Literature / Wringer

Not all birthdays are welcome.

Wringer is a Children's Literature book by Jerry Spinelli.

Set in a town where pigeons are annually shot once a year for charity, Wringer deals with the peer pressure Palmer LaRue faces. He doesn't like the annual festival, and to make matters worse, he's almost 10, which is the year boys became wringers—any pigeons left alive after being shot have their necks wrung.

The local gang doesn't help matters. A group of tough kids, Beans, Henry, and Mutto try to accept Palmer into their fold to become wringers, as well as pick on Dorothy, a girl Palmer secretly likes. But there's something even worse that Palmer's keeping from all of them—his parents, the gang, Dorothy, and the town.

He has a pet pigeon named Nipper, and he must do everything in his power to keep it safe from the town that murders pigeons.

But one day, that secret may be revealed...

This books contains examples of:

  • The Chew Toy: The gang makes Dorothy one of these. Later, they do this to Palmer.
  • Death by Newbery Medal: Barely averted. While Nipper is wounded, he survives.
  • Kids Are Cruel: Beans is nine when the book starts and he's a borderline sociopath. Mutto's just as nasty, and even Palmer can be cruel if coerced into it.
  • Mercy Kill: What a wringer's job is - to wring the necks of any wounded pigeons in order to end their suffering.
  • Morality Pet: Nipper.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: Dorothy releases Nipper near the railroad tracks, which unbeknownst to her is the very place where they go to capture the pigeons.
  • Peer Pressure Makes You Evil: Palmer skirts this trope as a consequence of wanting to be accepted by his peers.
  • A Real Man Is a Killer: This seems to be the town's point of view on wringers and Pigeon Day in general.
  • Scary Teeth: One of the boys in Beans' gang is nauseatingly described as having "Technicolor teeth".
  • Shoo the Dog: Not wanting Nipper to be found and used in the upcoming festival, Palmer has Dorothy smuggle the pigeon away to be released. Sadly, this backfires.
  • Virtue Is Weakness: Those boys other than Palmer certainly think so. Any though whatsoever for lives of the pigeons is mocked and attacked.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Dorothy calls Palmer out for being and laughing with the gang as they pick on her.