My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Jonny Jakes a.k.a. Fiona Friend is an undercover journalist/detective for the school newspaper The Woodford Word. Jonny Jakes of course is not his real name, but his real identity is a secret. His mission is to speak the truth about news and events that happen in his school, but the school principal doesn’t like Jonny Jakes and all the things he writes about him on The Woodford Word. Mr Hardy, the principal, is trying to find out the secret identity of Jonny Jakes and put an end to his truth-speaking paper but has not succeeded so far. When one day, Jonny Jakes discovers that there is a new school principal taking the place of Mr. Hardy, and that’s when things go wrong!
This was a fun story and short enough for young kids to be able to finish without getting overwhelmed. The cover of the book is very pretty and playful and fits the concept of the story. There were a few things that I enjoyed. For example, the voice and character of Jonny Jakes was very cool. He reminded me of the kids in the movies that talk over the scenes and explain what is going through their minds as events are unraveling. This gives the sense that Jonny is a very cool (drinks a lot of coffee and stays up all night) detective and I can definitely see young children liking the character and wanting to be like him.
Another thing that I liked was that I had no idea where the story was going to go at the beginning and what this new principal’s deal was. Moreover, Jonny Jakes is a kid that loves writing on his newspaper and makes a lot of effort for it which gives a good lesson of finding something you really love and doing your best to be good at it.
There is some good humour throughout the book. I think kids will definitely enjoy some funny and smart puns:
“I’m spending so much time in my bedroom that I’ve started naming the furniture”
I also appreciated the fact that the author is expecting the children to think about some lines and the humour is mostly not silly. In other words, he holds the children’s level of intelligence quite high and I find this really good. At the same time this could have some disadvantages, as some lines or sentences might be a little bit difficult to understand.
After the first 50 pages of the book the plot starts to pick up and becomes more fast-paced. I believe the last part especially will keep young readers at the edge of their seats.
What I did not like though was that that some things that occurred towards the end didn’t make a lot of sense. I would have liked it, if there was at least some kind of explanation with a face value about some scenes that took place. Like when Jonny realises he has tomato puree in his pocket (I don’t want to say any more in case of spoilers). How did it get there? It would have made more sense if there was a mention of it before that or at least I would have liked to see that.
One more thing that I didn’t like was the portrait of Norris as big and goofy and kind of not as smart as the rest of the children at the beginning. I felt it was kind of stereotypical and unnecessary (big guy with muscles but not brains).
I can definitely see Jonny Jakes being a role model for young readers and I think the book could be a good beginning for maybe a series of books. Jonny Jakes solving mysteries in his school. A book with a good amount of mystery, suspense and action for young audiences!