Just Jake

Jake Marcionette, illus. by Victor Rivas Villa. Grosset and Dunlap, $11.99 (160p) ISBN 978-0-448-46692-7
Sixth-grader Jake Mathews is a big believer in his own “awesomeness,” something that gets put to the test when his family moves from Florida to Maryland, sending Jake to the bottom of the social totem pole. Jake’s supremely self-confident narration switches between humorous bluster, observations of sixth-grade life, and sibling give-and-take (Jake’s older sister is a force to be reckoned with). Cut-out photos with captions and doodles, faux crinkled/stained papers, and cartoon illustrations create the sense that readers are peering into Jake’s battered and heavily decorated journal. In this first book from teenage author Marcionette (who began writing it at age 12), Jake applies his “Rules for Awesomeness” to his new home and keeps track of everyone in school with “Kid Cards” (“Think baseball cards, but the team is your school and the players are your teammates”). The narration leans heavily on pop culture references and slang (honey badger, broseph, “slow your roll”) that are unlikely to age well, but Jake’s youthful exuberance shines through and keeps the story speeding ahead. Ages 8–12. Author’s agent: Dan Lazar, Writers House. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 11/25/2013
Release date: 02/04/2014
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