restricted access Just Jake by Jake Marcionette (review)
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Reviewed by
Marcionette, Jake. Just Jake;illus. by Victor Rivas Villa. Grosset + Dunlap, 2014. [160p]. ISBN 978-0-448-46692-7 $11.99 Reviewed from galleys Ad Gr. 3-6.

Unhappy about having to move during the middle of his sixth-grade year, Jake [End Page 366] hopes his recently developed “rules of AWESOMENESS” will help him fit in at his new school. If nothing else, his pastime of creating Kid Cards—trading cards of his classmates—will keep him busy as he climbs the social ladder. After a few rough starts, Jake finds a group of friends, but things come to a head when a minor miscommunication with a loner kid results in the class bully needlessly coming to Jake’s defense in order to gain the attention of Jake’s older sister. The bully backs out of the fight when he discovers that Jake hasn’t been on his side all along, only to try to get revenge—in an attempt that backfires and makes Jake even more popular. Written in short chapters interspersed with digitally assembled, caricature-like pencil sketches (including plenty of examples of Kid Cards) and cutouts of photographs, this novel is a short and sweet introduction to a series following in the thematic footsteps of Ignatow’s The Popularity Papers (BCCB 5/10). Unfortunately, the plot rambles quite a bit, and it’s occasionally difficult to follow where the story’s going. Jake’s a good kid, though, and his rules of AWESOMENESS, which at first seem self-aggrandizing, actually turn out to be solid advice, if a bit preachy. The attractive style and the lure of a kid author (Marcionette wrote the manuscript when he was twelve) will likely surmount any shortcomings in kids’ eyes, making this a likely pleaser.

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