Parents' Choice Foundation: Reviewing Children's Media Since 1978



Fall 2010 Fiction
Ages: 8 - 12 yrs.
Author: Audrey Couloumbis
ISBN: 9780375856303
Hardcover Price: $15.99

Jake's story kicks off with a spooky fall. Just before Christmas, Jake's mother slips on ice and breaks her leg while carrying groceries to her car. It's not just any break, but one that knocks her unconscious, requires surgery, and lands her in the hospital for days. Suddenly Jake's thoughts of school Christmas parties and a new bike turn to basic survival. Jake's father has passed away, and though Jake and his mother have a motley arrangement of family and friends, none of them are around. Only their neighbor, Mrs. Buttermark, and Jake's estranged Grandfather are near enough to help.

Grandpa is a gruff military man and has a "nightmare dog." Prior to his mother's fall, Jake and his Grandpa have only spoken a couple of times a year on the phone. The situation is awkward for both of them. This is a quiet little book - no wizards or spells - but in a very comfortable 159 pages, Couloumbis throws her characters into unexpected situations and then develops them in a wonderful way. It's a nice portrait of unconventional families, and how that looks from a child's eye. Jake and his mother have lived alone for most of his life but the family that emerges from the accident is as conventional as anyone else's.

The message in Jake is sweet. It's the unplanned side trips we learn the most from and Couloumbis does a beautiful job of showing that.

Teresa DiFalco   ©2010 Parents' Choice
Teresa DiFalco is an award-winning ghostwriter, writer, and mother in Vancouver, Washington. She's been a contributing editor for Parents' Choice for over ten years. She's a strong speller, a menace at badminton, and makes a decent soufflé.

Look for this product at:
Random House Books for Young Readers

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