________________ CM . . . . Volume XIX Number 38. . . .May 31, 2013


Jasper John Dooley Left Behind.
(Jasper John Dooley, Book 2).

Caroline Anderson. Illustrated by Ben Clanton.
Toronto, ON: Kids Can Press, 2013.
130 pp., hardcover, $16.95.
ISBN 978-1-55453-579-8.

Preschool-grade 2 / Ages 4-7.

Review by Karen Rankin.

*** /4



[Jasper] needed to write something that was the opposite of Nan so he wouldn't think about how she was away for a whole week and wasn't even coming back for Go Fish on Wednesday. The opposite of Nan was all the things she didn't like. She really didn't like mice, or snakes, or loud noises, or wind messing up her hair. He couldn't think of anything to write about wind or loud noises. He'd already written three stories about Hammy, the little brown hamster in the cage at the back of the classroom. He decided to write about a snake.

His story was called "A Long, Long, Long Story by Jasper about a Snake." The snake in the story was six miles long. Jasper wrote in his biggest printing until the story was six pages. Then he put up his hand and asked to staple his pages together.

"Go ahead," Ms. Tosh said.

The stapler was one of Jasper's favorite things in the classroom, along with the cozy pillows in the Book Nook that you could hide under until somebody accidentally sat on you. And Hammy the hamster. Every Friday one of the kids got to take Hammy home for the weekend.

Jasper brought his story to Ms. Tosh's desk where there were even more things that he loved: the heart mug filled with spare pencils, the sticker shoebox, the electric pencil sharpener with a window that showed all the shavings inside.

Jasper piled his six pages on the desk. He took the stapler and ker-chunked one corner. Since the story was so long, six pages long, he ker-chunked the other corner, too. He put in four more staples along the side, just in case. Ker-chunk. Ker-chunk. Ker-chunk. Ker-chunk. Maybe a staple right in the middle would be good in case a big wind came up and blew through the classroom window and mixed the pages of everybody's stories together. Jasper gathered the pages off the desk and held them flat against his body. With the stapler open, he positioned it right in the middle of the pages and ker-chunked hard.


All the kids looked up from their writing. Ms. Tosh came running. "Jasper! What have you done?"

All the kids said, "Ms. Tosh! Jasper stapled his story to himself!"


When Jasper learns that his grandmother is going on a week-long Alaskan cruise without him, he worries about what will happen on Wednesday the evening he always spends with his Nan. Jasper loves riding the elevator at Nan's and playing dress-up and 'Go Fish' for jujubes. After waving Nan's ship off, his stomach feels a little pththth, "like when [his] beach ball leaked." Jasper wonders if he'll end up flat like the beach ball. When he accidentally staples his stomach, he figures he's got a total of three leaky holes. The school nurse applies a band-aid, but with every passing day, Jasper needs more band-aids to stop the pththth.' Jasper's dad shows him where Alaska is on a map. Jasper knows that Nan will be far away looking at icebergs. His friend Ori invites Jasper to build something at his house with wood left over from their renovation. Jasper tries to build a huge ship like the one Nan is on, but this is too difficult. In the end, he and Ori make an iceberg. On Wednesday, Jasper is pleasantly surprised by his new babysitter; she's not Nan, but she's not the monster he'd expected, and she's got a good imagination. On Friday, it's Jasper's turn to take the class hamster home for the weekend. Hammy surprises Jasper by escaping in the house and proves to be a good distraction until Nan finally returns.

internal art      Jasper John Dooley Left Behind, the second Jasper book, with the first being Jasper John Dooley: Star of the Week is a good read-aloud 'chapter book' for both parents and teachers of young children. Jasper endears himself to readers through his unique and inventive approach to life's tribulations. When Jasper and Ori are working on their construction project, Ori gets bossy and Jasper behaves insensitively. Both boys eventually realize the error of their ways and make up. Jasper's parents are simply but convincingly drawn.

     Jasper pretends to be a lonely iceberg at school. He also collects containers of fresh rain and fresh air to give to Nan when she returns so that she won't have missed it. Given the age of the listeners, these passages seemed to drag, although they may present good opportunities for discussion.

      Jasper doesn't want to think too much about his Nan since that could completely deflate him. Still, he imagines and talks about her so much that readers learn all about the special relationship the two have. It's a lovely reminder of how important grandparents can be in a child's life.



Karen Rankin is a Toronto, ON, teacher and writer of children's stories.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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