When Joey Pigza meets his dad, Carter, for the first time in years, he meets a grownup version of his old hyperactive self -- the way he was before his stint in special ed, the way he was before he got his new meds.
"He was wired, No doubt about it . . . , Now I knew what Mom meant when she said he was like me, only bigger."
During their summer visit together, Carter is eager to make up to his son for past wrongs. He wants to teach Joey how to be a winner. He wants to show Joey how to take control of his own life. And Joey is willing to do whatever his dad says, even though -- in this high-energy sequel to the acclaimed Joey Pigza Swallowed the Key -- he fears it will do him more harm than good.
"All I could imagine was the worst part of me getting or a train a long ways off. That old Joey was coming to get me and I couldn't do anything about it . . . There was nothing to do but wait, and worry."
We were on our way to Dad's house and Mom was driving with both hands clamped tightly around the wheel as if she had me by the neck. I had been snapping my seat belt on and off and driving her nuts by asking a hundred what if's about Dad. She'd been hearing them for two weeks already and wasn't answering. But that didn't stop me. What if he's not nice? What if he hates me? What if he's as crazy as you always said he was? What if he drinks and gets nasty? What if I don't like him? What if Grandma tries to put me in the refrigerator again? What if they make Pablo sleep outside? What if they don't eat pizza? What if I want to come home quick, can I hire a helicopter?
"Yes," she said to my last question, not really listening. She was taking the long roller-coaster way to Pittsburgh, which was up and down about a million mountain backroads, because she was afraid of driving too fast on the turnpike. As she said before we loaded...
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Take one disarmingly engaging protagonist and put her in the company of a tenderly rendered canine, and you've got yourself a recipe for the best kind of down-home literary treat. Kate DiCamillo's voice in Because of Winn-Dixie should carry from the steamy, sultry pockets of Florida clear across the miles to enchant young readers everywhere...
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