CM . . .
. Volume XXII Number 40. . . .June 17, 2016
Jasper and his friend Ori want to read to Molly, the library’s lapdog; but, the line-up of kids waiting to do the same thing is so long that the boys have to go back another day for their turn. Because Molly isn’t at the library every day, Jasper comes up with the idea of reading books to his neighbours’ pets. So, he and Ori get library books they think pets would enjoy and tape a sign to a tree on Jasper’s front lawn advertising the idea. The owner of a dog that Jasper reads to drops some coins in an empty jam jar on their front-lawn stand. The boys hadn’t expected any payment for reading, and so Dad explains about earning tips. Later, Jasper and Dad are home alone when Jasper drops one of the library books into his bath. He pulls it out quickly, but he knows the librarian won’t be pleased. (Mom left a book out in the rain once, and the library made her pay to replace it.) As soon as Dad discovers what happened, he takes control. While Jasper gets into his pajamas, Dad puts the book in the oven to dry itoff. Jasper questions Dad’s method, but Dad is blasé, baking nachos beside the book. When the book goes up in flames, Dad takes the fire extinguisher to it and then throws it into the backyard. Jasper is in bed when Mom gets home. He hears her ask Dad what burned. All Dad says is, “We made nachos.” On the way to school the next day, Dad throws the wrecked book in the garbage can, telling Jasper the library will send them a bill for it someday. While Dad tells Jasper he’ll take care of it, Jasper doesn’t really understand what Dad means. In the meantime, Dad has agreed that he and Jasper are “Book Killers”, and Jasper has seen some numbers on the wrecked book that make him think it could cost $2,500 to replace it. He doesn’t have enough money, and he doesn’t think he can go back to the library until he’s paid for the book. So, he hopes – in vain – to earn more tips with every opportunity he gets to read. Luckily, when Ori figures out why his friend is upset, he’s able to set Jasper straight. After the boys retrieve the book from the garbage, Ori explains to Jasper what the little dot between 25 and the two zeros means. Jasper tries earning money by opening a toast restaurant on his front lawn. People come, but no one leaves any money. Finally, he tells Mom all about being a “Book Killer”. After a family conference, Dad and Jasper agree to go halvesies on paying for the book. Jasper comes up with the idea of having a “Read to Your Pet Fiesta Party Hoopla Celebration”. All of the kids in his class attend, and he manages to raise enough money to pay for his half of the wrecked book.
In Jasper John Dooley – Public Library Enemy #1, the sixth in Caroline Adderson’s series of beginner chapter books, Jasper John seems to be getting older. He has the same teacher – Ms. Tosh - that he’s always had, but he’s reading and writing like never before. At the beginning of the story, Jasper doesn’t want anything to do with the Cheeky the Squirrel books the girls in his class are crazy about. However, during his Hoopla Celebration, one of the girls buys a ticket, meaning that Jasper John must read aloud a chapter from a book of her choice. Forced to read a Cheeky book for the first time, Jasper discovers that it’s actually great.
Even though Jasper dropped his book into the bathtub, his problem really has more to do with Dad’s behaviour than his own. And while Dad’s remedy for dealing with a wet book is not credible to this reviewer, no doubt it would be to young readers. Dad’s desire to keep the book’s destruction a secret from Mom is an interesting – though necessary – plot development, likely appreciated mostly by adult readers. But, as always, Jasper’s imagination and ingenuity are wondrous as he works to resolve his perceived problem with the library. And Jasper John’s excellent library – with its innovative, lapdog programme and approachable librarian – should serve as a reminder to all readers to visit their own local library.
Additionally, all readers should appreciate Ori’s lesson about the importance of the decimal point.
Karen Rankin is a Toronto, ON, teacher and writer of children’s stories.
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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.
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.