First in the Danny's Doodles series
By David A. Adler
Available now from Sourcebooks Jabberwocky
I believe this is the first book I've reviewed for such a young age group. The books tend to be too simple to interest me, and my niece isn't quite old enough for them yet. (Although she will be next year.) But I could not resist when offered a chance to review David A. Adler's new book.
For those of you who don't recognize his name, he's written a metric ton of books for kids. Most importantly for me, he wrote the Cam Jansen series. The Cam Jansen mysteries were basically one of two series I read when I was learning to read. I can remember checking them out of the library, one by one, figuring the words out and trying to solve the mystery along with Cam of the photographic memory. (I feel like Cam Jansen led me straight to Nancy Drew, which is obviously a terrific reading path to take.)
DANNY'S DOODLES: THE JELLY BEAN EXPERIMENT is the start of a new series, and I suspect another generation of kids will grow up reading books by Adler. THE JELLY BEAN EXPERIMENT is presented as Danny's journal, an informal record of his day-to-day doings. Currently, Danny is being roped into an experiment by Calvin Waffle, his class's strangest kid. I suspect most readers will easily identify with one of the two boys. (There are girl characters too!) The teacher is over-the-top mean, but in a funny way.
I thought THE JELLY BEAN EXPERIMENT was a fun story. Obviously, the two boys are going to end up being friends. But it was nice to see how Danny went along with Calvin's overtures, and then made his own efforts on behalf of Calvin in return. I also liked the experiment that brings the two boys together. It's obviously not great science, but it's the kind of crazy experiment I can see my niece coming up with. And it's nice to see science portrayed as something fun, interesting, and mysterious.
The titular doodles are drawn by Adler, and they add a nice element to the story. There are details from the text, and there are also totally irrelevant scribblings. They aren't overly sophisticated or on point, which adds a nice bit of verisimilitude. At the same time, they aren't so simple as to be unengaging. (And often, they're quite funny.)
I intend to give my copy of THE JELLY BEAN EXPERIMENT to my niece next year, when she's reading on her own. I think she'll enjoy it -- I just hope she won't start stuffing her khakis with jelly beans!
If you've got a child in your life, I'd consider entering the contest below. U.S. and Canada only, thanks.
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