The Graduation of Jake Moon

( 12 )

Overview

HOW CAN YOU LOVE SOMEONE AND RESENT HIM AT THE SAME TIME?
Jake Moon used to love the time he spent with his grandfather, Skelly, but that was before Skelly got Alzheimer's disease. All of a sudden, it's as if Skelly is the kid, and Jake has to be the grown-up. Much of Skelly's care becomes Jake's responsibility, and that doesn't leave much time for a life of his own.
Then, one day Jake rebels, and the ...
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Overview

HOW CAN YOU LOVE SOMEONE AND RESENT HIM AT THE SAME TIME?
Jake Moon used to love the time he spent with his grandfather, Skelly, but that was before Skelly got Alzheimer's disease. All of a sudden, it's as if Skelly is the kid, and Jake has to be the grown-up. Much of Skelly's care becomes Jake's responsibility, and that doesn't leave much time for a life of his own.
Then, one day Jake rebels, and the unthinkable happens. Has Jake discovered too late how much his grandfather still means to him?

Fourteen-year-old Jake recalls how he has spent the last four years of his life watching his grandfather descend slowly but surely into the horrors of Alzheimer's disease.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
HAs she did in Mick Harte Was Here, Park introduces an uncommonly sympathetic and articulate young narrator who lightly relays a story with tragic underpinnings. Here, eighth-grader Jake Moon recounts his beloved grandfather's diagnosis with Alzheimer's disease and the dramatic changes his illness brings to Jake's life. Since his infancy, Jake and his single mother have lived with big-hearted Skelly, who "had a way of believing in you, that made you want to believe in yourself." Never maudlin, even infusing sturdy humor into some of his sad observations, Jake poignantly describes Skelly's gradual debilitation as Alzheimer's robs him of his memory and brings on a heartbreaking reversal of roles between adult and child. Park subtly and affectingly reveals Jake's growing maturity and acceptance of an awful inevitability. The plot culminates in Jake's eighth-grade graduation, when the boy rushes to his grandfather's side after the old man wanders onto the auditorium stage and starts to cry in his confusion. At one point in the story, Skelly breaks into a huge grin when served his favorite breakfast and Jake comments: "It was one of those moments that can make you smile and break your heart at the same time." Readers will discover many such moments in this memorable novel. Ages 9-12. (Sept.) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.|
Publishers Weekly
PW gave a starred review to this "memorable" novel narrated by an eighth-grader whose beloved grandfather has Alzheimer's disease. Ages 9-12. (June) Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Children's Literature
You know what you'll get in each new book from Barbara Park. When you see her name on a book's cover, you expect humor and characters who are very human and real. In her latest book, Park's humor takes a back seat to her commitment to character. Her new hero is Jake Moon, the son of a single mother, who has grown up with his supportive, nurturing Grandfather Skelly. Now, Skelly has Alzheimer's disease and Jake is resentful, embarrassed and overwhelmed with responsibility. The book might be funny if Jake were not hurting so much. Park is true to Jake and lets him take the lead. She does the best she can for him by giving him the gifts of intelligence, honesty and the sardonic sense of humor so many middle schoolers understand. Tortured while writing a book report, Jake comments, "Trust me, if anyone in your class ever looks amused while you're giving an oral book report, it's because your zipper is down." 2000, Atheneum, $15.00. Ages 9 to 12. Reviewer: Susie Wilde
School Library Journal
Gr 4-6-Three boys watch an old man teeter on the side of a dumpster. Two of them taunt him until he acknowledges them and they realize that he doesn't understand their insults. The third boy is Jake, the confused man's grandson. This short and moving novel deals with his relationship with his grandfather as Skelly's Alzheimer's slowly worsens. The youngster changes considerably from when readers meet him in third grade until his graduation from eighth grade. He starts out looking after his grandfather an hour a day, a job that becomes more and more onerous. He is embarrassed by Skelly's increasingly erratic behavior and becomes alienated from his friends. His relationships with his wealthy aunt and cousin are also strained because Jake feels that they are buying their way out of caregiving. Jake is a well-rounded and believable character surrounded by colorful and equally realistic supporting characters. His acceptance of Skelly's condition and the evolving relationships in his family signal a hopeful start to the next phase of his life. This novel demonstrates the horror of Alzheimer's disease, both to the afflicted person and to the loved ones, and it is written in an accessible style that will appeal to a wide audience.-Betsy Fraser, Calgary Public Library, Canada Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.|
Kirkus Reviews
Jake Moon's grandfather Skelly used to be the emotional fixer in Jake's household, the one who soothed his hurts and helped him through hard times. But when Jake is in third grade, Skelly begins forgetting things and by the time Jake is ready to graduate from eighth grade Skelly's Alzheimer's has progressed to the point where he is barely aware of his surroundings. Jake learns from Skelly's doctor that Alzheimer's disease has three stages, "each . . . worse than the one before it," which Jake thinks of as "(1) sad, (2) sadder, and (3) the saddest thing you've ever seen." The book chronicles not only Skelly's deterioration, but also the effect it has on Jake and his relationships with other family members and friends. As Skelly's condition worsens, their roles reverse and Jake finds himself caring for the man who once cared for him. That, coupled with the fact that his grandfather has become a tremendous embarrassment—at a sleepover, Skelly shows up in Jake's room without any pants or underpants, for example—causes Jake to disengage from friends and extracurricular activities. Park's convincing first-person narration rings true, and she is particularly adept at rendering Jake's complex emotional journey, which encompasses love, confusion, sadness, anger, embarrassment, shame, and finally acceptance. The book has some funny moments, but it's one of Park's darker, more poignant creations; readers expecting a Skinnybones-type laugh-a-thon will be sadly disappointed. Nonetheless, Park has produced a perceptive book that should prove useful to children who must navigate similar waters. (Fiction. 9-12)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780689839856
  • Publisher: Aladdin
  • Publication date: 6/1/2002
  • Edition description: FIRST EDITION
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 128
  • Sales rank: 246,153
  • Age range: 9 - 12 Years
  • Product dimensions: 5.00 (w) x 7.60 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Barbara Park
Barbara Park is one of today's funniest and most popular authors for middle-graders. Her many successful novels include Mick Harte Was Here, which received fifteen state Children's Choice awards, including the Texas Bluebonnet Award; The Kid in the Red Jacket; and Skinnybones. She is also the best-selling author of the Junie B. Jones books, and Psssst...It's Me, the Bogeyman, a picture book.

