Jacob Two-Two is the youngest child in his family. He has two older brothers and two older sisters. He is two plus two plus two years old. Unlike his older siblings, there are many things that Jacob can not do, like ride a two wheel bike, run errands for his parents, or cross the street alone. Because he was the smallest and youngest in his large and boisterous family, Jacob developed the habit of saying everything two times, since no one ever listened the first time. This habit got him in trouble with adults who thought he was mocking them.
In this first book of what became a series about the adventures of Jacob Two-Two, Jacob is finally allowed to do an errand for his mother and is sent to the grocer for *two pounds of firm red tomatoes*. Being Jacob Two-Two, he asks for *I want two pounds of firm red tomatoes. I want two pounds of firm red tomatoes* which aggravates the Grocer, who decides to abuse his adult power to tease Jacob with the help of the local policeman. Jacob runs away but is captured and tried for the heinous crime of Insulting a Big Person, convicted, and sentenced to Children’s Prison for 2 years, 2 months, 2 weeks, 2 days, 2 hours and 2 minutes. The Children’s Prison is on a secret and impossible to find fog-enshrouded island run by the Slimers and ruled by the terrifying Hooded Fang. Fortunately, Jacob is being searched for by the legendary team of the intrepid Shapiro and the fearless O’Toole, also known as Child Power! Adventure ensues. No spoilers because you must read this book.
This book, you guys. Mordecai Richler was obviously a gifted writer. I mean, he’s Mordecai Freakin Richler. But not every gifted adult writer is going to be as in-tune to children and as brilliant at skewering adults and entertaining kids as this. Richler wrote this book for his youngest son Jacob in 1975, claiming it was not based on his family but naming every character after his own children. It is a joy to read aloud. The language delights the tongue.
Jacob Two-Two is considered a classic in my family. My grandmother used to read this book to us when I was a kid. The copy I re-read to write this review was gifted to the Squishies by an aunt who found a battered, well-loved hard cover copy at a yard sale and paid $20 for it so we could have it in classic form (pictured). I highly recommend it as a read-aloud book for littler ones or as a fun chapter book for older kids. Or just for you. It’s wonderful.