I was compensated for this review of Jacky Ha-Ha, but all opinions remain my own. Links are affiliate links that earn me some pennies if you buy after clicking through but cost you nothing.
My family and I are readers. We sneak off into the world of books whenever we can, and I love finding books that I can enjoy with my kids. This has become easier again now that they’re a little older, and James Patterson has become one of their – and my – favorite novelists in the humor genre. We gobbled up the entire I Funny series, and when we heard there was a new book coming out – Jacky Ha-Ha by James Patterson – we couldn’t wait to read it.
Little Miss was particularly excited, as so many of the books she enjoys reading tend to feature a male protagonist. Having a female as the center of Jacky Ha-Ha was a huge bonus, especially someone as strong and sassy as Jacky. I just now went to go look up a page in the book to share one of my favorite scenes, but once again, the book is gone. I’m not complaining that it’s disappeared, as it means that one of my kids is reading it (again); this is one of those “good” problems to have.
Granted, not every book that makes its way into my house continually disappears. They are somewhat choosy in what they read and enjoy, but when they find something they like… woe betide anyone who gets in their way. Jacky Ha-Ha falls in that category. It’s funny without being rude and disgusting. There are books that I’ve told them I don’t want them reading because of the message they spread, but James Patterson’s books aren’t part of that group. His humor isn’t mean to other people and don’t set a poor example for my kids.
Does Jacky do some… not so smart things in Jacky Ha-Ha? Yup! Does she look for attention in not always positive ways? Absolutely. That said, she faces the consequences for her actions, and as a reader, you can see how the natural ups and downs of life happen in books, too. It led us to have some deep conversations about life and how and why people act the way they do, which can be hard to have with kids.
Did I love every message in the book? No…Jacky’s concern that her father is having an affair is something that I’d rather my daughter wait to have to start facing, but I was surprised by how well she dealt with it without generalizing it too much into “real” life. I did like some of the conversations we had about finding ways to deal with parts of our live (and personalities) that aren’t “perfect” – which is an issue for my daughter who likes to do everything perfectly or not at all.
The book is a “thick” chapter book, but it’s utterly readable. It’s fast and funny and doesn’t talk down to kids. Little Miss loves that there are sketches that break up the pages throughout the book, as well. It’s fun to give a little more visual perspective on what she has going on in her head, she says.
Jacky is a 12 year old with a stutter. Her mom is in the military and currently deployed, while her dad is always busy and away, leaving Jacky feeling alone and confused about many things. To copy, Jacky is the jokester who would rather make everyone laugh than give them time to realize they could or should be laughing at her instead. While this isn’t the healthiest or best solution to all life’s troubles, it works for Jacky…until it doesn’t.
She has a teacher who helps show her that always being the first one to make people laugh, even in situations where they should be focusing elsewhere, isn’t necessarily the best option. In fact, that teacher helps her channel her talents in new direction that helps her grow, and that’s exactly what I want for my own children. We always face adversity, and how we deal with it is the most important part of it. Having Jacky Ha-Ha be able to reinforce that lesson that I continually try to teach my own kids means we’ll be looking forward to the next (we hope!) book.