Here's a fact: My new friend Calvin Waffle is 100% Weird
Danny Cohen and Calvin Waffle are two very different kids. Danny likes playing baseball; Calvin enjoys strange experiments. Danny follows the rules at school; Calvin tries to drive his teacher crazy.
Danny and Calvin decide to team up for the big jelly bean experiment. Will it lead to trouble? Maybe. Will they have fun trying? You can count on it.
About the Author
David A. Adler, a former math teacher and editor, is the author of more than two hundred books for young readers including the Cam Jansen Mysteries, the entire Picture Book Biography series and Don't Talk To Me About the War. He lives in New York.
Read an Excerpt
Monday and the Jelly Beans
I am the subject of Calvin Waffle's experiment.
Last week at school he followed me everywhere. He didn't stay close, but he was there. Lurking. He made a list of everyone who walked up to me, everyone who spoke to me. He listed their names and how long we talked.
"What's with all the names and numbers?" I asked.
"I need them for my experiment," Calvin told me. "They're statistics, the backbone of science."
No, they're not, I thought. The backbones of science are test tubes and microscopes and jars of chemicals, stinky chemicals that make your hands turn colors.
I know what statistics are. They're the backbone of sports. I know baseball batting averages, football passing and rushing records, and basketball shooting percentages.
Here's a statistic: My new friend Calvin Waffle is 100% weird.
All last week he followed me and lurked. Now it's Monday. We're on our way to school and he has that list. It's in his shirt pocket. It's folded and sticking up a bit like a fancy handkerchief.
"Are you going to keep watching who talks to me?"
Calvin shakes his head way up and down. He's nodding, telling me he'll keep watching.
"Last week was the control," he says. "This week is the experiment."
I haven't known Calvin very long. The first time we talked was two weeks ago. It was after school. I was walking home when he called to me.
"Hey. You're in my class."
I turned and saw him walking toward me.
"I'm Calvin Waffle," he said.
I knew that. I was there when our teacher Mrs. Cakel introduced him to our class.
I told him my name. "I'm Danny Cohen."
Now we walk together to school and back. That's because he lives on my block. He moved here with his mom. I don't know about his father. I didn't ask. I never ask those kinds of questions. I'm not a nosy news reporter. I'm just a kid in the fourth grade. When I'm older, I'll be a cartoonist.
It's Monday. We're about to turn the corner to enter the school playground and Calvin stops. He pulls on my sleeve and says, "Come with me."
I follow him behind a big tree. Calvin takes a few large bags of jelly beans from his book bag. He fills my shirt pocket and my front and back pants pockets with beans.
"Thanks for the treats," I say.
"You can't eat any," Calvin tells me. "That would ruin it."
"Eating a few jelly beans would ruin what?"
"I can't tell you that," Calvin says and shakes his head. "If I told you, I would ruin the experiment."
"What can you tell me?"
"Life is a mystery."
So are you, Calvin Waffle.
I look down at my bulging shirt pocket. Two red beans and a yellow look up at me.
"I might not be able to control myself," I say. "Reds are my favorites. During class I might be tempted to dip into my pocket and take a snack."
"I'll know if any are missing," he says. He shows me the empty jelly bean bags and the number of the weight of the beans in the bag. "If they weigh less at the end of the day, I'll know you ate some."
"Or maybe," I say, "some fell out of my pockets."
I jump and a few beans fall out.
"Don't do that," Calvin says and picks up the jelly beans that fell. "You'll skew the experiment."
The bell rings. It's time to line up and go into school. Calvin puts the beans that fell back in my pocket. I hurry through the playground. Then I turn to tell Calvin not to worry, that I'll try not to skew anything, but he isn't there. I'm near the front of the line and he's all the way in the back. Lurking.
I walk into class and my teacher Mrs. Cakel says, "Daniel, you're leaking."
