Saturday, September 28, 2013

Book Review: The Contagious Colors of Mumpley Middle School by Fowler DeWitt

The Contagious Colors of Mumpley Middle School
Author: Fowler DeWitt
Publication: Atheneum Books for Young Readers (September 3, 2013)

Description: Something strange is happening to the sixth grade—and it’s up to student scientist Wilmer Dooley to crack the case in this fast-paced novel full of humor and mystery.
If there’s one important thing Wilmer Dooley’s dad always says, it’s this: “Where are my car keys?”

Okay, maybe not that. He also says: “Observe!”

Wilmer has always known that the greatest science comes from the keenest observations. So when he observes his classmates looking a little green…and orange...and chartreuse-fuchsia polka-dotted...he knows that it’s up to him to find the cause of this mysterious illness—and the cure.

But with his arch nemesis, Claudius Dill, hot on his heels; the eagle-eyed biology teacher, Mrs. Padgett, determined to thwart his plans; and a host of fluorescent classmates bouncing off the walls at increasingly dangerous speeds, can Wilmer prove he has what it takes to save the sixth grade from a colorful demise before it’s too late?

My Thoughts: From the entertaining journal entries that begin each chapter to the "exotic" recipes that Wilmer Dooley's mother feeds his family, this story is filled with humor. Wilmer is a sixth grader crushing on Roxie and determined to win the sixth grade science prize to make his inventor father proud of him. He spends his time observing his classmates and thus is the first to notice that something unusual is going on with his classmates. 

Wilmer observes that his fellow students are becoming more hyperactive and are turning some very interesting colors. Roxie is turning hot pink! Wilmer is also doing a research project on diseases in the Middle Ages and learning about the Black Plague. He is starting to wonder if some new plague is happening. It seems like the kind of project that could win the science fair.

Wilmer has some rivals though. His prime rival is Claudius Dill who also really wants to win the science fair but his technique is to suck up to the head judge who also happens to be biology teacher Mrs. Padgett who has taken a dislike to Wilmer. Claudius wants to be an evil genius and make lots of money. He is trying to get the attention of his father who is busy being the World's Most Famous Doctor and who is always traveling to conferences around the world.

Wilmer is a likable kid who seems like a realistic sixth grader. All of the adult characters in the book are caricatures though. From the absent-minded father to the ineffectual principal to the teacher with a vendetta toward Wilmer to Claudius's father who can't seem to remember his name, none of the adults are particularly admirable. 

I thought the story was amusing and entertaining and could be popular with my middle graders.

Favorite Quote:
My plans to win Roxie's affections with poetry came to an abrupt end when I couldn't find a rhyme for "lower intestine."
I received this book for review from a publicist at Big Honcho Media. You can buy your copy here

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