Jake is back in a new adventure. This time it’s cooking. All his classmates, and even his teacher, are entranced by the latest kids cooking show. When Jake starts watching, he too catches the bug. He’s keen to go straight to the top, to competition standard. He’s not keen to learn the basics, like safety and cleanliness, even though Nana is happy to teach him.
Everybody at school was talking about JuniorChef. Jake felt left out. He’d only watched half of the first episode before Dad switched channels.
Jake hadn’t thought it would be super interesting anyway. Contestants on the show talked about cooking as if it was the only thing they could ever be interested in.
Didn’t they practise pulling faces in front of the mirror?
Hadn’t they tried flying with helium-filled balloons?
Or imagined lasers that could clean your teeth while you sat on the toilet?
Jake is back in a new adventure. This time it’s cooking. All his classmates, and even his teacher, are entranced by the latest kids cooking show. When Jake starts watching, he too catches the bug. He’s keen to go straight to the top, to competition standard. He’s not keen to learn the basics, like safety and cleanliness, even though Nana is happy to teach him. She does teach him how to make chocolate mousse and then he undertakes teaching his friend. When the school decides to hold a cook-off, Jake is selected as one of the representatives. He begins the search for the winning dish. Black and white illustrations on every opening immerse the reader in the action.
Jake is a young boy with a healthy curiosity and self-belief. He is supported by a family who allow him to follow his passions, no matter how unexpected or transitory. They sometimes suggest caution but beyond that, they allow him his own voyage of discovery. Jake is supported by his friends and endures his less-favourite classmates. Not all his adventures turn out quite as he expects, but then that’s the point of an adventure, isn’t it? Discovery. Jake’s Cooking Craze is full of humour and absurdity, and is sure to delight young readers. The topical nature of this offering will have them chortling, and possibly inspire them in their own creations. Beware! Recommended for newly independent readers transitioning from fully illustrated texts.
Jake’s Cooking Craze, Ken Spillman ill Chris Nixon
Fremantle Press 2013 ISBN: 9781922089106
review by Claire Saxby, Children’s Author
Available from good bookstores or online.
Mrs Paul announces that the class is going to put on a musical play for the end of the year concert. Yay! The play is based on ‘The Little Mermaid’. Not so yay.
Mrs Paul clapped her hands three times.
Everyone knew what that meant. She wanted silence and all pencils down.
Jake wished he could keep colouring his picture of a dragon, but he knew he had to stop. He lifted one edge of the paper so Jonah could see what he had done.
Wow, went Jonah’s lips, not making a sound.
Mrs Paul waited until the class still.
‘Right,’ she said. ‘I have very exciting news for you.’
Mrs Paul announces that the class is going to put on a musical play for the end of year concert. Good news. The play is based on ‘The Little Mermaid’. Not so good news. Not for Jake anyway. He’d much rather the play was about pirates, or dragons. But still, he says he’s happy to be considered for a major role. He just didn’t plan on having a major role. Or having to anything disgusting. Blagh. Soft black and white illustrations are liberally sprinkled through the story.
This is not Jake’s first adventure. He’s appeared previously in ‘Jake’s Gigantic List’, ‘Jake’s Monster Mess’, Jake’s Balloon Blast’ and ‘Jake’s Great Game’. In this outing, Jake explores the challenges of being on stage, including having to interact with other performers and the notion that everyone, EVERYONE will be watching him. Jake gets help from his teacher, his family and even from watching his friends perform, but ultimately he has to perform on his own. His internal anxieties are gently but clearly identified and managed with honesty and humour. Recommended for newly independent readers, particularly those chosen for major roles in school productions!
Jake’s Concert Horror, Ken Spillman, ill Chris Nixon
Fremantle Press 2012
review by Claire Saxby, Children’s Author
Jake wants to join the soccer team with Jonah his mate. Dad takes him to buy soccer boots and Jake chooses silver ones, sure they will be perfect. But the reality of the game and his skills doesn’t come close to matching the playing he can do in his imagination.
‘Dad, why can’t I play soccer?’
Jake imagined running down the pitch, super-fast and much too tricky for other players. He’d fire the ball at goal like a cannon.
Jake wants to join the soccer team with Jonah his mate. Dad takes him to buy soccer boots and Jake chooses silver ones, sure they will be perfect. But the reality of the game and his skills doesn’t come close to matching the playing he can do in his imagination. The gloss goes off the boots and his enthusiasm. Everyone reminds him that it takes practice to be good at anything, and all his family help him with that. Still, he sees his friend Jonah getting better much faster than him. He tries and tries and tries. When it comes to game time, Jonah discovers that there are skills he has developed that make him ideal for a special role. Illustrations are pencil sketches, on every spread.
