________________ CM . . . . Volume XXI Number 36. . . .May 22, 2015


Jasper John Dooley, You’re in Trouble. (Jasper John Dooley; 4)

Caroline Adderson. Illustrated by Ben Clanton.
Toronto, ON: Kids Can Press, 2015.
122 pp., hardcover, $16.95.
ISBN 978-1-55453-808-9.

Kindergarten-grade 3 / Ages 5-8.

Review by Karen Rankin.

**** /4



Before they got in the car, Jasper showed Dad the Torpedo High Energy Drink. He said, “Look what came out of the machine. I wanted apple juice.”

Dad wasn’t focusing, Jasper could tell. Usually Dad passed the key toggle to Jasper so he could unlock the car and make it beep. It was a nice beep, not an impatient beep like the drink machine had made. The beep of the car meant, “Hello! Where would you like to go?” The drink machine beep meant “Hurry! Hurry!”

Dad blinked at the red and black can in Jasper’s hand.

“Can I drink it?” Jasper asked.

“You’re thirsty aren’t you?”

Jasper took a small sip. Right away his mouth exploded in prickles. When he swallowed, the prickles went down, too. But the drink was sweet, and as soon as he took one sip, he wanted another. He paused to scratch his tongue.

“Don’t mention this to Mom, Jasper, okay?”

The can was halfway to his mouth again. “The drink?” he asked.

“No. Don’t say that I told you to go ahead and almost lost you. That other time? You were probably too young to notice, but she wouldn’t speak to me for a whole week.”

He opened the car door for Jasper. When he turned to get in the car himself, Jasper saw the Bad drink stain on the back of Dad’s jacket.

“Okay, Jasper John? We won’t say anything, right?”

“Right,” Jasper said just before he took a second sip.

This time it was a bigger sip. He had to shake his head around like he was doing the Hokey Pokey. He felt dizzy getting into the car. With the can between his knees, he fastened his seatbelt – fast. Without a seatbelt, he might blast right through the roof.

After that, for the whole drive home, Dad talked about soccer. He said, “Coach Ben thinks you’re afraid of the ball. Are you afraid of the ball, Jasper?”

“Why would I be afraid of the ball?” Jasper asked, taking another tiny sip of the Torpedo High Energy Drink, then clenching his jaws so his head wouldn’t blow off.


Jasper’s troubles start with the forbidden high-energy drink he accidentally bought from a vending machine after soccer practice. When he and Dad get home, Jasper hides the unfinished drink at the back of the fridge where he hopes Mom won’t notice it. After just five sips, he can’t even sit still for dinner. When he rides his bike in the alley to burn off some energy, he makes a black, smoky-smelling skid mark. His friend, Ori, is not impressed. Things only get worse. Jasper makes tidal waves in his bath and ‘beeps’ all night. At breakfast the next day, he sneaks another four sips of the Bad drink. That helps him to eat breakfast and get dressed – fast! But, he intentionally wears underpants with the wrong day of the week on them. At school, he can’t focus on work and can’t stop running at recess. Again, Ori is not impressed. A few sips of the high-energy drink seem to help Jasper play soccer better, but Coach doesn’t realize that’s because Jasper, pretending to be a stinging bee, is actually tickling the other players. The Bad drink makes Jasper want to do bad things. When Jasper tells his grandmother about all the bad things he’s done, she reminds him that he’s always been her “best boy”. Jasper decides to stop drinking the Bad drink. But every time he opens the fridge, even to pour it out, he can’t help taking a few more sips. When Mom finally discovers the Bad drink, Dad chugs what’s left of it. Then, while Mom’s out, Jasper and Dad have Bad fun, jumping around the living room together – until things get out of hand. After a trip to the hospital and some stitches for Jasper, he knows to stay clear of Bad drinks.

     Jasper John Dooley, You’re in Trouble is the fourth in a series of well-crafted read-aloud chapter books for children in kindergarten to grade two. Jasper John’s exact age and grade are not mentioned, so You’re in Trouble will also be appreciated by older children starting to read chapter books on their own. Once again, Caroline Adderson deftly shows the unique thinking of a resourceful and imaginative little boy. For instance, Coach thinks that Jasper is afraid of the soccer ball, but Jasper is thinking more about how the yellow and black stripes on his soccer uniform make him look like a bumble bee. And, of course, a bee can’t resist gathering pollen found beside the soccer field. Jasper’s constant best friend Ori is credibly sketched. After Jasper tells Ori about the Bad drink, Ori says Jasper should pour it out and try eating something good. When this plan doesn’t work, Ori tries to keep Jasper out of trouble at school. Mom and Dad are always believably loving, but imperfect. For instance, Jasper is able to hide his high-energy drink because

Any time there were leftovers, Jasper’s mom put them in an empty yogurt container. When the fridge was full of yogurt containers, she started taking them out again and checking for food with green fur. Green fur meant the food got thrown out. Any food that wasn’t furry went back into the fridge until it was.

     While this reviewer found it a little disconcerting to read a story about Jasper John having – albeit briefly – an addiction, You’re in Trouble provides lots of opportunity for valuable discussion. Furthermore, readers of all ages will be entertained and amused by Jasper John’s behaviour at school when he is forced to deal with the outcome of his Bad, energy-drink-inspired actions.

Highly Recommended.

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.

Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.
Published by
The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364
Hosted by the University of Manitoba.

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