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