Reviews for Plunked

Booklist Reviews 2012 March #1
The only thing more interesting than baseball for Jack Mogens is--well, nothing. Like so many middle-graders, the entire world revolves around the diamond and his tenuous place on it. He is in a fierce battle for a coveted starting gig in left field ("No offense to anyone, but they always put the worst fielders in right"), so every single at-bat counts. Always confident, he gets the start, but in the first game, he is beaned in the head: a mild concussion and good-sized lump but nothing to worry about. Except that now he is terrified of inside pitches, which have plagued many hitters to an early retirement, and can't find a way to shake it off. What Northrop does particularly well here is to dig into the deep, complex psychology of an at-bat, where there's so much more going on than a simple meeting or missing of a ball and bat. The predictable outcome robs the story of some dramatic heat, but that won't deter readers who relish the everything's-at-stake nature that makes sports such a riveting, all-consuming pursuit. Copyright 2012 Booklist Reviews.

Horn Book Guide Reviews 2012 Fall
Jack Mogens, obsessed with baseball, offers a play-by-play account of his life as a sixth grader in small-town Tall Pines. A big tournament is in his future, but he is unprepared for an incident at home plate that threatens his baseball skills and challenges his courage. Crisp dialogue, realistic characters, and humorous moments enhance the story.

Kirkus Reviews 2012 February #1
It's April, baseball is in the air and sixth-grader Jack Mogens is nervous about the making the Little League team. Jack does make the team and gets a starting spot in left field, but in the very first game, the opposing pitcher is wild and Jack gets plunked by an unintentional beanball. He's down for the count and taken to the hospital. The doctor says it's perhaps a minor concussion, but he'll be fine. Except he's not fine. Now Jack's afraid of inside pitches, and he either bails out on anything inside or stands at the plate like a statue, frozen by fear of being hit again. He has nightmares and decides he can't play baseball anymore. But a baseball team is a community, and eventually his teammates rally around Jack. When he tells his best friend what's been going on, his friend offers sensitive and profound advice: "GET OVER IT." Readers will appreciate this down-to-earth sports story that stays within its game, offering no theatrics and special effects, just a realistic story rooted in the writer's knowledge of the game and what it means to its young players. Jack Mogens is a likable young player, and readers will empathize with him and cheer him on. (Fiction. 8-12) Copyright Kirkus 2012 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

Publishers Weekly Reviews 2012 February #1

Sixth-grader Jack Mogens thinks his big worry for the new baseball season is whether he'll win the starting position in left field. Instead, his preoccupation becomes the inside pitch, after he gets clouted in the head with one on opening day. Fear sets in when, at the next batting practice, Jack is hit again, by a nasty teammate (nicknamed "Malfoy"). This is how a lot of youth sports careers end, and many athletes will recognize themselves in Jack's predicament. Though Jack is invested in baseball as a player, a fan, and a collector of cards and memorabilia, he is terrified of embarrassing himself by bailing out on a pitch again. YA author Northrop's (Trapped) first middle-grade novel underscores how the professionalization of youth sports has benched common sense--even Jack's well-meaning parents don't suggest he take some time off after the doctor diagnoses a mild concussion. Though there is well-written baseball action, this is really a story about a boy giving his lifelong dream serious reconsideration. An uncommonly thoughtful baseball novel. Ages 8-12. Agent: Sara Crowe, Harvey Klinger. (Mar.)

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School Library Journal Reviews 2012 April

Gr 4-7--Well-developed characters and a strong narrative voice make this novel about much more than baseball. Jack Mogens is ready for his sixth season of Little League. He has a good arm, he's a decent hitter, and he thinks he has a shot at being the starting left fielder for the Tall Pines Braves. But when he gets hit during the first game and ends up being treated for a mild concussion, his lack of confidence about inside pitches turns into real trepidation. Nightmares about being frozen in place as the ball comes toward his head don't help matters, and he finds himself trying to hide his fear of batting from the rest of the team. Things only get worse after a vindictive teammate drills him in the ribs during practice, and suddenly Jack is making excuses to his coach, his parents, and his friends about why he can't play. He seriously considers quitting the team, even though it has been an integral part of his life and his friendships over the years. Throughout the story, as he relates events during the school day and outside of the practices and games, his self-effacing humor is pitch-perfect for a sixth grader. But it is during his soul-searching about whether he can move beyond his fears that the adolescent poignancy and lack of confidence really come through. The dialogue is fresh, the pace moves nicely, and readers will enjoy seeing how Jack finally manages to get his head and his heart back into the game.--Kim Dare, Fairfax County Public Schools, VA

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VOYA Reviews 2012 June
Jack Mogens is a sixth-grade student who attends Tall Pines Elementary School. Jack plays on the Tall Pines Braves Little League team. This is his sixth year on the team. Jack has all the normal kinds of things most boys his age have. He has his best friend, Andy; supportive parents; kids he likes or dislikes for various reasons; and a coach he tries to please. Katie is another force with which Jack has to reckon. Katie is the shortstop on the team. Jack tries to make himself look good in front of Katie as he breathes and eats baseball. He is the underdog and winner, all in one character. It depends on what happens to Jack during the course of practices and the game. It is easy to identify with Jack, as he experiences physical injuries and emotional embarrassments. But what is most interesting is how Jack deals with them. Does he stay down and give up the game, or does he hang in there and persevere This is a great book of realistic fiction for boys and girls who love the game of baseball. The language is real for young teens and middle school readers. Furthermore, the daily school scenarios sound true-to-life for students in this age range. The reader is right in there with Jack.--Sharon Blumberg 4Q 2P M J Copyright 2011 Voya Reviews.