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The Pinballs (Apple Paperbacks)

Press:HarperCollins HarperCollins; Reissue edition (August 10, 2004)
Publication Date:1987-6
Author Name:Byars, Betsy


You can't always decide where life will take you--especially when you're a kid. 
Carlie knows she's got no say in what happens to her.
Stuck in a foster home with two other kids, Harvey and Thomas J, she's just a pinball being bounced from bumper to bumper.
As soon as you get settled, somebody puts another coin in the machine and off you go again.
But against her will and her better judgment, Carlie and the boys become friends.
And all three of them start to see that they can take control of their own Iives.
Carlie knows she's got no say in what happens to her.
Stuck in a foster home with two other kids, Harvey and Thomas J, she's just a pinball being bounced from bumper to bumper.
As soon as you get settled, somebody puts another coin in the machine and off you go again.
But against her will and her beter judgement, Carlie and the boys become friends.
And all three of them start to see that they can take control of their own lives.


"A former winner of the Newbery Award scores again with a story that has poignancy, perception, and humor."  -- -- The Chicago Tribune"A hopeful, loving, and very witty book. 
No wonder 58,000 school children in Georgia voted it their favorite." -- -- Jim Trelease, The Read-Aloud Handbook "The 1971 Newbery Medalist for The Summer of the Swansdoes a superb job of creating vivid characters who change convincingly in reaction to each other." -- C."Three unwanted kids'Pinballs, as wisecracking Carly dubs them'collide in a warm and caring foster home and learn to pin their hopes on each other." -- SLJ.

About the Author

Betsy Byars is a widely read and loved author of many award-winning middle-grade books for children, including Summer Of The Swans (Viking), a 1971 Newbery Medal winner. 
The Pinballs was an ALA Notable Children's Book in 1977 as well as the basis for an ABC Afterschool Special.
Other books she has written for HarperCollins are Good-bye, Chicken Little; The Seven Treasure Hunts, illustrated by Jennifer Barrett; and three I Can Read Books, the popular The Golly Sisters Go West, Hooray For The Golly Sisters!, and The Golly Sisters Ride Again, all illustrated by Sue Truesdell.
Byars lives in Clemson, South Carolina, with her husband.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Chapter OneOne summer two boys and a girl went to a foster home to live together. 
One of the boys was Harvey.
He had two broken legs.
He got them when he was run over by his father's new Grand Am.
The day of his accident was supposed to be one of the happiest of Harvey's life.
He had written an essay on "Why I Am Proud to Be, an American," and he had won third prize.
Two dollars.
His father had promised to drive him to the meeting and watch him get the award.
The winners and their parents were going to have their pictures taken for the newspaper.When the time came, to go, Harvey's father said, "What are you doing in the car?" Harvey had been sitting them waiting, for fifteen minutes.
He was wearing a tie for the first time in his life.
"Get out, Harvey, I'm late as it is." "Get out?" "Yes, get out." Harvey did not move.
He sat staring straight ahead.
He said, "But this is the night I get my award.
You promised you'd take me." "I didn't promise.
I said I would if I could." "No, you promised.
You said if I'd quit bugging you about it, you'd take me.
You promised." He still did not look at his father.
"Get out, Harvey." No." "I'm telling you for the last time, Harvey.
Get out." "Drive me to the meeting and I'll get out." "You'll get out when I say!" Harvey's father wanted to get to a poker game at the Elks Club, and he was already late.
"And I say you get out now." With that, the father leaned over, opened the door and pushed Harvey out of the car.
Harvey landed on his knees in the grass.
He jumped to his feet.
He grabbed for the car door.
His father locked it.
Now Harvey looked at his father.
His father's face was as red as if it had been turned inside out.
Quickly Harvey ran around the front of the car to try and open the other door.
When he was directly in front of the car, his father accidentally threw the car into drive instead of reverse.
In that wrong gear, he stepped on the gas, ran over Harvey and broke both his legs.
The court had taken Harvey away from his father and put him in the foster home "until such time as the father can control his drinking and make a safe home for the boy." The second boy was Thomas J.
He didn't know whom he belonged to.
When he was two years old someone had left him in front of a farmhouse like he was an unwanted puppy.
The farmhouse belonged to two old ladies, the Benson twins, who were then eighty-two years old.
They were the oldest living twins in the state.
Every year on their birthday they got letters of congratulation from the governor.
They were exactly alike except that one's eyes, nose and mouth were a little bigger than the other's.
They looked like matching salt-and-pepper shakers.Thomas J had stayed with the twins for six years.
The twins had meant to take him into town and tell the authorities, but they had kept putting it off.
First it was because he was pleasant company, later because he was good help in the garden.
When the twins broke their hips at age eighty-eight Thomas J was discovered for the first time by the authorities.
Nobody knew who he was or where he had come from.
He was sent to the foster home "until such time as his real identity can be established or permanent adoptive parents located." The girl was Carlie.
She was as hard to crack as a coconut.
She never said anything polite.
When anyone how she was, she answered "What's it to you?" or "Bug off." Her main fun was watching television, and she threw things at people who blocked her view.
Even the dog had been hit with TV Guide when he stepped in front of the set when Sonny and Cher were singing "I Got You, Babe." Carlie had to go to the foster home because she couldn't get along with her stepfather.
She had had two stepfathers, but the new one, Russell, was the worst.
He was mean to everybody in the family, but especially to Carlie.
He resented everything she did.
Once he had hit her so hard when she wouldn't tell him where she'd been that she had gotten a concussion.
Even with a concussion she had struggled up and hit him with a double-boiler.
"Nobody hits me without getting hit back," she had said before she collapsed.
Carlie was to stay at the foster home "until the home situation stabilizes." "Stabilizes!" Carlie had said to the social worker in charge of her case.
"What does that mean?" "It means until your mother and your stepfather work out their problems." "Whoo," Carlie said, "that means I'll stay until I'm ready for the old folks home." The first thing Carlie did when she got to the foster home was pull the plastic footrest up close to the TV.
"Don't talk to me when 'Young and Restless' is on," she warned the foster mother, who was standing behind her.
"I just wanted to welcome you," Mrs.
Mason said.
She put one hand on Carlie's back.
Carlie shook it off.
"Welcome me during the commercial," she said.


