Danny's Doodles: The Jelly Bean Experiment - David A. Adler

I am currently searching for a beginning chapter book to read with my oldest (6 years of age). Something like this seemed right to me for several reasons.

1.) It had a male lead character that I hoped would appeal to my son.
2.) It literally had Danny's doodles every other page to keep things interesting for my little man.
3.) It is supposedly geared toward a very young beginner audience. It was categorized as a 1st grade read by the library, though Danny (the main character) is in 4th grade.

My problem with this book is that it gets in the way of itself. It's so busy trying to teach my kid something that it colossally fails at hooking my kid into reading for the pure enjoyment of it all. I feel pretty strongly that books should do that, hook the reader. Bonus to an author who doesn't underestimate their audience and writes prose that intuitively teaches a lesson.

I offer you my gripes by example:

A lesson in why math is important in the real world:

“I need them for my experiment,” Calvin told me. “They’re statistics, the backbone of science.”

"I know what statistics are. They’re the backbone of sports. I know baseball batting averages"


A lesson in science:

“Last week was the control,” he says. “This week is the experiment.”

A vocab lesson:

“You’ll skew the experiment.”


“Skew?”


“Change.”


A history lesson:


"I bet that’s how George Washington Carver’s peanuts felt. Carver did experiments with peanuts. He found lots of ways to use them like making them into gunpowder."


When discussing the consumption of jelly beans with friends, Danny encounters these brilliant responses from his friends - or a lesson in nutrition:

“I want oranges,” Douglas says. “Oranges are loaded with vitamin C.”

“Mom always tells me to eat my greens,” Annie says. “Greens have lots of vitamins.”

I’m sure they’re joking. I wait, but neither of them laughs. “Oranges that grow on trees have vitamin C,” I tell Douglas and Annie. “Green vegetables have vitamins. Orange and green jelly beans just have lots of sugar.”



I read through the book once and tried a chapter with my little guy who was asking almost immediately to read something else. It could be that he is too young yet, but I think I'll let him return to Danny's Doodles on his own volition while I continue on my search for a chapter book to read together.