I look down. Jelly beans. I turn. Behind me is a trail of beans. I bend to get them and more fall from my pockets. One by one I pick them up and drop them in my book bag.
I'm near the door, grabbing a green bean when Calvin walks into the room. He gives me a handful of beans I had dropped. I put them in my book bag and go to my seat.
I look up at nice Mrs. Cakel.
That's a joke.
Mrs. Cakel is not nice at all.
Her name is pronounced like cake with an added L at the end, but she's no sweet dessert. She's tough. On the side of the room, near where I sit, is a big NO sign. The NO is about a foot high and next to it are line after line of things you're not allowed to do in her class.
That NO sign is a challenge to Calvin. I bet every morning he thinks of how many of the NOs he can do without getting caught. Calvin and Mrs. Cakel are not a good match. They're like an onion and ice cream. In case you're wondering, Cakel is the onion.
Their problems started on Calvin's very first day in class. He was standing near her desk and waiting to be seated. He looked at the NO sign and said, "It's lucky she allows breathing."
"What?" Mrs. Cakel asked. "Did you say something?"
Calvin put his feet together like he was a soldier. He looked straight ahead and said, "No, ma'am. I didn't say anything."
"Yes, you did but you mumbled." Mrs. Cakel pointed to the sign. "That's rule number two. No mumbling. And there's no talking here without my permission. That's rule number one. Do you understand?"
Calvin shook his head way up and down. He was nodding, telling her he understood the "No Talking" rule.
Calvin stood there with his feet together.
"Are you chewing gum?"
His head went way up and way down. He was nodding.
"That's rule number six. No gum chewing."
Mrs. Cakel held the garbage pail under his chin and he dropped the gum in.
"Study that," she said and pointed to the NO sign.
She showed him to his desk. He sits in the back of the room. I sit near the front.
What else has Calvin done?
He made an origami bird from a homework assignment. He used a red crayon to answer the questions on a history test. He took off his sneakers and counted his toes during a math lesson.
I bet if Aladdin appeared in Cakel's class and said, "You have three wishes," her first wish would be, "Get that Waffle out of my class!"
Calvin usually sits with me during lunch, but not today. He's a few tables away. That's because of the jelly beans. He's watching me and taking notes.
Later, on the way home from school, I ask him about the experiment.
"I'm still gathering data," he answers.
"I know about statistics," I say. "They're the backbone of science."
"Yes, they are," Calvin says.
We stop by the front walk of his house and he has me empty my pockets. He puts the jelly beans back in their bags.
"I'll need them tomorrow," Calvin says.
He closes the tops of the bags with plastic ties.
"Only four more days," Calvin tells me, "and the experiment will be done. Then I'll tell you the results."
I say goodbye to Calvin and go home. I get in and go straight to the kitchen. I put my school things on the table and prepare a snack. Juice and jelly beans, the ones in my book bag. Calvin forgot about them.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I read this to my kids and they really enjoyed it even though they are younger than the intended age range. Danny is a really nice boy that can't make head nor tails of his new, weird friend who's father may or may not be a spy. Danny goes along with Calvin's strange experiments and is nice to him even when everyone else gives him sideways glances. He also makes an effort on Calvin's behalf by inviting some kids to Calvin's party and by inviting him to the big baseball game. Danny is a good example of kindness and acceptance. He makes an effort to look past Calvin's oddness and see the good in him. I like this book for several reasons. It is easy to read and comprehend. It deals with a boy that could easily become the target of bullying, but instead shows a wonderful example of how that can be avoided. The moral is a nice side effect of the story. The story focuses on the jelly bean experiment and the friendship between Danny, Calvin, and a couple other kids. The moral of kindness is just a natural byproduct of the story. The copy that I have is unfinished, so the illustrations are few in number and most aren't the final artwork. But there are enough spot illustrations scattered throughout the book to keep a child interested in the story through to the end. This book is targeted at kids ages 7-10.
Our teacher is reading it to us. Everyone loves it!!!