Jack Mogens is a likable young player, and readers will empathize with him and cheer him on.

PLUNKED

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)

Pub Date: March 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-545-29714-1

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Jan. 18, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2012

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A charming read that demystifies the work of making a movie and celebrates the gifts of authentic friendship.

MARCUS MAKES A MOVIE

Marcus, obsessed with making comics, finds new ambitions for his superhero character Toothpick when he joins an after-school filmaking club.

Always-working comedian Hart enters the children’s-literature world with this middle-grade novel uplifting one of the profound life lessons that helped catapult him to global superstardom. It’s certainly not a biography, but one can see the shades of reality, with a young Black boy who’s short and funny making his way into film. Marcus’ gift for storytelling is nurtured by his love of making comics (represented visually throughout by Cooper). Readers come to understand how these creative acts help process stress and grief via striking conversations between Marcus and his loving father that also show the critical importance of developing emotional language. After an inspiring first day of film class, Marcus declares that he will make the most awesome movie ever—but there’s a gigantic difference between making comics and making a movie: You can’t make a movie alone. He’s going to have to work with peers who challenge him. Through Marcus’ experiences, young readers will learn about the many different concepts, tools, and techniques that are part of the behind-the-camera filmmaking endeavor. Unfortunately, lumping Toni Morrison in with William Shakespeare as just another “dead author” is a distasteful moment in an otherwise enjoyable read. The book adheres to a Black default.

A charming read that demystifies the work of making a movie and celebrates the gifts of authentic friendship. (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: June 1, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-17914-7

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: May 5, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2021

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With Ivan’s movie out this year from Disney, expect great interest—it will be richly rewarded.

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THE ONE AND ONLY BOB

Tiny, sassy Bob the dog, friend of The One and Only Ivan (2012), returns to tell his tale.

Wisecracking Bob, who is a little bit Chihuahua among other things, now lives with his girl, Julia, and her parents. Happily, her father works at Wildworld Zoological Park and Sanctuary, the zoo where Bob’s two best friends, Ivan the gorilla and Ruby the elephant, live, so Bob gets to visit and catch up with them regularly. Due to an early betrayal, Bob doesn’t trust humans (most humans are good only for their thumbs); he fears he’s going soft living with Julia, and he’s certain he is a Bad Dog—as in “not a good representative of my species.” On a visit to the zoo with a storm threatening, Bob accidentally falls into the gorilla enclosure just as a tornado strikes. So that’s what it’s like to fly. In the storm’s aftermath, Bob proves to everyone (and finally himself) that there is a big heart in that tiny chest…and a brave one too. With this companion, Applegate picks up where her Newbery Medal winner left off, and fans will be overjoyed to ride along in the head of lovable, self-deprecating Bob on his storm-tossed adventure. His wry doggy observations and attitude are pitch perfect (augmented by the canine glossary and Castelao’s picture dictionary of dog postures found in the frontmatter). Gorilla Ivan described Julia as having straight, black hair in the previous title, and Castelao's illustrations in that volume showed her as pale-skinned. (Finished art not available for review.)

With Ivan’s movie out this year from Disney, expect great interest—it will be richly rewarded. (afterword) (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: May 5, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-299131-7

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: March 25, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2020

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