Illustrated by Ben Clanton
For ages 7 to 9
Kids Can Press, 2012, 978-1-55453-578-1
Jasper John Dooley is so excited he can hardly stand it. Starting tomorrow, he is going to be the Star of the Week in his classroom. All week long he will wear the coveted star pinned to his chest, and on each day he will make a presentation or share something with his classmates.
On Monday, Jasper arrives at school on time (for a change) carrying his Show and Tell item. He is all primed to tell the class about his lint collection, when his best friend Ori announces that he has a new baby sister. Suddenly (and most unfairly) Ori is the center of attention instead of Jasper. It takes a while for Jasper to get things back on track. Unfortunately, Jasper’s Show and Tell presentation does not go well. When he shows his classmates his lint collection, Jasper is very surprised to discover that they do not think his collection is at all interesting. In fact, they think his is strange for having it.
The next day, Jasper has to present his family tree to the class. Ori’s family tree is full of people, and of course now the new baby has been added to it. How on earth is Jasper going to compete with a bountiful family tree like that?
Jasper decides to make a real tree. Actually, it is more of a stick, but it is different at least. Jasper decorates the Family Stick with leaves representing himself, his mother, and his father. Then he adds one more leaf, a purple one, to make the Family Stick look more interesting.
In class on Tuesday, Jasper’s Family Stick is well received. Then one of the kids asks about the purple leaf, and before Jasper can stop himself, he tells everyone that the leaf represents his brother Earl. The problem is that Jasper doesn’t have a brother, and he has no idea how he is going to undo the damage he has done.
Many children have little ways that are uniquely theirs. They collect strange things, or play odd games, or have an interesting approach to life. The main character in this delightful book is decidedly quirky, and we love him for it. Whenever he gets himself into a tight spot, he finds a way to fix things, often in ways that are rather peculiar. As a result, he is funny and unpredictable. The good news is that Jasper John Dooley hasn’t finished with us yet. He will be back with more adventures, hopefully sooner rather than later.