Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Danny's Doodles: The Jelly Bean Experiment

Danny's Doodles: The Jelly Bean Experiment

David A. Adler
For ages 7 to 9
Sourcebooks , 2013   ISBN: 978-1402287213

Danny Cohen’s new classmate and friend, Calvin Waffle, is a rather odd boy. Last week he followed Danny everywhere, noting down who Danny spoke to and how long they talked. Calvin has explained that he needs the information he is gathering for an experiment that he is putting together. According to him, statistics are “the backbone of science.” Danny is not convinced, and he is keen to know what the experiment is, but Danny is not telling. Yet.

   On Monday of this week Calvin puts jelly beans in Danny’s pockets and Danny is going to have to put up with being followed around again. Apparently last week was the “control” week  for the experiment, and this week the experiment begins in earnest. Calvin still isn’t willing to explain what he is doing because he does not want to “skew” his results.

   Calvin insists that he keep his distance from Danny, which presents a problem. Calvin’s mother has baked a cake and Calvin is supposed to bring some friends over to eat it. So far Danny is Calvin’s only friend and his odd behavior (shadowing Danny) is making it impossible for Calvin to make more friends.

   Then Danny’s teacher announces that the students are going to do reports in pairs. Danny is paired with Annie, and Calvin is paired with Douglas. Douglas is worried that Calvin won’t do his share of the work and Danny tells him that he is sure Calvin would not do such a thing. In an effort to help Calvin out, Danny suggests that they all go to Calvin’s house on the weekend. The experiment will be over and they can eat all the jellybeans.

   When the four children get together on Sunday at Calvin’s house they finally find out what Calvin’s experiment was all about, and Danny begins to understand that though Calvin Waffle certainly is a “weird” person, he also is a pretty interesting one. He is also a friend, and sometimes you put up with friends even when they are being strange.

   In this wonderful story we see how friendships can grow between rather unlikely people. The author beautifully develops his characters, making them both colorful and credible. The problems children have as they try to ‘fit in’ are explored with both humor and sensitivity.