By Jerry Spinelli
Available now from Balzer + Bray (HarperCollins)
Jerry Spinelli is one of my favorite children's authors. MANIAC MAGEE, THE LIBRARY CARD, and STARGIRL were three of my absolute favorite books. JAKE AND LILY might not be an instant classic, but it is a wonderful story for boys and girls.
Jake and Lily are fraternal twins who sleepwalk to the train station on their birthday. It's one of many ways they're connected, including a sense for where the other is and what they're doing. But as they mature, they can't stay glued to each other. Jake starts hanging out with a group of neighborhood boys, led by Lily's archnemesis Bump Stubbins. Lily's left to her own devices, but she doesn't know who she is without her brother.
Spinelli manages to write about two very different subjects in a very natural way. There's a plotline about bullying and one about developing your own life. I liked that the bullying was something insidious - not deliberate maliciousness, but going along with the crowd because it's fun. It takes Jake awhile to realize into the consequences of his behavior, but he does eventually get a clue. (And the kid his friends bully, Ernie, is priceless.) Lily's storyline takes a little while longer to get going, but the force of her emotions carries her half of the book. She's sometimes sad and often angry. Lily's a girl of action, but she just doesn't know what to do when her brother pulls away from her.
Growing older is never easy, and JAKE AND LILY is a terrific tale of two kids getting it wrong and getting it right in turns. The dual point of view is a terrific device that helps point out the difficulties Jake and Lily have in assessing their own attitude. This title will especially appeal to kids having trouble with their siblings or with a bully.