Petey by Ben Mikaelsen

cover of Petey by Ben Mikaelsen

Petey. By Ben Mikaelsen.  1998. Hyperion Publishing.  ISBN 978-078681336-0.

I’m sure you have had the unfortunate experience of someone being mean to you.  It feels horrible, doesn’t it?

This book is very special to me.  Petey by Ben Mikaelsen, is the very touching story of Petey Corbin.  This book reminds us that all people deserve respect and that one person really can make a difference.

It’s 1920 in Bozeman, Montana and the Corbin family has just been blessed with a baby boy named Petey. However, he looks completely different from other ordinary babies. Because of this, the doctors misdiagnose him as an idiot.  But Petey has a severe case of cerebral palsy, a condition that’s caused by brain damage before, during, or shortly after birth, and results in poor control and weakness of the muscles.  Two years later, the family sends him to the Insane Asylum in Warm Springs, Montana, because they can’t care for him anymore.

When he gets to the Insane Asylum, he gets put in the Infant’s Ward.  That’s when his life looks like it’s going to take a turn for the worst.  The room is crowded, he isn’t cared for properly by the nurses, and he’s lonely because he has no friends.  But then he starts to become really good friends with Esteban, a worker at the hospital.  But that friendship doesn’t last long because Esteban loses his job.  When Petey is eleven years old, he gets moved to the Men’s Ward.  While living in the Men’s Ward, Petey makes friends with the mice and a nine-year-old boy named Calvin, who’s mildly retarded and has severe club feet (deformity of the foot where the foot turns inward).  They start to talk and do everything together.  Petey also makes friends with Joe, Cassie, and Owen, three of the workers at the hospital.  Unfortunately, they all left the hospital too.  After living at the hospital for a long time, Calvin and Petey get transferred to different nursing homes.

Meanwhile, Trevor Ladd, a 13-year-old boy, has just moved to Bozeman, Montana, because his parents want to get better jobs.  He doesn’t think it’s fair at all.  It doesn’t get any better when he’s walking home from school one day, and sees three neighborhood bullies throwing snowballs at Petey who now lives at the Bozeman nursing home.  After Trevor chases them off, he starts to become really good friends with Petey.  The bullies now harass not only Petey, but now Trevor, too.  He’s determined to make Petey’s life better by getting him a new wheelchair because the one he uses is old and is falling apart, and by finding Petey’s old friend Calvin.  Will he be able to find Calvin?  Will he get him a new wheelchair?  Do the bullies continue to taunt Trevor and Petey?

Read Petey by Ben Mikaelsen to find the answers.

Genre:  Historical Fiction

Themes:  elderly, children, cerebral palsy, caring, bullying, friendship, abandonment, caring,

Reading level:  4.9

Interest level:  6th grade up

Link to Harvest Park Library catalog:  this book is not at the Harvest Park Library.  If you would like to buy it for the library, please follow this link:  Harvest Park Library Amazon Associates link.

Author website:  Ben Mikaelsen

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