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Apr 2 / Michael

SLJ’s “pitch-perfect” Plunked review, Sunday’s signing, and Readers’ Choice Lists in PA ‘n VA!

Sunday: I have to say it was a good day. I even messed around and got a triple-double. And if you can’t bring yourself to accept old school rap lyrics from this particular author, I hope you’ll at least allow me to extend the sports metaphor.

1) Plunked scored some points in the April issue of School Library Journal. The reviews have been fantastic so far, but I think this is the best one yet:

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

2) I got a major assist from Books of Wonder in NYC, where 67 amazing authors and a cast of indomitable employees staged a signing for the ages—specifically, the ages 8 to 18. The mega-signing was mostly for YA authors (I’m one of those too), but a few of us also dutifully signed our new middle grade novels. Here is a not entirely credible picture of me signing both Plunked and Trapped sign-ultaneously:

3) And speaking of Trapped, my previous book rebounded nicely from a string of marginal slights—my divided attention and the end of winter, mainly—with a round of amazing news. It was named to the Young Readers’ Choice List in Pennsylvania and the Readers’ Choice List in Virginia. Not to overstate the case, but my book is doing extremely well in the swing states and has a shot at the presidency. OK, maybe that’s a bit much, but these lists (like the Tayshas in Texas) mark the intersection of two of my favorite groups eva: librarians and young readers. Both of whom will be awarded new cabinet-level positions in my administration.


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  1. Melissa Walker / Apr 2 2012

    Ooh, a super Sunday! Glad I got a glimpse of its glory.

  2. Michael / Apr 2 2012

    Thanks, Melissa! I hope it wasn’t too blinding 😮

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