Title: Minn & Jake
Author: Janet S. Wong
# Of Pages: 160
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Publication Date: August 12, 2003
Level: Ages 7+
Rating: 1 Heart
Do you ever feel like you've somehow lost your true best friend? Minn feels this way. So does Jake. But Minn and Jake have no intention of being friends. Minn's a string bean. Jake's a shrimp. Minn's a girl. Jake's a boy. And in fifth grade, who wants a best friend of the opposite sex? But Minn and Jake are forced together by circumstances, which only strengthen their resistance . . . until Minn takes Jake lizard hunting. There are lots of good ways to choose a friend.
This is a young-readers novel told in free verse. Unfortunately, I didn’t find the free verse format to fit with this story at all. There was nothing poetic about it, the lines didn’t flow together, or paint a beautiful picture with words like most verse novels do.
Not only did I not like the format of the story, but I didn’t much care for the story itself. Going into it I thought it was going to be this sweet story of new friendship, but it turned out to be an awkward story about two kids who can’t stand each other at first and then without you really realizing what happened, bam, they’re best friends.
And then there’s the whole lizard thing, Minn is obsessed with catching lizards and she tries to teach Jake even though he hates them. I felt like the whole book was used to talk about lizards; catching lizards, studying lizards, dreaming about lizards, dancing and chanting to the lizard gods, etc…
The best part about this story were the cute sketch-like illustrations that accompanied it, and to go along with the lizard theme there was a lizard shaped cloud, shadow, or something in each picture.
I’m thinking this story was meant more for boys than girls, who would enjoy all the lizard talk and not care so much that the friendship seemed disjointed.