a month until summer vacation. He realized that by getting into trouble he could avoid being seen by Nipper, and grew more popular with the boys. The last thing he did was tickle his teacher, he had to stay after school for the whole last week. Palmer had become very popular around the school. He wished that he could be invisible. On the last day of school he didn‟t have detention so he wore his elephant, Halloween mask home. Finally school was over, but soon he would become a wringer. The boys came to get Palmer for “wringer school.” There was a wringmaster at the park and many other boys. He went over the rules of the game. After the shooter has finished his five shots three boys run out. One grabs the box to put the pigeons in, and the others pick up the pigeons. The wringmaster then brings out a stunt pigeon. He showed them how to wring a pigeon, and they all had to practice before going home. Palmer is talking with Dorothy about how he doesn‟t want to be a wringer and she says to tell everybody, or she will do it for him. Dorothy asks if she is invited to his party this year. He has two separate lives, and is unsure what to do but Palmer‟s mother tells him he must invite Dorothy. She also asks if someone is missing a yellow cat (panther) because she has seen one roaming around and today it was in their house. Even though she was invited, Dorothy did not come to his party. When the boys found out that Palmer‟s father was a sharp shooter they were very excited. Beans asked him if he hated pigeons, he replied, “No, never had.” When talking about being wringers, Palmer‟s father also said that Palmer can decide if he wants to or not. Farquar was not around so Palmer did not receive The Treatment. His birthday was not a happy one because he was now old enough to be a wringer. At night when he goes downstairs for leftover cake he sees the word, TONIGHT, fingered into the frosting. Palmer thinks that Henry is the one who wrote on the cake. He has a meek, not mean, streak.

147: morsels

How did Palmer solve his problem? How would you have solved it?

152: leering 156: humanely

How does Pigeon Day help the community? What do they do with all the birds?

160: bolted, fuming, impish

Word Choice: Instead of the author telling us that Palmer is mad he uses the words fuming and describes Palmer. Pg. 160 Foreshadowing: Palmer says he feels as if he has just peeked into the future. What is the author trying to hint? Character: What do you think about Palmer‟s father, Mr. LaRue? How does he feel about the contest?

164: hoodlum 166: devastated

What does the cake mean and who did it?

170: foiled 171: trance

What did the boys find?

Ch. 32 Pgs.174-179

Ch. 33 Pgs.180-183

Ch. 34 Pgs.184-188

Ch. 35 Pgs.189-195

Ch. 36 Pgs.196-198

Maybe Henry is warning him that the guys were going to sneak in his room, they still hadn‟t gotten over their suspicions. After his parents went to bed, Palmer hid downstairs with Nipper waiting and listening for the boys. Finally he heard two yips outside and knew the boys had come. Early in the morning the boys came over, with a nerf ball from Palmer‟s room that has Nipper written on it. They accused him of having a pigeon, but Palmer denies it. The boys and Palmer went to find Farquar to give Palmer the treatment. Right before it happened Palmer said, “”No…no treatment, no wringer, no snots,” and started to run. Palmer hid behind a dumpster that was five and a half blocks from his house. How would he get home? A worker from the store that the dumpster belonged to brought Palmer out a Sprite. He had decided to wait until dark to go home, until he thought about Nipper and what the boys would do if they found him. Palmer ran home and found Panther on his bed. He swatted him away and let Nipper in. Palmer tells Dorothy that he has to get rid of Palmer by the next day. The boys will continue to come after him until he is gone. Dorothy and Palmer tell their parents they are going on a picnic, pack their bikes with food and Nipper in a shoe box and ride out of town. They rode as far as they could and dropped Nipper off in a forest. Quickly they rode back. When they arrived, Nipper was waiting at the window sill. Palmer was pacing the room trying to decide what to do when they noticed that Nipper would pace with him and stop when he stopped. His mother came in and confessed to Palmer that her and his father know he has a pigeon. She held him and he let out all the tears he had been holding in. Last year his father didn‟t even watch the Pigeon Day competition—Palmer‟s mother said he is changing. Palmer tells his mom everything that has been happening over the past year. Dorothy‟s family is going to the seashore on vacation; her parents agree to take the bird and release it there. At night, Palmer could hear the boys trying to get into his room. They would treestump him in the street. It was as if he was never one of the guys. He didn‟t consider Henry one of the boys either. Palmer wanted to show Henry his room and prove that he had gotten rid of the pigeon. Henry was allowed into Palmer‟s room to inspect

Character Analysis: Was Henry really warning Palmer? What does that tell us about his character?

