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Friday, March 11, 2011

Jake, written by Audrey Couloumbis. Random House, 2010. $18.99 ages 8 and up

" I got lost in the museum
once but I didn't even know
it. I had too many things to
look at to wonder where
Mom was. I was lost and
I was found before I knew
anybody was upset."

Jake is ten. His Dad died when Jake was very young and since then, it's been Jake and his mom. They take care of themselves and each other, with occasional help from their very good friends. Jake has one grandparent, his father's father with whom he speaks on the phone twice each year. What he hasn't known, he doesn't miss.
After karate class one wintry Saturday morning, Jake and his mom make a stop for the week's groceries. In the treacherously icy parking lot, Jake's mom falls and breaks her leg. She is taken to hospital where it is determined that she must have surgery. Someone needs to take care of Jake. Neither his mom's sister or her best friend are available, so the unbending, protocol-driven social worker calls Jake's grandfather. He arrives quickly and much of the tension of not knowing each other is palpably evident. It takes time, support and understanding for Jake and Grandad to begin to form a familial bond.

Audrey Couloumbis has created a strong family story, with credible characters who have a lot of heart and wisdom. The voices are strong, and the humor evident. This is an intermediate novel that would make an entertaining and most enjoyable read for home, or for the classroom.

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