Jake's Best Thumb coverJake's Best Thumb

Ages 4-8
A sweet and fun remedy for young readers reluctant to give up their best thumb.

Jake is an expert at doing things with his best thumb. He can walk the dog, watch TV, even ride his bike. Jake and his thumb are happy together until kindergarten begins and the class bully teases Jake, calling him "thumb sucker." Jake doesn't want to give up his habit, but with some help from a new classmate and the realization that everyone-even bullies-sometimes need a little extra help to feel brave, Jake might finally be ready to try. Quirky illustrations and a charming story will have readers cheering for winsome Jake and his best thumb.

Jake illustration

Books by Booklist Authors:
Ilene Cooper’s Jake’s Best Thumb.

by Stephanie Zvirin
FEATURE. First published August, 2008 (Booklist).

With more than 30 novels and works of nonfiction for children to her credit, Ilene Cooper, Booklist’s Children’s Books editor, has recently ventured into picture books. Last year saw the publication of The Golden Rule (Abrams), beautifully illustrated by Gabi Swiatowska, and now we have Jake’s Best Thumb (published this month by Dutton and illustrated by Claudio Muñoz). This time Ilene moves from an issue of global proportions to one of a somewhat smaller scale—thumb sucking. How did she get from the Golden Rule to thumbs?

“All I had to do was go back to my own childhood. I was a thumb sucker. And I remember getting a lot of pressure from my relatives to give it up. Surprisingly, there were very few books on the subject, so I decided to write one myself.”

Then came the wait for the book to find an illustrator: “I don’t think anyone outside publishing has any idea how long it can take for a picture book to come to fruition. An illustrator has to be chosen. Then there’s the wait until he or she finishes other projects. And then more waiting to get the book illustrated and published. I signed the contract for this book about seven years ago. But it was well worth the wait!”