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Plunked by Michael Northrop
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Plunked (edition 2012)

by Michael Northrop

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From April 2012 SLJ
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.— ( )
  KimJD | Apr 8, 2013 |
Pure baseball on and off the field. ( )
  geraldinefm | May 6, 2012 |
I would only reccomend this book to a friend who is a baseball fan. The book would be hard to understand if they didn't (know) baseball or the lingo that goes on with baseball sayings. The story has a great storyline and the author did a great job of keeping the book exciting, such as when it's time for a baseball game; he goes through the emotions of excitment.(such as when) The palms are seating and goose bumps on my arms. This was a great book. Q5P5 AHS/Max M
  edspicer | Apr 16, 2012 |
Richie's Picks: PLUNKED by Michael Northrop, Scholastic Press, March 2012, 256p., ISBN: 978-0-545-29714-1

"But that was just a dream
Try, cry, why, try
That was just a dream
Just a dream, just a dream"
-- REM, "Losing My Religion"

"There's something I would like to say, like, officially: Ooooooooooowwwww!
"I'm lying there at home plate, looking up at all the people standing over me in a circle. Their catcher has his mask pushed up on top of his head. The ump's mask is totally off, and he has this weird look on his face, like he's about to start laughing or crying. Then there's Coach and someone I don't know. And they're all still talking. I know it's about me, but I'm not catching most of it.
"I'm looking up at the sky, and it feels like the whole world is vibrating. I have that feeling you get after you drop something, like you need to bend down and pick it up. Except I'm already down, and the thing I want to pick up might be my head."

As a young person, I was never much for involvement in organized sports. Sure, I loved goofing around shooting basketballs, and participating in games on our street that involved a harmless pink ball. I even survived (barely) a season of freshman wrestling in high school so I'd have it on my transcript. But hard baseballs were...well...really hard, and were something I always avoided. One of those things would really hurt...

Sixth grader Jack Mogens has a bedroom filled with baseball memorabilia -- cards and bobble heads and posters and balls. He has parents who have always been enthusiastic in their encouragement and support of his baseball "career" since back when he played T-Ball as a little kid. Now he's in the Little League Majors and is fighting for the starting left field spot on the team. His team, with all of his long-time friends.

But, having beaten out a teammate for the starting spot, he is accidentally hit in the head by a poorly thrown pitch on Opening Day, during his first at-bat of the season. PLUNKED by Michael Northrop is the story of Jack's dealing with the resulting doubts and bad dreams as he finds himself suddenly afraid of pitches. This is a tale of a boy going through a serious reconsideration of his desire for what has always been his passion.

"'Two thousand six hundred and thirty-two,' I say.
"'Yeah,' says Dad. 'With three thousand one hundred and eighty-four hits and four hundred and thirty-one homers.'
"Most fans don't know those stats, except maybe Orioles fans.
"'Unbelievable,' I say.
"'Believe it,' says Dad. 'I saw a few of them.
"But that's not what I mean. I mean, all those games...
"How many times was he hurt or injured? How many times did he get hit by a pitch, not just off the thigh or butt, but somewhere it hurt? And he never missed a beat.
"Right then, I know two things. One: If Cal Ripken got hit in the head by a pitch, he would pick himself up and head down to first base. There wouldn't be a cloud of people hovering over him and tears in his eyes and a pinch-runner who got thrown out at home. And he definitely wouldn't bail out on inside pitches three days later. Just the thought of it is ridiculous. I mean, please: Inside pitches would bail out on him!
"And so that's the other thing I know. Two: I'm not like Cal Ripken. I'm not a baseball player like him. Now I'm not smiling at all."

There is a lot to like in this sports story for middle grade readers that, in equal parts, takes place on and off of the field. There is Jack's innocent obsession with his team's cracker jack shortstop, pony-tailed Katie Bowe. His coach and his parents are really positive, good-hearted adults. And he has some great true-to-life friends. I like that no one is calling him a pussy. Everyone knows what I knew at that age: a hardball is hard and it makes perfect sense to be nervous -- especially if you have been plunked in the head by one.

A really thoughtful sports tale.

Richie Partington, MLIS
Richie's Picks http://richiespicks.com
BudNotBuddy@aol.com
Moderator http://groups.yahoo.com/group/middle_school_lit/
http://slisweb.sjsu.edu/people/faculty/partingtonr/partingtonr.php ( )
  richiespicks | Jan 18, 2012 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0545297141, Hardcover)

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.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 14:04:48 -0400)

Sixth-grader Jack Mogens loses his nerve after getting hit by a pitch, and has to dig deep within himself to avoid giving up the sport he loves.

(summary from another edition)

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