Children's Books,Growing Up & Facts of Life,Family Life,Orphans & Foster Homes,Friendship, Social Skills & School Life,Friendship,Literature & Fiction

 PDF Download And Online Read: The Pinballs (Apple Paperbacks)

Comment List (Total:17)

  •     I read this story back when I was a kid in school, and enjoyed it then. Even as an adult I found this book to be just as enjoyable as it was 20 years ago.I highly recommend this book for all ages---young to adult!

  •     Slow start. Great characters. Good ending.

  •     It is a play adapted version. This was not obvious to me when I ordered it. It should be more obvious from the title itself.

  •     AwesomeBecause I like how they explain why Charlie Harvey and Thomas j are like paintballs in the book awesome

  •     Must read.

  •     This is a really good book helping children and teens see how adversity can be turned around into a positive. Life is not easy for many children and this book brings three children together who come from very different troubled home situations and turns their lives around as they begin to form a "family" with some wonderful caring foster parents. A good read.

  •     Wonderful! My students loved it!

  •     Excellent quality and condition.

  •     Powerful book! This book always grabs student's attention and promotes great discussion. Classic book that holds up.

  •     We enjoyed this book. It deals with some difficult things, but in a positive way.

  •     Pinballs is about three children (~pre/early teen) who find themselves placed in the same foster home, each coming from their own less-than-perfect situations. The book is an easy read; regardless of the Lexile level I would recommend it for 4th-5th graders. The only proviso is that many of the references (e.g., to television shows) are very dated and can lose a modern student reader quite quickly--the time frame includes references to the Sonny and Cher Show, etc.. I tried this as a read-aloud to my 5th grade class and was disappointed; it remains a nice small group book if you are facilitating it in the guise of a literature circle, book club, etc.

  •     Characters were likable. Some chapters stalled at times. I use this every year to teach social issues to my sixth graders.

  •     I bought it for my daughter but I read it first to see if it's suitable for a 6-year old (it's too early). I couldn't put it down until I finished it; although I was crying the whole time, I think it's a wonderful book! I think kids 8+ should be able to understand it and enjoy it.

  •     I read this book when I was in 6th grade. The whole class actually read it - I remember it being a huge sensation. I suggested this for my son now that he is in 6th grade. He read it over the summer and also loved it.It is realistic fiction, ideal for kids like my son who don't find much to like in the current trend of fantasy/dystopian young adult. It is probably more of a younger reading level so it was good for slower readers too mature for books at their reading level, too.I would not be put off by the subject matter. It is a reality many kids live through and it is good for kids to understand what happens in other lives. When I grew up we had a large foster home down the street. The reality of what I heard from those kids (who became my friends) was far more brutal than anything described in this book.

  •     The story of Carley, Harvey, and Thomas J still resonates with children. I read the book aloud to my eight-year-old boy and nine-year-old girl. At one point when I tried to stop reading they shouted at me to continue, so wrapped up in the story that they could not bear to stop. I loved The Pinballs when I was a kid and I am happy to be able to share it with my own children.

  •     This is a nice story... a bit depressing, yes, with all that bad fathers, and a bit bad mothers, but it is amazing the way the writer puts such a deep deep deep message into words, into this wonderful and amazing story. I hope there is a sequel to the book. Read on.

  •     Bought the book so I could help my 5th grader with his assignment. It was a cute and touching story.


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