Book Review: Danny's Doodles: The Jelly Bean Experiment

Author/Illustrator: David A. Adler
Publisher: Sourcebooks/Jabberwocky (September 3, 2013)
Source: Copy for Review
Audience: Second to Fourth Graders
Fiction * Friendship * Eccentricity

Description from GoodReads:
Danny Cohen's new friend is 100% weird.

New to Danny's fourth grade class, Calvin Waffle has a knack for following his classmates around to collect data for his science experiments. He carries jelly beans everywhere, and claims his father is a spy. Danny isn't quite sure just what to make of this quirky newcomer until Calvin reluctantly agrees to help the baseball team. His ability to correctly predict each pitch before it's thrown leads his team to victory and makes him a hero to his new friends.

David Adler, author of the popular Cam Jansen mystery series, creates another memorable character for his readers to befriend. Sure to be a publishing event.

My thoughts on this book:
Calvin Waffle is a bit strange.  He is interested in experiments, such as the one where he watches Danny Cohen for a week and writes down his observations.  Yet, that is only his baseline data.  Calvin must watch Danny for another week but this time he gives Danny jellybeans to put in his pockets. And though Calvin has some odd habits, Danny seems to accept them.  When Danny is paired up with Annie for a school report, that leaves Douglas to have to partner with Calvin. Will Calvin's strange ways hinder Douglas from getting a good grade? Does Calvin really have a father who is a spy or is that just a cover-up for his father leaving Calvin and his mother?

In some ways, this book is just as odd as Calvin.  I don't remember the last time where I read a story and the main characters actually brought homework to a party?!  However, Adler makes it work. He has created characters that readers will like.  There is humor but not so over the top that it becomes too much. And rather than teasing or bullying because someone is different, Danny's Doodles celebrates Calvin, who despite his strange behaviors and comments, actually has something very valuable to add.  I also loved that Danny's mother is an engineer and Calvin's mother has a similar eccentric streak as her son.

Danny's Doodles is a story that second and third graders will enjoy and look forward to reading.  Look for a copy in your local public library or independent bookstore.

For more about author/illustrator, David A. Adler, check out his website. To download an educator's guide for Danny's Doodles: The Jelly Bean Experiment, click here.