Plunked

Plunked

3.8 10
by Michael Northrop
     
 

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When a young slugger gets hit by a pitch, he needs more than practice to get back his game.

Sixth grader Jack Mogens has it all figured out: He's got his batting routine down, and his outfielding earns him a starting spot alongside his best friend Andy on their Little League team, the Tall Pines Braves. He even manages to have a not-totally-embarrassing

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Overview


When a young slugger gets hit by a pitch, he needs more than practice to get back his game.

Sixth grader Jack Mogens has it all figured out: He's got his batting routine down, and his outfielding earns him a starting spot alongside his best friend Andy on their Little League team, the Tall Pines Braves. He even manages to have a not-totally-embarrassing conversation with Katie, the team's killer shortstop. But in the first game of the season, a powerful stray pitch brings everything Jack's worked so hard for crashing down around his ears. How can he explain to his parents and friends why he WON'T be playing? Readers will root for Jack as he finds the courage to step back up to the plate.

Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Jean Boreen
Sixth grader Jack Mogens lives for baseball and fully expects to be the starting left fielder for his Little League team. But when a wild pitch hits him in the head and puts him flat on the ground, Jack knows fear on the field for the first time in his young life. Skittish at his next batting practice, Jack begins to question his own ability as a player; then, at the next practice, Jack gets hit again by his nemesis and decides that he will do whatever it takes to miss the next game his team plays. The tension and conflict Jack feels about this decision, though, provides Jack the opportunity to make a critical decision about who he wants to be in the future, both as a person and as a baseball player. Thanks to his background as a sports writer, the author does a fabulous job detailing the little league practices and the feelings that Jack and his fellow players—including one female player, the shortstop for their team—deal with as they prepare for practice and play each game. I also liked the real-life feel of the dialogue and the feelings Jack has as he struggles with whether he can continue on as a baseball player in light of his injuries; in a time when we are looking very carefully at the injuries athletes sustain during their sports season, this book is a credible representation of how the athletes feel in the midst of dealing with the pain and, often, shock of what they are experiencing. Reviewer: Jean Boreen, Ph.D.; Ages 8 to 12.
Publishers Weekly
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.)
From the Publisher

Praise for Plunked :

“[A] kid-smart novel . . . Northrop, a former reporter and editor at Sports Illustrated KIds, knows baseball and kids. He weaves an entertaining story about how the games we play can be mental as well as physical.” -- USA Today

“A well-crafted story and fun read. The sharp dialogue, the characters and, yes, maybe even a little bit of [Jack's] anxiety will resonate with young readers.” --Tom Verducci, senior writer, Sports Illustrated

Plunked gives a marvelous degree of attention to the second-to-second details of youth baseball. Any kid who has ever loved a sport to the point of obsession will feel the fastball screaming into Jack's batting helmet.” --Gordon Korman, author of Swindle

“Well-developed characters and a strong narrative voice make this novel about much more than baseball. . . . Pitch-perfect.” --School Library Journal

“Well-written . . . An uncommonly thoughtful baseball novel.” --Publishers Weekly

“Readers will appreciate this down-to-earth sports story that stays within its game, offering . . . a realistic story rooted in the writer's knowledge of the game and what it means to its young players.” --Kirkus Reviews

“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.” --Booklist
 

“A well-crafted story and fun read. The sharp dialogue, the characters and, yes, maybe even a little bit of [Jack’s] anxiety will resonate with young readers.” —Tom Verducci, senior writer, Sports Illustrated

“Plunked gives a marvelous degree of attention to the second-to-second details of youth baseball. Any kid who has ever loved a sport to the point of obsession will feel the fastball screaming into Jack’s batting helmet.” —Gordon Korman, author of Swindle

“Well-developed characters and a strong narrative voice make this novel about much more than baseball. . . . Pitch-perfect.” —School Library Journal

“Well-written . . . An uncommonly thoughtful baseball novel.” —Publishers Weekly

“Readers will appreciate this down-to-earth sports story that stays within its game, offering . . . a realistic story rooted in the writer’s knowledge of the game and what it means to its young players.” —Kirkus Reviews

“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.” —Booklist

VOYA - Sharon Blumberg
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. Reviewer: Sharon Blumberg
School Library Journal
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
Kirkus Reviews
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)

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780545297158
Publisher:
Scholastic, Inc.
Publication date:
02/25/2014
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
256
Sales rank:
350,354
Product dimensions:
7.40(w) x 5.20(h) x 0.70(d)
Age Range:
8 - 12 Years

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