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Young readers book reviews for ages 8 to 12 years old

*Jake* by Audrey Couloumbis- young readers fantasy book review
Also by Audreay Couloumbis:


The Misadventures of Maude March
by Audrey Couloumbis
Grades 3-5 176 pages Random House September 2010 Hardcover    

A precious slice of life, Jake is the contemporary story of a 10-year-old boy who lives a rather ordinary life with his widowed mother. When his mother breaks her leg in a grocery store parking lot just before Christmas, requiring surgery and an extended hospital stay, Jake’s paternal grandfather comes to stay with him.

At first their relationship is strained: their connection since Jake’s father died has consisted solely of obligatory phone calls only a few times per year. A retired military man, Jake’s grandfather has a rather brusque personality; he smokes cigarettes and owns an annoying little dog named Max.

Granddad stays with Jake at his apartment and develops a friendly relationship with their neighbor. Together, Jake and his grandfather build a relationship while sharing meals, swimming at the YMCA and visiting Jake’s mother in the hospital.

Audrey Couloumbis captures Jake’s young voice - his thoughts and perspective are truly childlike as he finds himself in a realistic, painful yet not tragic new situation. Jake would make a great classroom read aloud around the holidays. His perceptions of his situation are so very childlike. For example, when the doctors tell him that they’ve given his mother some drugs to make her sleep, he immediately panics and connects her situation to pets being put to sleep. Young readers will immediately make connections with his character and want to share their own similar experiences.

Overall, Jake is a simple, positive story of family dynamics, healing and love. Although reluctant readers may find the story a bit slow, with its straightforward plot it will be easy for struggling students to summarize and complete a solid book report assignment.

This book will also serve as a good mentor text for students writing personal narratives. Jake is a cozy winter story, just touching the holiday season and focusing in on the most important part of life: our families.
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  Kristine Wildner/2010 for curled up with a good kid's book  

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