MOP, MOONDANCE, AND THE NAGASAKI KNIGHTS

The appealing young baseball players introduced in 1988's Me, Mop, and the Moondance Kid (about an interracial New Jersey group, including recently adopted narrator T.J., his brother Moondance, and a girl from the same orphanage who's adopted by their coach) are featured here in a tournament with teams from Mexico, Japan, and France plus their usual local rivals. The winners will go to Japan (how this has been arranged is unclear). Meanwhile, the kids discover that their team's valuable new player, Greg, and his mom are homeless, and T.J. makes the difficult decision to tell his father they need help. Not as wonderfully comic or as tightly structured as its predecessor, and depending somewhat on its established characters, but with a good many strengths: T.J.'s relationship with his dad, who's quick to anger and impatient with T.J.'s ineptitude as a ballplayer, continues to deepen, while he and Moondance face Mom's pregnancy with misgiving. The tension between those who drive too hard to win and those who value fair play ("If you like winning more than you like playing ball, then it can take the fun out of playing," observes T.J.) is realistically drawn, as is Greg's pain when social services take him in care. And the intended audience will enjoy the play-by- play games and their genuinely childlike errors and successes—as well as the ongoing joke of T.J.'s overrating his own prowess. (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1992

ISBN: 0-385-30687-3

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1992

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With comically realistic black-and-white illustrations by Selznick (The Robot King, 1995, etc.), this is a captivating...

FRINDLE

Nicholas is a bright boy who likes to make trouble at school, creatively. 

When he decides to torment his fifth-grade English teacher, Mrs. Granger (who is just as smart as he is), by getting everyone in the class to replace the word "pen'' with "frindle,'' he unleashes a series of events that rapidly spins out of control. If there's any justice in the world, Clements (Temple Cat, 1995, etc.) may have something of a classic on his hands. By turns amusing and adroit, this first novel is also utterly satisfying. The chess-like sparring between the gifted Nicholas and his crafty teacher is enthralling, while Mrs. Granger is that rarest of the breed: a teacher the children fear and complain about for the school year, and love and respect forever after. 

With comically realistic black-and-white illustrations by Selznick (The Robot King, 1995, etc.), this is a captivating tale—one to press upon children, and one they'll be passing among themselves. (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-689-80669-8

Page Count: 105

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1996

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DONAVAN'S WORD JAR

Donavan's friends collect buttons and marbles, but he collects words. ``NUTRITION,'' ``BALLYHOO,'' ``ABRACADABRA''—these and other words are safely stored on slips of paper in a jar. As it fills, Donavan sees a storage problem developing and, after soliciting advice from his teacher and family, solves it himself: Visiting his grandma at a senior citizens' apartment house, he settles a tenants' argument by pulling the word ``COMPROMISE'' from his jar and, feeling ``as if the sun had come out inside him,'' discovers the satisfaction of giving his words away. Appealingly detailed b&w illustrations depict Donavan and his grandma as African-Americans. This Baltimore librarian's first book is sure to whet readers' appetites for words, and may even start them on their own savory collections. (Fiction. 8-11)

Pub Date: June 30, 1994

ISBN: 0-06-020190-8

Page Count: 72

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1994

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