Mikaelsen, Ben. Petey. Hyperion, 1998. ISBN 0-7868-0426-2. $15.95. 280 pp. B+ 6+ FI Reviewed by Nancy C. Evensen Petey is born with cerebral palsy. When his parents leave him in the care of the state, he is misdiagnosed as an “idiot.” Consequently, Petey grows up in a mental institution. Despite the poor conditions, Petey develops lasting relationships with others and shows a zest for life. Years pass, and Petey becomes wary of those around him because of broken promises and losses. When Petey is an old man, Trevor, an eighth-grade boy who has just moved into town, comes into his life. He is friendless, as is Petey. His family is busy and unable to respond to the loneliness Trevor is facing. Together, the two establish a fast friendship. Petey is a marvelous example of an individual rising above physical obstacles and circumstances. The book allows the reader to better understand cerebral palsy and the difficulties of those suffering from the disease. The moral of the book is a good one. This book is an ideal choice for social studies teachers doing service learning projects with their students. The characters are endearing. Trevor's character, however, is somewhat unbelievable. Trevor's entire out-of-school life becomes caring for Petey-taking him for walks, taking him fishing and hiking. He is successful in tracking down and reuniting old friends of Petey's, obtaining a new wheelchair, and convincing doctors to perform surgery on Petey. This is some thirteen-year-old boy! Nevertheless, the tenderness of the book is impressive. It is definitely appropriate for some audiences and situations.
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