Jake is back in a fourth book about his life and adventures. In ‘Jake’s Great Game’ he realises that reality doesn’t always match fantasy when it comes to playing soccer. But he does discover the value of practice. Along the way to the first game, he experiences great frustration at his apparent inability to improve. He does discover he’s better than his father though in their first park play! And he also realises that Nana is a much better player than he could ever have imagined. He persists, practises and sees the rewards for that effort in his first game. When he begins, he sees only the glory and the shiny shoes, but by the end, he’s learned about playing a team sport. Recommended for newly independent readers.
Jake’s Great Game, Ken Spillman
Fremantle Press 2011
This book can be purchased online from Fishpond.
Jake wanted to fly.
He really, really wanted to fly. He’d ALWAYS wanted to fly.
Jake – star of Jake’s Gigantic List and Jake’s Monster Mess is back in his third adventure – and this time, he’s determined to fly. Once he’s discounted rockets, airplanes and helicopters as too expensive, Jake explores ideas a little more within his own reach, which is when he remembers that Dad has a helium inflator in the cupboard. With a little help from his mate Jonah, Jake hatches a plan to get up, up and away. But will he ever get off the ground?
Jake’s Balloon Blast is a fun junior fiction title on a topic many kids will relate to – trying to figure out a way to fly. Jake is a likeable character whose silliness will appeal to young readers, and the adults in his life are supportive. The text is accessible but not over simplistic, and the support of the grey scale illustrations (by Chris Nixon) adds a pleasing visual element.
Most of all this a fun book – which kids will love.
Jake’s Balloon Blast, by Ken Spillman & Chris Nixon
Fremantle Press, 2011
This book can be purchased online from Fishpond or in any good bookstore.
Jake’s birthday was just around the corner.
Every morning, the big day had crept a little closer.
One day, Jake was counting the number of sleeps left to go when his father asked him a question. Not just any question – a BIG question.
‘Have you decided what you’d like for your birthday?’
Jake liked birthdays. He liked feeling special. He liked being older. He liked the cake Nana made him. When Dad asks him what he would like for his birthday, he decides to write a list of the things he’d really like. Everyone seems to think he has everything, but Jake knows that’s not true. His list includes his own beach and unmelting snow, a pirate and a cheetah. His birthday grows nearer and the list grows longer. He has no real expectation that he will get anything on his list but he’s determined to make sure he doesn’t get any more boring presents. Jake’s Aunt Lyn just might have the answer. There are no page numbers in Jake’s Gigantic List, and illustrations on each page. The story is divided into short chapters.
Jake’s Gigantic List is a first chapter book for newly independent readers. Jake’s list is an exercise in imagination. If there were no limits, money-wise or other-wise, what would you wish for. Readers will develop their own lists of imaginary presents, no doubt wilder and wilder. Aunt Lyn though offers Jake access to all that his imagination can dream up to list, and then some more. ‘Jake’s Gigantic List’ is written in third person, allowing easy access to the story for new readers. Boys, particularly those who find books daunting, will enjoy this book. So will every reader who likes lists and birthdays! Recommended for newly independent readers transitioning from picture books to chapter books.
Jake’s Gigantic List, Ken Spillman ill Chris Nixon
Fremantle Press 2009
This book can be purchased online at Fishpond. Buying through this link supports Aussiereviews.
review by Claire Saxby, Children’s Author
In their last adventure, the Serventy Kids had to work together to save the magpies that the local council was determined to eradicate. Now, the birds are safe, but the kids aren’t. Local hoons are out looking for fun and their idea of fun spells danger for the younger kids.
First, the year sixes are on a school excursion which is ruined when a speeding car runs them off the road. Then sometime rips up the school oval. The kids decide they’ve had enough. Someone needs to act before their school is ruined – or, worse still, someone is seriously injured.
What it takes to put a stop to the hoons is a team effort, a little detective work and some proactive thinking.
Magwheel Madness is an exciting sequel to Magpie Mischief and shows kids working together to change things that effect them. Looking at themes of responsibility, team work and honesty, the book’s main appeal is its humour and pace.
A good fun read.
Magwheel Madness, by Jon Doust and Ken Spillman
Fremantle Arts Centre Press, 2005