In her book Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life, Anne Lamott says, “For some of us, books are as important as almost anything else on earth. What a miracle it is that out of these small, flat, rigid squares of paper unfolds world after world after world, worlds that sing to you, comfort and quiet or excite you. Books help us understand who we are and how we are to behave. They show us what community and friendship mean; they show us how to live and die.”

My hope is that this is what books become to you—as important as almost anything else on earth. This blog is about helping you find the miracle in these small, flat, rigid squares of paper while you are in middle school and beyond. Once you read alongside me, you are forever a member of my tribe of readers. No matter how you old you are, when you need to be reminded of the power of a good story, you will find me here, waiting to place one in your hands.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

JAKE AND LILY by Jerry Spinelli

copyright date: May 2012
primarily marketed for: intermediate readers (8 and up)

This is another book for younger readers.  So, although the time you spend actually reading Jake and Lily by Jerry Spinelli won’t be long, the time this story spends traveling around in your heart will be immeasurable.

Spinelli is a master at getting straight to the heart of what keeps people from accepting one another: differences.  Through the story of young twins Jake and Lily, he tells a story of tolerance, acceptance, and ultimately friendship. 

Jake and Lily have a very special relationship.  They are able to connect with one another through dreams and across distances.  In fact, as they write their stories for us in alternating chapters, they don’t even need to read to know what they other has written. 

Conflict settles into their lives when growing up threatens to come between them.  As Jake begins to spend more time with a group of boys led by the roughest boy in the neighborhood, his connection with Lily seems to fade. 

Lily is forced to look elsewhere to fill the void left by losing her brother’s friendship.  While Jake is succumbing to the guidance of a bully who leads the boys in a hunt for Goobers, Lily finds guidance in her wise, earthy grandfather, Poppy. 

In true Spinelli-style, both children figure out what it means to be themselves.  It is a story for younger readers, but if contains Spinelli’s poetic voice of wisdom in lines crafted like these:

“He hates me.  Ernest Lindop of Meeker Street hates me.  I’ve never been hated before.  It’s like sunburn on my heart.”

“What do you do while you’re waiting for your life to happen?”

Reading Jake and Lily felt like eating dessert first.  It was a pure treat for my soul.

Reading Threads:


  1. Terrific-I have heard that Spinelli has a new one-Thanks Christy!

  2. Thanks for the great review of this new one by a favorite author. Have you read his short story collection called (I think) The Library Card?

  3. Hi, Christy,

    Just thought I'd say hello again and mention another gifted author for older middle-grade kids, Kevin Henkes. He's so well known for his picture books, but I love his novels, too.

    Tasha is busy with school-related preparations and I'm sure you are, too. It's a hectic time of year.

    If you ever would like to have an author visit through Skype, I'm available. I've done it about ten times, and it's a great way to connect with student readers -- if the technology cooperates!

    Take care,