Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Spring Reads: Jacky Ha-Ha by James Patterson

Jimmy Patterson Books; 384; $13.99; Amazon
With many schools taking a hiatus for summer vacation, kids now have plenty of time to crack open a book. One of the most popular middle-grade and YA author is James Patterson.

Yes, I said that right - James Patterson, the New York Times Bestselling author of the crime thriller series Alex Cross, Women's Murder Club, and many other titles. Mr. Patterson has written (and co-written) several different series for younger readers, such as the Maximum Ride books, the Middle School novels, the I Funny novels, the Treasure Hunters novels, the House of Robots Novels, and the Daniel X novels.

Now available from Jimmy Patterson Books (part of Little Brown and Company), is Jacky Ha-Ha by James Patterson and Chris Grabenstein (co-writers of the Middle School and I Funny books).

Jack Ha-Ha is written in point-of-view of Jacky, an actress who is about to receive an Oscar, but before she heads off to the Academy Awards, she writes down a story for her daughters, Tina & Grace, to read. The story is set in 1990 and centers around Jacky Hart when she just a kid. Her mother was in Marine Corps and was sent to Iraq, leaving her father, a lifeguard, to take care of Jacky and her six sisters.

Why is she called Jacky Ha-Ha?

Well, Jacky had a bad stutter when she started kindergarten, pronouncing her name as Jacky Ha-Ha-Ha-Ha-Ha-Hart. Her classmates thought it was funny and she was dubbed Jacky Ha-Ha, which sorta fits her as she is a class clown who is always finding ways to pull a prank on her teachers.

Sadly, Jacky's pranks get her into a little bit of trouble at school, resulting in several detentions. Plus, she has to participate in the school's upcoming play, "You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown."

Final Thoughts: By the cover alone, I thought maybe Jacky Ha-Ha would be similar to Mr. Patterson's Middle School series, but this title is the complete opposite. Yes, this story is centered on a young character and there are several jokes tossed about, but it's more of a coming-of-age story about a middle-child adjusting to life without her mother (Don't worry the mother isn't dead!), while at the same time she is trying to find her true self.

Overall, Jacky Ha-Ha is a cleverly written book that should easily appeal to younger readers (and a few older ones). The main character is likeable. The chapters are short, which keeps you turning to next page to find out what happens next. And the illustrations by Kerascoet are beautifully done.

*Disclaimer - I received a complimentary copy in exchange for my unbiased review. All opinions are my own.

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