cover image Jake the Fake Keeps It Real

Jake the Fake Keeps It Real

Craig Robinson and Adam Mansbach, illus. by Keith Knight. Crown, $13.99 (144p) ISBN 978-0-553-52351-5

Actor/comedian Robinson, Go the F**k to Sleep author Mansbach, and The Knight Life cartoonist Knight team up for a slightly edgy spoof of touchy-feely, experiential education in this heavily illustrated story. Jake, an African-American sixth grader, has a severe case of imposter syndrome after cheating and faking his way into the elite Music and Art Academy. Jake’s gifted older sister, Lisa, thrives at the academy, where students are encouraged to get creative through assignments like chewing a piece of gum for six hours, then writing a play about it. Under the very loose tutelage of free-spirited Mr. Allen, Jake pushes the definition of artistic in order to “throw everybody off the scent of my fakeness,” finding freedom (and a cover) in intentionally bizarre behavior such as trash sculpting or creating bands that don’t play music. Knight’s zippy b&w spot illustrations play up the story’s gross-out humor—as in a scene of laser-beam-wielding dolphins decapitating radioactive kangaroos during Jake’s book report about an imaginary book—and a supporting cast of quirky art-school types rounds out this offbeat novel, first in a planned series. Ages 8–12. (Mar.)