Jasper John Dooley: Not in Love
by Caroline Adderson
Kids Can Press
The Premise: Seven-year-old Jasper Dooley is the sort of boy who slays dragons during school recess. However, he and his best friend Ori aren’t above bribery. If the girls in their class pay them in candy or cookies from their lunches, Jasper and Ori will pretend to be their babies. But everything changes when Jasper realizes that Isabel is in love. With him. She’s savvy enough to go behind his back to arrange a playdate, forcing Jasper to go over to her house after school. Which is terrible … until Jasper sees the trampoline in her backyard.
Personal opinion: I thoroughly enjoyed watching Jasper work his way through this little-boy moral dilemma. He doesn’t want anything to do with Isabel, but playing at her house is fun. Temptation. Consequences. Jasper’s dad teases that if he spends enough time with Isabel, he’ll probably start to love her. And Ori is starting to feel very left out. Jasper is going to have to make a choice.
“I can’t get married to you,” Jasper said.
“I already promised to marry my mom.”
Rating: Adderson has a gift for getting inside a little boy’s head, and I kept turning pages just to see what he’d do next. It was fun to see one very determined girl turn Jasper’s whole world upside-down. I laughed and groaned, and I’ll cheerfully give Jasper John Dooley: Not in Love ten of ten stars (10★).
Notes: This is the third book starring this second-grader. I’m planning to hunt up Jasper John Dooley, Star of the Week (#1) and Jasper John Dooley, Left Behind (#2) to enjoy more of his misadventures. The books are illustrated by Ben Clanton.