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Danny's Doodles: The Jelly Bean Experiment Paperback – September 3, 2013
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From School Library Journal
Gr 1–3—Danny and his new neighbor, Calvin, must navigate Mrs. Cakel's strict fourth-grade class. Danny becomes the subject of the new boy's jellybean experiment. After devising a hypothesis and a control, Calvin fills Danny's pockets with the candy to see if it attracts friends. This experiment, his reluctance to socialize with classmates or play baseball, and his stories about his father "the spy," make Calvin an outcast. It is with Danny's help that Calvin learns to make friends. The doodles throughout the book are silly and engaging--providing a nice complement to the colorful characters. A great read for children who are ready for short chapter books, this title could also be used as an introduction to a unit on the scientific method.—Erica Thorsen Payne, Meriwether Lewis Elementary School, Charlottesville, VA
The author of the Cam Jansen books has created a new series about two unusual friends. After Calvin Waffles moves into the neighborhood, Danny Cohen starts walking to school with him. Oddball Calvin likes to conduct experiments and purposefully annoy their teacher, Mrs. Cake. Danny is an easygoing kid who mostly goes along with Calvin’s ideas—then Calvin starts an experiment that involves Danny stuffing his pockets with jelly beans. This experiments lead to a way for Calvin to fit in at school, and when Danny and his friends discover Calvin’s secret talent for reading people, Calvin becomes the star of the baseball team without ever touching a bat. Although Danny is the narrator, Calvin is the real focal point here. His difficulties at school and a subplot about his father are treated with sensitivity. This duo is sure to please fans of humorous books like the My Weird School series by Dan Gutman. With plenty of laughs and heart, this is a series to watch. Grades 3-5. --Tiffany Erickson
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Top customer reviews
All of the kid characters are fourth grade classmates. The target readership, at least according to the publisher, is grades one through three, which sounds right, but shouldn't discourage older kids from reading the books. Usually, for this audience, we get zany and antic plots and we get bigger than life heroes and heroines who have a knack for messing up and/or creating chaos. I can think of a dozen such characters right off the top of my head. This book delivers more.
Danny is the narrator; Calvin is the "weird" loner; Annie is a slightly bossy classmate with a mild sneaker for Danny; Douglas is a classmate who just ignores Calvin because he's weird. Each of these kids confounds your expectations by being decent, generous, understanding, honest and kind every time there is an opportunity for the usual fictional angst or smartmouth or meanness. They are anti-fictional; they are real-real.
Danny is more patient with Calvin than you expect. Annie and Douglas are more opening to getting to know and like Calvin than you expect. Calvin is smarter, funnier, wiser, sadder and more socially attuned than you expect. Just when you think someone is going to get annoyed, they display understanding. Just when you expect anger you get forgiveness. Just when you expect childish drama you get restraint and perspective.
The action here is small. PLOT SPOILER ALERT. Calvin does an experiment to see if people treat Danny differently when he smells of jelly beans. The kids work as partners on a school report. Calvin helps the baseball team by reading the opposing pitcher's body language. The kids overlook Calvin's oddly touching fiction about where his father is. Everyone is bemused by Calvin's eccentric mother.
The writing is neither drippy nor cute. The dialogue says more than the people speaking realize. Danny's musing are not self-conscious and are almost age appropriate, but again, they tell us more than Danny realizes. There is a lot going on in this slim volume and it's all good. This is quality writing.
Please note that I received a free ecopy of this book in exchange for a candid review. Apart from that I have no connection at all to either the author or the publisher of this book.
I like this book for several reasons. It is easy to read and comprehend. It deals with a boy that could easily become the target of bullying, but instead shows a wonderful example of how that can be avoided. The moral is a nice side effect of the story. The story focuses on the jelly bean experiment and the friendship between Danny, Calvin, and a couple other kids. The moral of kindness is just a natural byproduct of the story.
The copy that I have is unfinished, so the illustrations are few in number and most aren't the final artwork. But there are enough spot illustrations scattered throughout the book to keep a child interested in the story through to the end.
This book is targeted at kids ages 7-10.
This book is definitely worth reading to find out the answers to my previously stated questions! As a first grade teacher, I would definitely recommend Elementary school students to read this book. It presents a situation that all kids can relate to: encountering someone who is different than yourself and learning how to create a friendship. Along with this wonderful theme, there are other elements that will help students with their reading. David A. Adler encourages students to use his doodles to aid in comprehension. He presents new vocabulary terms and explanations of them by the narrator, which in turn build the reader's context clue skills. Lastly, Adler incorporates historical and scientific information seamlessly within the story.
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