A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Jake the Fake Keeps It Real is a laugh-out-loud take on middle school insecurities by the comedic team of actor Craig Robinson (The Office, Hot Tub Time Machine) and Adam Mansbach (Go the F--k to Sleep), with zany artwork by cartoonist Keith Knight (The K Chronicles and (th)ink). Robinson and Mansbach are best known for decidedly mature (but very funny) fare, but they keep it clean here. There's a bit of potty humor with some over-the-top jokes (such as making sculpture out of garbage, or a field trip for students to find their "spirit consumer item"), but the story is full of positivity and treats the art school "weirdos" affectionately. The cast of characters is fairly diverse, including several African-American students.
What's the story?
In JAKE THE FAKE KEEPS IT REAL, sixth-grader Jake Liston has a secret: He knows he doesn't belong with the gifted and talented students at the Music & Art Academy. He's a decent writer, but he really can't play piano well and he cheated on the math exam. Everyone around him oozes creativity, including his successful older sister. Jake stays afloat by trying to "outweirdo the weirdos," but he's worried he won't be able to fake his way through the big talent show. Unless he can come up with a good plan, Jake is certain he's going to be found out -- and kicked out.
Is it any good?
Comedian Craig Robinson and writer Adam Mansbach riff on the middle-school-anxiety genre with the start of this fun series. Following a sixth-grader who worries he doesn't have the chops to cut it in art school, Jake the Fake Keeps It Real is buoyed by plentiful illustrations by Keith Knight, whose giddy artwork and jokes are packed onto nearly every page.
Robinson and Mansbach steer clear of the snarky tone so common in humor for the tween set. Like Big Nate, Jake is a jokester -- but he clearly likes his classmates and wants to feel at home among them. And he finally does when he starts improvising on "Operation Outweirdo" -- he feels inspired, challenged, excited, and free. Most of the jokes are focused on the art school crowd, but the humor is never unkind. This one clearly is meant for all the kids who feel like weirdos, with great affection.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the idea of "fake it 'til you make it" in Jake the Fake Keeps It Real. How does Jake's mood and attitude change once he starts trying to be weird?
Why do you think there are so many middle school books about fitting in? Does this one stand out from the others you've read?
How do you feel when your creative juices are flowing? When you're in the zone, what are your mood and energy like?
- Authors: Craig Robinson, Adam Mansbach
- Illustrator: Keith Knight
- Genre: Humor
- Topics: Brothers and Sisters, Friendship, Middle School, Misfits and Underdogs
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Crown Books for Young Readers
- Publication date: March 28, 2017
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 8 - 12
- Number of pages: 144
- Available on: Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
- Last updated: June 20, 2019
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