The Adventures of a Little Boy Trying to Grow Up

Children - General
Kindle Edition
Reviewed on 05/07/2014
Buy on Amazon

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    Book Review

Reviewed by Kathryn Bennett for Readers' Favorite

Jackie: The Adventures of a Little Boy Trying to Grow Up by John Tammela shows you how boys had fun in the 1930s and 1940s. Jackie grew up in a Finnish household in Niagara Falls on the Canadian side. He was the youngest boy with two older brothers, who constantly found a way to pick on him, and one older sister. It is a true to life story and takes us through the growing up stages, and how to have fun as a child with snow ball fights and more.

I love a coming of age story that is also true and John Tammela gives me what I like to read in the stories. While I am not old enough to have grown up when Jackie did, reading the story brought me back to my own childhood, little snippets and memories that you can enjoy. Jackie himself seems to be such a purely lovely child. I know all children have their moments but that innocence to the world that children have is fantastic, and I wish we didn’t lose it when we got older. This story to me is also a reminder of a simpler time that we have all lost; things were so different for children in the late 1930s than they are today. Some things were better and somethings were not as good, I think. John Tammela has written a beautiful story that is to be enjoyed from cover to cover. I had trouble setting this one down and enjoyed every single word.

Lit Amri

The year was 1938, and Jackie was a five-year-old (going on six) boy growing up in Canada together with his parents and his siblings; 14-year-old Eric, 12-year-old Liisa and 10-year-old Armas or Armie. Based on author John Tammela’s own childhood memories, Jackie: The Adventures of a Little Boy Trying to Grow Up is actually a memoir novelized into a charming adventure of a little boy growing up in a Finnish household in Niagara Falls, Canada in the late 1930s and early 1940s. This book is also dedicated to Tammela’s eldest brother Timo, who died the same year Tammela was born.

Though the story revolves around Jackie, I gravitated more toward Liisa. It took me some time, however, to get used to her name’s spelling. Liisa is probably the type of older sister that most of us wouldn't mind having growing up. Assertive as she is toward Jackie when it comes to ‘schooling’ him, her maternal instincts might be responsible for her impressive amount of patience. It clearly shows when she entertains Jackie’s playful made-up coronation in the beginning of the book. She even throws in ideas to make it more fun by involving her brothers and their parents.

The prose is flawless from start to finish. I love the pencil sketched illustrations that adorn the book. Even though it is categorized for younger readers, adults would definitely find it charming and worthy material to read. Overall, Jackie is a pleasant read for younger readers to look into the past and for adults to reminisce on their own childhood memories.

Mamta Madhavan

Jackie: The Adventures of a Little Boy Trying to Grow Up by John Tammela is the endearing story of Jackie's early years in Niagara Falls. The story is set in the 1930s and 1940s and Jackie, with his two older brothers and an older sister, will keep readers entertained with his adventures. He takes us through various stages of his life: his first crush, first day at school, his first (and only) mean teacher, and not to forget the terrifying ride over the Niagara river or being lost in a snow storm. This is an engaging trip for readers who are taken along with Jackie to have a glimpse into his exciting life.

Jackie's first hike, first day in school, falling sick, his unforgettable stay at the hospital and many more are relevant to kids because many of them would have gone through the same experiences and adventures. I liked the book for its simplicity and its narration of the pleasures and disappointments of day-to-day life. Set against the backdrop of Canada, known for its cold climate, the author has captured the ethereal and pristine beauty of snow.

There is a feeling toward the end of sadness when Jackie hears that the family and he will have to face a turning point in their lives. It is a very simple story that speaks about love, bonding and friendship. The questions at the end of the book for readers to consider are useful to them in reflecting more about the story once they finish reading.