Ms. Park lives in Scottsdale, Arizona, with her husband, Richard.

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    1. Hometown:
      Scottsdale, Arizona
    1. Date of Birth:
      April 21, 1947
    2. Place of Birth:
      Mt. Holly, New Jersey
    1. Education:
      B.S., University of Alabama, 1969
    2. Website:

Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1: The Twist

There are these three eighth-grade boys. They've just gotten out of school for the day. And they're about to take off in different directions, when they notice something going on in the trash Dumpster at the other end of the parking lot.

They're still pretty far away from it, but they can see an old man sitting on the edge of the thing. His back is facing them, and he's just sort of balancing himself there. Staring down into the bottom of the Dumpster.

The boys watch him for a second. And then one of them starts grinning. And he cups his hands around his mouth and shouts out, "Hey! Don't jump, Pops! You've got everything to live for!"

Then one of the other boys yells, "Yeah! Plus I heard the food is much better at the Dumpster up the street!"

So after that, both kids totally crack up. And it becomes this contest, sort of, to see who can holler out the funniest insults at the old guy.

Like the first kid asks the old man if he went to P.U. University. And then the second kid asks if he has any Grey Poupon.

But the third kid, see, he's just standing there not saying a word. Instead, his eyes are glued to the old guy, almost. Like he's waiting for a reaction.

