Jake the Fake by Craig Robinson & Adam Mansbach, illustrations by Keith Knight
Format: Hardcover, 144 pages
Published: March 28th, 2017
by Crown Books for Young ReadersGenre: MG Humor
Source: Giveaway hosted by Aeicha at Word Spelunking
Jake is about to start his first day of sixth grade at the prestigious Music and Art Academy, although he feels it's because he faked his way in. You see, his sister Lisa also attends the Academy and she's the one that convinced him to play "Song For My Father" on the piano, which ended up landing him his admission, but what everyone doesn't know is he can only play that one song and he hates playing the piano. Worse than all that is his best friend will be going to Dobbler Middle School, so he won't even know anybody at the new school, which doesn't really seem to matter since everyone is going to find out he cheated his way in any way. So, Jake ends up in Mr. Allen's homeroom where he meets a bunch of kids with quirky talents, plus his teacher assigns what Jake thinks are impossible tasks. Like who can possibly write a book report on a book that doesn't even exist? Jake then enlists the help of his sister and best friend Evan who basically tell him that the way he can fit in is to be "artistic" or do whatever he want's as long as he calls it "art." Jake tries out his new plan, and at first, things are going well, but when his teacher announces the end of school talent show, Jake is really in a bind since he's just been faking his way through most of the school year.
Jake the Fake features over 160 illustrations by Keith Knight and reminded me of The Diary of the Wimpy Kid or maybe even The Captain Underpants series, they were funny and give you the feel of the quirky characters in the story. I also liked the many lists that Jake made, especially his list of ideas for Outwierdoing the Weirdos. From the About the Author's page, Mr. Knight relates how he was concerned about the lack of representation for African American boys in publishing, so together with Chris Robinson's own experiences going to a Magnet School, they decided to write this story. This is only the first book in the series and with its positive messaging of exploring what your hidden talents are and finding something that you're passionate about, I'd say they're off to a wonderful start.