Jacky Ha-Ha

Book review by
Terreece Clarke, Common Sense Media
Jacky Ha-Ha Book Poster Image
Warm, funny tale of middle school joker finding her groove.

Parents say

No reviews yetAdd your rating

Kids say

age 10+
Based on 4 reviews

Did this review miss something on diversity?

Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive, diverse representations in books, TV shows, and movies. Want to help us help them? Suggest a diversity update

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

The book subtly gives kids coping tools for dealing with their feelings and ideas about positive outlets for their creative energy.

Positive Messages

Great messages about family support, being true to who you are, and coping through trials and tragedy. Even though family members fight, they still love one another. Sometimes talking through what's bothering you is better than trying to laugh it off. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

Jacky's sisters, best friend, and several teachers help her use her comedic powers for good. Kids provide a supportive base and different perspectives for Jacky. Various adults offer Jacky support and guidance as she sorts out her feelings, without solving her problems for her.


It's the 1990s, and there's discussion of the impending first Gulf War and the possibility of soldiers being killed in the fighting. There's also concern about the use of chemical weapons being used on American troops. It's mentioned that a former officer left the police force after being shot.


Typical boy-girl dating references for older characters. A concern that a parent may be having an affair with a coworker. Two married people kiss for an extended period of time, and a pair of teens kiss quickly at the end of a date.


Mild name-calling, including "bubblebutt" and "ringworm."

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Jacky Ha-Ha, by James Patterson and Chris Grabenstein, is a mild coming-of-age novel with the dynamic 12-year-old class clown Jacky, the fourth of six sisters, as its driving force. Set in 1990 New Jersey, the book explores family and friendship problems including a kid's suspicion that a father may be having an affair, a mother who's a Marine serving in the Middle East during the lead-up to the first Gulf War, and the death of a family member.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say

There aren't any reviews yet. Be the first to review this title.

Teen, 13 years old Written bymicsreadinterest April 24, 2021


This book is a really good one. I had not read a book that didn't have corny jokes in a while, and this really just took me into a new universe. 8/10 recom... Continue reading
Kid, 11 years old October 22, 2018


This book is really funny and I was laughing and smiling the whole time. This a good book for younger readers too! When I got this book, I thought it would be t... Continue reading

What's the story?

Jacky is a master of turning things that embarrass and upset her into jokes that keep the whole crowd laughing. Being the class clown is fun -- except when it earns you 10 detentions on the first day of school. With all that's going on -- her mom is stationed overseas in anticipation of war, her is dad spending long nights with a cute lifeguard, and she has never-ending issues at school -- Jacky is starting to realize she can't turn the jokes off long enough to deal with real life. Can this jokester learn how to cope, or will her nickname "Jacky Ha-Ha" and her stutter follow her forever?

Is it any good?

A strong female protagonist, realistic characters, and a balanced approach to middle school life make this book a winner. Kids will easily fall in love with brave Jacky, not only because she's funny but also because she's super smart and insightful. It's that insight about everyone (but herself) that makes Jacky such a dynamic character. Authors James Patterson and Chris Grabenstein do a fantastic job of creating middle school characters who display depth and humanity. There is no mean-girls clique to triumph over -- just very real problems that kids face every day. It's also nice that there are positive adult role models to help Jacky find her way and work out her problems.

The black-and-white cartoon illustrations by Kerascoet (two French illustrators using a joint pen name) bring Jacky's adventures to life with great energy and are a welcome addition to the story.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about class clowns. How do media portrayals of class clowns and their antics compare with how class clowns affect people in real life? Have you ever made a joke at the expense of a friend's feelings? How did it make you feel?

  • How do the families in this book compare with families on your favorite TV shows? Which family portrayal is more realistic? How do most TV shows portray sibling and parent relationships?

  • How does Jacky channel her high energy into positive outlets? In what positive ways do you choose to share your passions?

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love stories about friendship and middle school

Themes & Topics

Browse titles with similar subject matter.

Top advice and articles

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

See how we rate

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

Our ratings are based on child development best practices. We display the minimum age for which content is developmentally appropriate. The star rating reflects overall quality.

Learn how we rate