We know about that summer slump that happens if kids don't read
over vacation. We also know there are plenty of kids who want to
leave all things school associated way behind from June to September.
Just Jake is the answer to many a nag weary parent's prayers: a book a
son or daughter will actually want to read. It was written by a
twelve-year-old, not an adult at least a decade out of middle school.
You've gotta respect that. Here's a pre teen writing,
illustrating, and editing an over 150 page manuscript. (How many of
us who have not gone to grad school have completed a literary project
that big?) And it is a good book. The combination of text and
pictures is convincing and, in many cases, downright funny. For
example, when a boy trained in the martial arts has been chllenged to
a fight he asks the aggressor a series of questions. Jake reflects,
"I didn't understand why Wild Boy didn't start pounding on Jason. It
was either a Jedi mind trick, or Wild Boy's training included a course
in lawsuit prevention."
Just Jake begins with the narrator en route to a new home in
Maryland with his parents and evil older sister, Alexis, "the Queen of
Mean." He is not in favor of the move. Being a kid, he has no say in
the matter. "...As my dad says, 'When you pay the electric bill, you
get to decide where things get plugged in.'"
In Jake's new town sixth graders are still in elementary
school. He accidentally arrives in the second grade due to a teacher
room mix up. And things go down hill from there. After three months
he hates his new state and school. He's gone from popular to
invisibly in one simple move.
Jake, however, is more resiliant that he realizes and not ready
to give up. Kids who have had to deal with new kid in school status,
bullies, clueless patents, or a menacing sibling will find him a
character to root for.
On a personal note, I am involved in a cognitive rewiring project.
For a few weeks now I have been teaching myself to write leftie.
Research is showing that projects that involve brain rewiring can help
preserve brain health and prevent Alzheimers. What I notice is it
takes concentration to do something that was almost automatic. It
gives me a great deal of empathy for people with strokes or Parkinsons
and children just learning to write.
A great big shout out goes out to children and adults who have to
adjust to moves they're not happy about. Believe me. I've been
there, done that.
Julia Emily Hathaway
Sent from my iPod