Only that's the thing. Because there is no reaction. Not at first, anyway. At first, the old man never even turns around. So the boys begin to think that maybe the guy's deaf or something. Which totally takes the fun out of shouting insults.

But then — out of the blue — something seems to click in the old man's brain. I mean, even from the back you can see his head sort of perk up. It's like he gets it now, you know? He suddenly understands that all this yelling has been directed at him.

And so he lowers himself down into the trash bin. And then he turns around to see who's been talking to him.

And that's pretty much that. The fun is over. Because even from the other end of the parking lot, it's obvious to the boys that there's something really wrong with the old guy. That he's just not right in the head. Instead of acting mad or angry or even insulted, his face actually brightens. And he waves as friendly as anything, and shouts, "Hullo, fellas!"

And it's so pathetic, I can't even tell you.

The two boys shut up after that. I mean, they chuckle a little bit and all. But you can tell they're not exactly busting with pride over making fun of a retarded old man.

But see, the third kid — the one who kept quiet — he doesn't have anything to be ashamed about at all. Because like I said, he didn't do anything.

So if you happened to be passing by and you saw this whole thing going on, you'd probably think that the third kid was the good kid. That he was the one with a conscience or some sense of decency or something.

Only that's the weird thing about this story.

That's the twist, I guess you'd call it.

On account of the third kid turned out to be the most shameful of all.

Because the third kid was me.

And the old man in the Dumpster was my grandfather.

Copyright © 2000 by Barbara Park

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Table of Contents

Contents

Chapter 1: The Twist

Chapter 2: Thor, God of Thunder

Chapter 3: Be-hinds and Other Family Matters

Chapter 4: Lucky Duck

Chapter 5: Just Say No

Chapter 6: The Nut

Chapter 7: The Pearl

Chapter 8: Sinking and Floating

Chapter 9: Officer Happy

Chapter 10: Sherman Kelly

Chapter 11: Candle Burns

Chapter 12: Graduation Boy

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First Chapter

Chapter 1: The Twist

There are these three eighth-grade boys. They've just gotten out of school for the day. And they're about to take off in different directions, when they notice something going on in the trash Dumpster at the other end of the parking lot.

They're still pretty far away from it, but they can see an old man sitting on the edge of the thing. His back is facing them, and he's just sort of balancing himself there. Staring down into the bottom of the Dumpster.

The boys watch him for a second. And then one of them starts grinning. And he cups his hands around his mouth and shouts out, "Hey! Don't jump, Pops! You've got everything to live for!"

Then one of the other boys yells, "Yeah! Plus I heard the food is much better at the Dumpster up the street!"

So after that, both kids totally crack up. And it becomes this contest, sort of, to see who can holler out the funniest insults at the old guy.

Like the first kid asks the old man if he went to P.U. University. And then the second kid asks if he has any Grey Poupon.

But the third kid, see, he's just standing there not saying a word. Instead, his eyes are glued to the old guy, almost. Like he's waiting for a reaction.

Only that's the thing. Because there is no reaction. Not at first, anyway. At first, the old man never even turns around. So the boys begin to think that maybe the guy's deaf or something. Which totally takes the fun out of shouting insults.

But then -- out of the blue -- something seems to click in the old man's brain. I mean, even from the back you can see his head sort of perk up. It's like he gets it now, you know? He suddenly understands that all this yelling has been directed at him.

And so he lowers himself down into the trash bin. And then he turns around to see who's been talking to him.

And that's pretty much that. The fun is over. Because even from the other end of the parking lot, it's obvious to the boys that there's something really wrong with the old guy. That he's just not right in the head. Instead of acting mad or angry or even insulted, his face actually brightens. And he waves as friendly as anything, and shouts, "Hullo, fellas!"

And it's so pathetic, I can't even tell you.

The two boys shut up after that. I mean, they chuckle a little bit and all. But you can tell they're not exactly busting with pride over making fun of a retarded old man.

