Review: One Small Hop

 One Small Hop

by Madelyn Rosenberg

Scholastic Press

Category: Middle Grade
Reviewer: Stacy Nockowitz

One Small Hop is a surprising departure for author Madelyn Rosenberg from her other middle grade novels, This is Just a Test and Not Your All-American Girl (both co-written with Wendy Wan-Long Shang). Those books are both set in the 1980s and tell stories of young teens dealing with typical issues involving school, friendship, and family. In contrast, One Small Hop is a tale of a not-so-distant future devastated by climate change. In the small shore town of Town Harbor, Maine, Jonathan “Ahab” Goldstein and his friends come upon something rare and wondrous- a real, live bullfrog. They should turn the frog over to the Environmental Police Force. But the EPF is completely inept, and Ahab worries that the frog will die in the agency’s care. No, this might be the last bullfrog in the country, and Ahab and his friends decide they must find it a mate on the black market. Not only could they propagate the frog population, but this might be Ahab’s invitation into Darwin’s Disciples, a secret society of scientists he dreams of joining.
But saving a species isn’t easy. With Ahab’s older sister Juliette as their chaperone, Ahab and his pals set out on an odyssey of a bike trip to find the one person in Canada who claims to have just what they’re looking for: a female bullfrog.
While One Small Hop does deal with serious topics like climate change and extinction, Rosenberg has infused the narrative with plenty of pre-teen hijinks and humor. Like its main character, One Small Hop is full of hope for a better future for our planet. The snappy dialogue and McGyver-like antics make what could be a somber, dystopian book along the lines of The Maze Runner into a feel-good story with an optimistic, positive vibe.
Madelyn Rosenberg is a wonderful storyteller, and she certainly did her research regarding the issues raised in One Small Hop. The book has solid literary merit, and is perfect for its intended middle grade audience. However, while Ahab and his family are Jewish, Judaism is not addressed in One Small Hop. Ahab makes a passing reference here and there to his religion, but One Small Hop would not be considered a Jewish book for the purposes of the Sydney Taylor Award. [Editor's note: While not named as such, the actions of Ahab and his friends offer a model of the Jewish concept of tikkun olam, or repairing the world.]
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Reviewer Stacy Nockowitz is a middle school librarian and former language arts teacher. Stacy received her Bachelor’s Degree from Brandeis University and holds Master's Degrees from Columbia University Teachers College and Kent State University. She is also an MFA candidate in Writing for Children and Young Adults at the Vermont College of Fine Arts. Stacy is a PJ Library Writer’s Incentive Award recipient, and her debut middle grade novel, THE PRINCE OF STEEL PIER, will be published by Kar-Ben Books in August of 2022.