by Judith Hayn
Spinelli, Jerry. (2012). Jake and Lily. New York, NY: Little, Brown, and Co.
Jerry Spinelli, the master of middle school-aged mayhem, returns with plot and characters designed for sheer reading fun. Jake and Lily are fraternal twins who have always been able to read each other’s thoughts and sense when the other needs rescue. The summer before their sixth grade year, this sense, nicknamed “goombla,” by the close siblings seems to disappear. Jake spends his days with a gang of guys called the Death Rays led by budding bully Bumpy; they ride bikes while seeking goobers (misfits) to annoy and ridicule.
Lily is lost and alone without her best buddy. Fortunately, the twins have patient parents and an understanding grandfather who decides to live near them after traveling the globe for years. Poppy provides the common sense Lily needs as he gently encourages her to forge a life without Jake in it. In the meantime, Jake struggles with his own conscience when terrorizing of a new kid in town turns to vandalism.
Now that they have struggled through their separate journeys, documented as Poppy suggests in journals, the twins narrate chapters in alternating voices. The reader is thus somewhat assured that the end will be satisfying, but the trip is exciting and suspenseful—another Spinelli hit for all libraries for young adolescents with its themes of family and friendship.
Dr. Judith A. Hayn is an Associate Professor at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock.
This article is part of a series from the International Reading Association's Special Interest Group Network on Adolescent Literature (SIGNAL).