by Marc Zelinsky
Rick Sargent, illustrator
SHORT REVIEW (click here)
Back Cover: Jake and Alex share a glimpse of the life of a priest when, through the magic of two coins, Jake is transformed into Father Michaels. After a hair raising car ride to the priest’s church, they search for a way to reverse the magic. Jake continues Father Michael’s work, and they both learn something about being a priest and each other.
First Sentence: “Alex—Alex, come here!” Jake shouted from the bottom of the stairs.
What the Story is About: Ten-year-old Jake and his twelve-year-old sister Alex, get ahold of two coins from the 1700’s. Jake had spotted the coins attached under a drawer in a desk she bought at a flea market. Father Michael delivered the desk. Once they got ahold of the coins, the two kids ran outside into a hiding spot to examine them. Jake spots Father Michael leaving and, runs up to him, asks if he knows anything about the coins. When Jake puts one of the coins into Father Michael’s hand Jake magically transforms into the priest. Now he, as Father Michael, and Alex must find the way to reverse the spell before dinner.
What I Thought: Jake and Alex and the Holy Leap is a fast read at 56 pages. I liked the story. The story is well-written, and has basic story telling construction. The characters are not fleshed out well enough to really care about and at times, Jake sounded much younger than his stated ten years.
Jake somehow spies these coins attached to a used desk as Father Michaels and another man carry it into the house. Jake retrieves the coins while Alex stalls her mother and Father Michael, once with conversation and then by falling down in front of the two claiming to have hurt her knee/ankle. I found this an unimaginative way to buy Jake time to retrieve the coins. The attempt at humor fell flat, mainly because I have nothing invested in these characters. Outside, Alex foretells the coins’ innate powers when telling Jake not to separate the coins. Of course, Jake immediately does, handing one to Father Michael as he leaves the house. It is easy to guess the solution early in the story.
The kids do solve the conflict, which is great, but the solution was handed to Alex. The kids needed only a small effort to find and decipher it. I like the idea of the coins sending Alex and Jake on journeys to meet famous people or sites. There is much room for a number of stories in this proposed series. Yet I wonder, where was the original Father Michael when Jake transforms into him? Where was Jake’s body? Knowing this would have helped me buy into the story.
Jake and Alex and the Holy Leap is a nice chapter book for intermediate readers. The chapters are short easy reads that will hold children’s attention. Kids can follow the story, not needing to worry about complicated facts, characters, or situations. If the action were a notch higher, the series could hold reluctant readers attention to the end.
Short Review (click here)
by Marc Zelinsky website facebook twitter
Rick Sargent, illustrator website blog facebook twitter
Released June 5, 2013
Ages: 6 to 8
© Marc Zelinsky, used with permission
Text: Copyright © 2013 by Marc Zelinsky
Illustrations: Copyright © 2013 by Rick Sargent
DONATED TO LOCAL PUBLIC LIBRARY