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Jacob Two-Two Meets the Hooded Fang completes the trilogy of books this week that I have revisited from my childhood. Jacob Two-Two and the Hooded Fang is the first of a series about Jacob Two-Two by celebrated novelist Mordecai Richler, best know for his novels for adults.

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Jacob Two-Two is called Jacob Two-Two because he is two times two times two years old, he has two brothers and two sisters, two arms, two legs and two eyes. He also has to say everything twice in order to be heard by any of his brilliant and exasperating family, as he is the youngest and least important of all of them, or so he thinks.

Jacob Two-Two finds himself running his first grown up errand for his father. Sent to the green grocers he is instructed to buy two pounds of ripe, red tomatoes. The grocer is a nasty piece of work, and mocks Jacob for saying everything twice. Jacob runs off before the adults can convince him that he is being teased, and it is at this point that the book diverges into high fantasy.

Jacob suddenly finds himself in another world, although this is never made explicit in the book, relying instead upon the reader to realise that Jacob’s narrative has taken rather an unusual twist.

Jacob is arrested by a policeman for being rude to a grown up. He is taken to court where he is ineffectually defended by the worst lawyer in the world, Louis the Loser.

Jacob finds himself shipped off to Slimer’s Island and the child prison, presided over by the evil Hooded Fang. Will he be rescued by the Fearless O’Toole and Intrepid Shapiro, founder members of Child Power, or will he stay in prison for two years, two months, two weeks, two days, two hours and two minutes?

This is one of my favourite childhood reads, and over the years, as it has fallen out of print and out of favour, I have tracked down copies all over the world and given them as gifts to friends, and read them to my own children. It is currently in print again and I have just finished reading it to my seven year old son.

My girls both loved this when they were younger. Oscar is not so keen. He finds the slightly old fashioned language rather off putting, although he grudgingly admitted that the story was very good, and he loved the Child Power heroes.

The book is too old fashioned to be read by anything other than a very confident reader, despite the shortness of the book and the plethora of black and white illustrations that accompany the text. It is a wonderful book for an adult to read to a child, as it has plenty of great jokes that work for grown ups, even if they sail over children’s heads.

I recommend this to boys and girls aged eight to twelve. It would be good to read in class if you were looking for something to support a topic on children growing up and dealing with fear, as underneath the funny story there is a very real attempt to show how not understanding a grown up world can frighten a child, and also to show how a child can empower themselves and realise how brave they are after all.

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