But see, the third kid -- the one who kept quiet -- he doesn't have anything to be ashamed about at all. Because like I said, he didn't do anything.

So if you happened to be passing by and you saw this whole thing going on, you'd probably think that the third kid was the good kid. That he was the one with a conscience or some sense of decency or something.

Only that's the weird thing about this story.

That's the twist, I guess you'd call it.

On account of the third kid turned out to be the most shameful of all.

Because the third kid was me.

And the old man in the Dumpster was my grandfather.

Copyright © 2000 by Barbara Park

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Introduction

A GUIDE FOR READING GROUPS
THE GRADUATION OF JAKE MOON

By Barbara Park

ABOUT THE BOOK

Fourteen-year-old Jake Moon recalls the last four years of life with his beloved grandfather who has Alzheimer's disease.

THEMES

Alzheimer's disease; Grandfathers; Families; Responsibilities; School stories

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

- Do you understand how Jake can be so embarrassed by yet still love his grandfather? How would you react?

- How would your life change if someone in your family required constant care because of Alzheimer's? For what other reasons would someone require care?

- Why do Jake and his cousin James not get along? What do they not understand about each other?

ACTIVITIES

- Using the contact information at the end of the book, begin to find out more about Alzheimer's disease.

- If there is a local Alzheimer's care center in the area, invite a caseworker, caregiver, or a family member to share their experiences and knowledge.

- Contact the local police department and television stations to discover how they approach a missing family member. What do they both need and how does their help differ?

Please visit http://www.emporia.edu/libsv/wawbookaward/ for more information about the awards and to see curriculum guides for other master list titles.

This reading group guide is for classroom, library, and reading group use. It may be reproduced in its entirety or excerpted for these purposes.

Prepared by Julie Tomlianovich, South Central KS Library System

© William Allen White Children's Book Award

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Reading Group Guide

A GUIDE FOR READING GROUPS
THE GRADUATION OF JAKE MOON

By Barbara Park

ABOUT THE BOOK

Fourteen-year-old Jake Moon recalls the last four years of life with his beloved grandfather who has Alzheimer's disease.

THEMES

Alzheimer's disease; Grandfathers; Families; Responsibilities; School stories

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

- Do you understand how Jake can be so embarrassed by yet still love his grandfather? How would you react?

- How would your life change if someone in your family required constant care because of Alzheimer's? For what other reasons would someone require care?

- Why do Jake and his cousin James not get along? What do they not understand about each other?

ACTIVITIES

- Using the contact information at the end of the book, begin to find out more about Alzheimer's disease.

- If there is a local Alzheimer's care center in the area, invite a caseworker, caregiver, or a family member to share their experiences and knowledge.

- Contact the local police department and television stations to discover how they approach a missing family member. What do they both need and how does their help differ?

Please visit http://www.emporia.edu/libsv/wawbookaward/ for more information about the awards and to see curriculum guides for other master list titles.

This reading group guide is for classroom, library, and reading group use. It may be reproduced in its entirety or excerpted for these purposes.

Prepared by Julie Tomlianovich, South Central KS Library System

© William Allen White Children's Book Award

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 12 )
Rating Distribution

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Sort by: Showing all of 12 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 7, 2009

    Graduation of Jake Moon

    Jake Moon is a boy that likes to spend time with his grandfather. Jake feels sorry for his grandfather because he has Alzheimer's disease. Everything Skelly cared about is now Jake's responsibility, so that means Jake is constantly helping Skelly out.

    Throughout the first couple chapters you can tell that Skelly's mind gets worse.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 7, 2009

    Graduation of Jake Moon

    Before reading this book, I had no idea what the book would be about. When we started reading this book i thought that it was pretty good and the author did a good job writing this book. The book that we started reading is called "The Graduation of Jake Moon." The author gives you an image while reading this book. I think that the character Jake gives you a good image in your head of how this story is all about. His grandpa Skelly has All Timers in his brain that makes him not think that well, Jake sometimes doesn't like it, because when anyone is telling him something they have to repeat themselves like about 2 or 3 times until he understands what their saying to him. The author of the book is Barbara Park.