177: airshaft

180: reeling

Compare Henry and Palmer. How does Palmer say they are alike? What did Palmer realize during this chapter that made him stand up for himself? Did the events in the chapter surprise you. Foreshadowing: The chapter ends by saying that Palmer knew the pigeon must go. What do you think he will do?

184: implored 188: dense, wearily

Make up a plan for Palmer and Dorothy to get rid of Nipper.

190: conscious 191: lax

Character Analysis: Palmer‟s father…Over the years in his life, how has he changed? Will Nipper find his way back? Give evidence to support your prediction.

197: brazenly

Henry is a very tall boy, but Palmer said he is actually quite small…What does he mean by this? Have you ever met someone who didn‟t act

for a pigeon. He thanked Henry for the warning on the cake and asked for his real name. It is George. When Henry went to leave, Palmer called after him, asking him to quit but Henry was gone. Ch. 37 The boys stopped going out of their way to Pgs.199-203 harass Palmer. Dorothy and Palmer avoided each other as well. His father taught him the proper way to set up his soldiers. When playing they would all be against the eraser. The eraser would sneak past all the troops only to be machine gunned down in the end. One day, Palmer buried all the soldiers. At a baseball game Palmer‟s father caught a foul ball. On the way home, as Palmer held it, he imagined he felt a heart beat. Ch. 38 Family Fest is coming up. Palmer realized that he Pgs.204gave up Nipper for himself, and it was a high 207 price he had to pay for the peace. He attended Family Fest with his parents and stayed close by them. That Friday night the shooting gallery was full, and the golden pigeon on the mantel was gone. Ch. 39 Pigeon Day…Palmer walked to the park and Pgs.208-217 watched the scene. Palmer describes the shooting more like the pigeons were tripped. They barely started flight before being shot. He noticed Beans, Mutto, and Henry as wringers. It was their turn about every fifteen minutes. He also noticed that they didn‟t rotate job—Henry always held the box. Dorothy joined him, every time there was a shot, she flinched. One time Beans came up to them and wrung the pigeon in their faces. She tells Palmer that they let Nipper off in a railroad yard. He becomes very angry. Dorothy runs away. Ch. 40 Palmer goes to the crates to look for Nipper. He Pgs.218-228 was forced back into the crowd and stays for the entire day. Almost every pigeon looks just like Nipper, he witnesses his death a thousand times. One bird was missed but kept circling the field, it was Nipper. Palmer ran onto the field. Nipper landed on his head and Beans grabbed it and told the shooter to kill it. The pigeon was wounded but not killed. Palmer held his pigeon close till there was no noise and walked off the field. He could feel the cold stares from the crowd. A little girl reached up to touch the bird and asked her father if she could have one too. Other Activities/Ideas:

199: cicada husks, formidable 200: flankers, platoon 201: fusillade

the way they looked? Will Henry get the courage that he needs to quit the gang? Is the way that Palmer sets up and plays with his soldiers significant to anything in his life?

204: churning 206: jostle

Page 206: During the next

211: elegance 212: jeers, ribbing

What was weird about when the three boys would go out to fetch the pigeons? (Henry always held the box) Why didn‟t they rotate?

couple of weeks, Palmer‟s father comforts him, but not through words. What are some examples of how body language can tell more than words?

What is the problem with Nipper being released at a railroad yard?

220: demented 221: deuce 223: gorged, muggery 225: luring

Even though Palmer and Snots are the same person, they are very different. What are some ways that they are different?

Hold a Pigeon Day at your school. EW GROSS—ONLY KIDDING! This is a good book for kids to really decide what is important in their lives. They can think about their actions and the actions of their friends. Are they with the right group of people?