Thursday, April 27, 2017

Jake the Fake Keeps it Real by Craig Robinson and Adam Mansbach

Jake the Fake Keeps it Real by Craig Robinson and Adam Mansbach, illustrated by Keith Knight
Crown Books for Young Readers

Rating: 4 stars (my kids would give it a 5)

Here's a new middle grade novel, one that was written to tickle the funny bone of every child who reads it. It has two authors: one (Craig Robinson) is an actor/comedian; the other (Adam Mansbach) is the author of for-adults-only book Go the F**k to Sleep. It's a good one to know about: it's a slim book chock full of silly illustrations by cartoonish Keith Knight, so it's an easy read for a above-grade-level readers but also engages readers who are struggling a bit. There's a ton of incentive to read because readers are going to want to get to the next joke! This book will get passed around the car from one child to another.

But this book is also good to know about because it's a great audiobook--Sullivan Jones performs it superbly, with silly voices, big songs, amped-up reactions to things that he'd easily win a standing O from the children in the back of your car. You might want this audiobook for a long car ride this summer...

So what's it about?

Jake declares himself the dumbest school at his touchy-feely "smart school," a magnet school in a fictional city. He realizes that he wants to fit in, and in this school you've got to be weird to fit in, so he brainstorms schemes that are so funny I laughed out loud at them--and I know my children would have laughed even harder. 

Things come to a head during the school talent show, when Jake feels he's got no talent whatsoever. But he pulls out a great act when he remembers that one time someone thought he was funny. So he runs with it, and tries his first little comedy act, and it goes really well. He's found himself, he gets laughs and high-fives from all his classmates, and he feels like he finally fits in.

Parents should know that, like most comedians, Jake is irreverent and pokes fun at anything and everything. He might offend an adult at some point or another. My two eye-rolling points were: First, when he described a home-schooled child as socially awkward in what I felt was a demeaning way; second, when he said "Americans get type 1 diabetes just by looking at large drinks from 7-11" or something like that. 

But I admit that these statements were a little funny because they are a little true. And kids love to laugh. Kids NEED to laugh! know, we adults do, too. 

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