Monday, November 26, 2012

Children's Book Review: Jake and Lily (Ages 8 and Up)

Jake and Lily
Jerry Spinelli

This is the newest novel by Newbery award winning, Jerry Spinelli (Maniac Magee). It’s a delightful read chocked with good humor and well-developed characters. This is told from the dual point of view of Jake and Lily, they alternate chapters with journal entries from each twin. The twins are inseparable from the moment they are born; they even share a secret twin power that they dubbed “goombla." This power allows one twin to be constantly aware of where the other is and what they are doing. It certainly made hide and seek a drag, but when one twin was lost or in trouble, the power was invaluable. The twins reveled in their secret connection until one day Jake decides he wants to be himself rather than half of a twin. He makes friends of his own and Lily despairs as their link weakens and seemingly disappears. The reader follows Jake as he strikes out on his own and he unwittingly becomes a bully and learns what it means to be a true friend. Lily struggles with the loss of her power and her brother’s absence. She works to get a life and friends of her own. Readers follow the eleven year old twins as they learn to become independent people.

The simple vocabulary and short chapters make this a good read for younger elementary age kids from third to sixth grade. I think that the depth of character and humor shines through enough to make this an enjoyable title for older readers, too. Whether you are a twin or know one, the relationship that they share is intriguing, humorous, and touching. This is a great book for learning about self-discovery, independence, and bullying. It tackles many issues without sounding too preachy or saccharine. I highly recommend it.

Mollie Harrison
Springville Road Library

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