News

Just Jake

Read an excerpt from a book by a 13-year-old author

February 21, 2014
COURTESY PENGUIN YOUNG READERS GROUP

Jake Marcionette, 13, is pubishing his first book.

What does it take to make it through middle school—and life? Jake Marcionette, 13, shares his rules of "awesomeness" in his book Just Jake. It is available in bookstores this month. The Ponte Vedra, Florida, eighth grader says the book is loosely based on his own experiences. "Some of the things really did happen to me, but then there is some fiction in it," Jake told TFK.

Just Jake by Jake Marcionette

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Just Jake by Jake Marcionette

Here’s an excerpt from chapter 1 of Jake’s book, Just Jake (Grosset & Dunlap, 2014):



The hotel’s cheap alarm clock blared inches away from my head. I jumped out of bed in an absolute panic. It sounded like the room had been invaded by an eighties metal band.

Bug-eyed and frantic, I saw my dad standing in the bathroom doorway, already dressed and ready to go.

“Nothing like a little Guns N’ Roses to get the adrenaline pumping,” he shouted over the deafening radio.

“Come on, Dad! It’s five a.m. You said we could sleep until seven. Are you kidding with that alarm?” I protested.

“Sorry, Jake,” he said. “A good soldier has to adapt to any and all circumstances. We need to bug out a bit earlier due to road construction. It’s a long trip to Maryland, so we need to get a move on.”

Mom and Alexis still hadn’t moved a muscle, even though the alarm was screaming away. It takes a special ability to be able to sleep through anything. Evidently, I didn’t inherit my mom’s comatose gene.

Dad hauled the first load of luggage off to the car and instructed me to wake the two sleeping beauties. “Well, now that I’m up . . . with pleasure!”

I decided to tackle the most difficult assignment first. My big sister, Alexis, routinely treated me as her personal punching bag. To make matters worse, she HATED being woken up. This amounted to a lose/lose proposition for me. But I wasn’t going to let my dad down. I hoped Alexis would be too sleepy to go completely ballistic.

I approached my sleeping teen sister as cautiously as a game warden would an anaesthetized lioness. They know they need to get that radio collar on the animal, but they’re terrified the beast is going to wake up.

I considered the situation for a second. Maybe I could just start whacking her with my pillow till she got up. No, no, no . . . an early morning hospital visit would be MOST unappreciated by my dad. She needed to make it to the car in one piece.

Realizing what I had to do, I went in.

“Alleeeexxxxxxiiiiiissssssss,” I cooed in my most soothing “baby” voice. Braced for the worse, I jumped back, anticipating a violent explosion of arms, pillows, and blankets.

NOTHING!

I tried the angelic approach one more time but, again, no sign of life. Dad wasn’t going to appreciate my lack of effort. He gave me a task, and I intended to complete it. The third time had to be the charm, and I had a plan.

Approaching Alexis in pure stealth mode, my target was her beloved teddy bear, Mr. Chuckles. Very carefully, I rescued the bear from a nine-hour headlock. It was time for Chuckie to enjoy an unscheduled makeover.

I started wrapping the bear in toilet paper. I was going for a mummified look—very ancient Egypt. Mr. Chuckles looked a little parched, so I grabbed Alexis’s water bottle and splashed his face with some refreshing H2O. Mr. Chuckles was finally ready for his face-to-face with Alexis.

Shoving the furry little King Tut into Alexis’s face for a BIG WET MORNING KISS probably wasn’t my proudest moment. But my dad ordered me to wake up Sleeping Beauty so a soggy kiss from Prince Chuckles was the perfect solution!

I knew Alexis would finally wake from her slumber. And she did!

As she opened her eyes and furrowed her brow, the shriek in her voice assured me I had scared her good. “Mr. CHUCKLES!?!?!” she wailed, followed by a slight pause and a refocused priority. “YOU!! You are DEAD!”

She grabbed me by the shirt collar, and it took everything I had to break free. However, we were in a crowded hotel room with two double beds, and I didn’t have much room for evasive maneuvers. Alexis was immediately on her feet and in pursuit of her tormentor.

My only chance was to make it to the bathroom. Backing into the TV stand, I turned to run for the safety of the flimsy door and its push-button interior lock. Unfortunately, I didn’t see the load of luggage my dad had placed neatly in front of the closet door.

BOOM! Down I went. Still thinking I had a shot to make it to the bathroom, I started crawling like an infant on his first playdate. My arms and legs were moving surprisingly fast, and I seemed to be cruising along . . . or so I thought. Actually, I wasn’t moving at all.

Quickly, the excitement of my “escape” gave way to the downward pressure of a giant foot placed on the small of my back. Alexis wore a size nine-and-a-half! She had caught her prey and was toying with me like a cat with a mouse.

Flipping me over on my back, Alexis pinned my face to the ground. Knowing about my severe germaphobia, I’m sure she enjoyed smashing my cheek into the sticky floor.

I immediately envisioned a swarm of bedbugs infesting my hair. GROSS!!

The struggle was escalating and getting louder by the second. Seriously, Mom, how do you sleep through this?!

“Torturing Mr. Chuckles isn’t very FUNNY, he has FEELINGS!” Alexis said with an extra thrust. “Is the hotel floor tasty?”

Then, like the bugle call of the cavalry coming to the rescue of a surrounded wagon train, I heard the unmistakable sound of a plastic room key being inserted, followed by the glorious click of the automatic door release. I looked up to see my dad’s smiling face.

“Great work, Jake! I didn’t think you’d ever get her up. Way to go! Where’s Mom?” Dad asked, as he stepped over us to collect luggage load number two. an infant on his first play date. My arms and legs were moving surprisingly fast, and I seemed to be cruising along . . . or so I thought. Actually, I wasn’t moving at all.

Quickly, the excitement of my “escape” gave way to the downward pressure of a giant foot placed on the small of my back. Alexis wore a size nine-and-a-half! She had caught her prey and was toying with me like a cat with a mouse.

Flipping me over on my back, Alexis pinned my face to the ground. Knowing about my severe germaphobia, I’m sure she enjoyed smashing my cheek into the sticky floor. I immediately envisioned a swarm of bedbugs infesting my hair. GROSS!!

The struggle was escalating and getting louder by the second. Seriously, Mom, how do you sleep through this?!

“Torturing Mr. Chuckles isn’t very FUNNY, he has FEELINGS!” Alexis said with an extra thrust. “Is the hotel floor tasty?”

Then like the bugle call of the cavalry coming to the rescue of a surrounded wagon train, I heard the unmistakable sound of a plastic room key being inserted, followed by the glorious click of the automatic door release. I looked up to see my dad’s smiling face.

“Great work, Jake! I didn’t think you’d ever get her up. Way to go! Where’s Mom?” Dad asked, as he stepped over us to collect luggage load number two.



Copyright © 2014 by Jake Marcionette. Reprinted with permission of Grosset & Dunlap.


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