    Barbara Park gives you a good picture in your head while reading this book, you can kinda see how it would look like if they ever make a movie out of it. My favorite part of this book is when Skelly comes back home after he ran away. There's a character named James ans him and Jake are cousins, they don't get along that well. That relates to some people that have cousins and don't get along with them that well,that's how some people are with their cousins.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 6, 2009

    The Graduation of Jake Moon

    I just finished reading The Graduation of Jake Moon. Before I read it, I thought that it was going be about a boy who graduated from middle school. When I finished the book, I realized that it was a heartwarming book that had a great lesson to it. I learned that no matter how embarrassing your relatives are, they make up who you truly are inside.
    The Graduation of Jake Moon is about a boy whose grandfather has Alzheimer's disease. He goes through a lot of trouble because his grandfather embarrasses him a lot. He then realizes that if his grandfather didn't have Alzheimer's disease he would be the person he is today. I recommend this book to people ten years and older because it is an easy read.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 26, 2006

    Jake Moon

    Jake Moon is a great boy, who loves his grandfather a lot! Ecept when his grndfather gets alzheimerz disease, he hates him!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 28, 2005

    I love soccer

    Jake Moon's world changed for ever when his Grandfather,Skelly, got the Alzhemimer's disease. At the beginning of the book Jake thought it was just a disease that made old people forget things, but in fact this was a big deal. Skelly's disease caused Jake to be unable to invite any of his friends because Skelly might do something very embarrassing. At the end of the book Jake Graduates from eighth grade and Skelly coninues on with his old life. If you want to know what happens and how the characters handle the different situations, you will have to read this book to figure out what will happen. I would recommend this book to any person in fourth through sixth grade. I would give this book a four star,especially because Barbara Park wrote this book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 23, 2003

    AWESOME!!!

    This book will give you a thought about what it feels like if a loved-one has Alzheimer's disease. You will feel as if you are in the book and I strongly recomend it. You will feel like you are in Jake's shoes and you must be the grown-up when your grandfather is acting like a child.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 2, 2002

    GRREEEAAAATTTEST BOOK EVER

    I'm not really a kid who likes to read, but I was sad to see this book end. Some parts were funny and some parts were very sad. This is a very touching story. I hope there will be a sequel. This book has inspired me to read more books than usual.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 8, 2002

    A Favorite

    The Graduation of Jake Moon was one of the best books but, then again, one of the saddest books I ever read. The book is about Jake Moon's grandfather named Skelly. His real name was Sherman Kelly but he hated that name so thts how they came up with Skelly. He had alzheimers and it makes him do lots of crazy stuff. One time he was on his way to the shower while one of Jake's friends were sleeping over and Skelly heard voices so he came in NAKED! What the book does is it goes through Jake's life until his eighth grade graduation. There were so many reasons for him to hate his life, but life goes on. See if you like the book by reading it too! I'd reccomend this book to someone who likes sort of different books.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 2, 2002

    Its Excellent

    It is Excellent. I dont think ive ever read any book better than this. It has alot of drama and suspense. I think you should really read it.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 15, 2002

    THE BEST BOOK OF ALL TIME

    The Graduation of Jake Moon is about a boy whose world is turned upside-down when his grandfather is diagnosed with Alzheimer's. Jake is humiliated by his grandfather's actions but then he learns something. I loved this book because it was deep and it really made me think. It is very sad(I cried)but it is funny too. Don't leave this book sitting on the shelf. Read it!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 9, 2002

    Great

    I loved this book because my grandma has Alzheimer's so I could relate directly to Jake. This is a great book for people to see that people with Alzheimer's are still people and deserve the same love and care as every one else. Everyone should read this book because it shows that Alzheimer's is a disease that is on the surface and that the person with Alzheimers is the same person that you have always loved inside.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 6, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

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