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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Life is about figuring out what you want to do. It's OK to try something and fail or lose interest -- that's the nature of experimentation. Letting go of limits and taking risks helps free creativity. Other people can help us realize talents we may not otherwise recognize in ourselves. Weird is a matter of perspective. Faking confidence can actually help you on the path to genuine confidence.
Positive Role Models
Jake regards his classmates as weird but doesn't look down on them -- he appreciates their idiosyncrasies even when he doesn't understand them. His sister and her boyfriend are supportive and encouraging. Jake wants to succeed and admires his multitalented sister in particular. Jake's parents are minimally present, but they are warm and positive. His teacher is an over-the-top caricature but appears to love his students and his job.
Violence & Scariness
One goofy depiction of sharks with laser eyes decapitating attacking kangaroos.
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Some gross humor with references to "poop," "pee," "snot," and vomit.
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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.
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.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.
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