WHY WE CARE


Plugged In exists to shine a light on the world of popular entertainment while giving you and your family the essential tools you need to understand, navigate and impact the culture in which we live. Through reviews, articles and discussions, we want to spark intellectual thought, spiritual growth and a desire to follow the command of Colossians 2:8: "See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ."

YOUR STORIES


Family uses Plugged In as a ‘significant compass’

"I am at a loss for words to adequately express how much it means to my husband and me to know that there is an organization like Focus that is rooting for us. Just today I was reading Psalm 37 and thinking about how your ministry provides ways to 'dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.' We have two teenagers and an 8-year-old in our household...Plugged In has become a significant compass for our family. All three of our kids are dedicated to their walk with Christ but they still encounter challenges. Thanks for all of your research and persistence in helping us navigate through stormy waters."

Plugged In helps college student stand-up for his belief

"Thanks for the great job you do in posting movie and television reviews online. I’m a college freshman and I recently had a confrontational disagreement with my English professor regarding an R-rated film. It is her favorite movie and she wanted to show it in class. I went to your Web site to research the film’s content. Although I had not seen the movie myself, I was able to make an educated argument against it based on the concerns you outlined. The prof said that she was impressed by my stand and decided to poll the whole class and give us a choice. We overwhelmingly voted to watch a G-rated movie instead! I’ve learned that I can trust your site and I will be using it a lot in the future.”

Plugged In brings ‘Sanity and Order’ to Non-believer

“Even though I don’t consider myself a Christian, I find your Plugged In Web site useful and thought-provoking. No one reviews movies like you do. Instead of being judgmental, you put entertainment ‘on trial.’ After presenting the evidence, you allow the jury of your readers to decide for themselves what they should do. In my opinion, you bring sanity and order to the wild world of modern day entertainment. Keep up the good work!”

Mom thinks Plugged In is the ‘BEST Christian media review site’

"Our family doesn't go to the movies until we go online and check out your assessment of a given film. I think this is the BEST Christian media review website that I've found, and I recommend it to my family and friends. Keep up the good work!"

SUPPORT THE WORK OF PLUGGED IN

Our hope is that whether you're a parent, youth leader or teen, the information and tools at Plugged In will help you and your family make appropriate media decisions. We are privileged to do the work we do, and are continually thankful for the generosity and support from you, our loyal readers, listeners and friends.

We hope this review was both interesting and useful. Please share it with family and friends who would benefit from it as well.

Book Review

This book has been reviewed by Focus on the Family’s marriage and parenting magazine. It is the second book in the "Skinnybones" series.

Positive Elements

Spiritual Content

Sexual Content

Violent Content

Crude or Profane Language

Drug and Alcohol Content

Other Negative Elements

Conclusion

Pro-social Content

Objectionable Content

Summary Advisory

Plot Summary

Twelve-year-old Alex Frankovitch thinks highly of himself, and his words usually get him in trouble. For once, however, his caustic humor seems to be paying off. He’s won the Kitty Fritters essay contest by writing a letter that openly mocks the cat food. The Kitty Fritters executives are flying him to New York to film a commercial. Alex desperately hopes to impress his friends and vex his enemies, such as stuck-up Annabelle Posey. He anticipates the fame he will achieve and begins to annoy his parents with his arrogance.

Once in New York with Dad, Alex realizes he’s overestimated his own importance. The shabbily-dressed director of the commercial makes him work with a large, unprofessional cat. Alex must portray a much younger child who is running away and taking his beloved pet. He doesn’t have any lines but has to lift a gigantic bag of cat food into a wagon. The director and others on the set grow irritated with Alex’s demands and suggestions.

Alex leaves New York dissatisfied, doubting whether his commercial will impress anyone. When he gets home, his parents recognize his concern. They assure him the story of a boy looking out for his cat will touch TV viewing audiences. A few weeks later, Alex and his friend Brian are watching TV when the commercial comes on. To Alex’s dismay, Brian rolls on the floor with laughter. Alex is further humiliated at school when his classmates laugh about how wimpy he looked trying to lift the cat food bag.

Soon afterward, Alex sees a new opportunity to seize the spotlight. A magician called The Amazing Mel performs at a school assembly and asks for a volunteer. Alex rushes to the front and begins to show off, which gets him laughs from his peers. He’s convinced the applause at the end of the show is solely for him. Some of his classmates begin inviting him to hang out with them after his humorous performance. He brags to his parents about his coolness and talks about starting his own fan club.

One boy asks if Alex is going to try out for the Christmas play, and Alex decides he would be the perfect star of Scrooge. He attends tryouts, adding his own clever commentary to the script. He’s disappointed not to be cast as Scrooge, but as Tiny Tim. A boy named Albert gets Scrooge, and Alex’s nemesis, Annabelle, gets the role of Mrs. Cratchit. Since his parents won’t let him quit the play, Alex uses every opportunity to goof off and ad-lib when the director isn’t watching. Albert and Annabelle are annoyed and concerned about what will happen in the actual performance.

The night of the show, Albert gets a terrible case of stage fright. Alex purposely makes it worse by playing on Albert’s fears. When Albert locks himself in the bathroom and refuses to go on, the director calls on Alex to get Albert’s costume and play Scrooge. Alex faces a crisis of conscience. He knows he will be a big star if he takes the lead role, but he feels bad that his teasing drove Albert to this point. He goes into the bathroom and convinces Albert to go on. The director privately praises Alex for getting Albert to perform. He calls Alex a “quiet hero.”

Albert does a good job and achieves some fame of his own at school afterward. Alex is put off by Albert’s egotism. He starts to put Albert in his place by mentioning Albert’s anxiety on performance night. Alex stops himself before announcing Albert’s stage fright in front of the other kids.

Alex ends the book by saying he’s taking a break from the limelight at the moment. He’s just enjoying being himself, a quiet hero.

Christian Beliefs

Alex prays that everything will turn out OK and everyone will like his commercial. Brian says God probably doesn’t appreciate people praying for dumb little favors all the time, but Alex says he thinks that’s what God is there for. Alex mocks Annabelle for telling the class that God once came to her house for Sunday dinner. Alex imagines himself getting so famous that God would drop by for a meatball sandwich with him. Alex seems to view God as if He were a cosmic vending machine, rather than showing reverence for Him.

Other Belief Systems

Alex says he thinks Mother Nature made a mistake when she made Annabelle Posey.

Authority Roles

Alex’s parents are actively involved in his life. They alternate between encouraging him when he’s sad and talking him back to reality when his ego gets the upper hand. The director of the school play praises Alex for being a quiet hero when Alex convinces Albert to go onstage. Alex isn’t used to being encouraged for selfless, unseen acts, and it gives him new perspective.

Profanity/Violence

The Lord’s name is used in vain several times. The word heck also appears a few times.

Kissing/Sex/Homosexuality

None

Discussion Topics

Get free discussion questions for this book and others, at FocusOnTheFamily.com/discuss-books.

Additional Comments/Notes

You can request a review of a title you can't find at reviewrequests@family.org.

Book reviews cover the content, themes and worldviews of fiction books, not their literary merit, and equip parents to decide whether a book is appropriate for their children. The inclusion of a book's review does not constitute an endorsement by Focus on the Family.

Episode Reviews

We hope this review was both interesting and useful. Please share it with family and friends who would benefit from it as well.

Get weekly e-news, Culture Clips & more!