This humorous slice-of-life book by Katy Kelly is published by Delacorte Press Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Random House Children's Books and is written for kids ages 8 to 12. The age range reflects readability and not necessarily content appropriateness.
Whether he's getting his foot stuck in a tree after climbing on rooftops or trying to track down a snake he's lost in his house, 10-year-old Adam "Melonhead" Melon never has to look far to find trouble. Along with his friend Sam, Adam tries repeatedly to develop an invention (actually, a "reinvention" — because it must be made of recycled materials) for the school science contest. Adam's and Sam's parents, neighbors Pop and Madam, the science teacher and other adults patiently nurture and encourage the boys. Ultimately, the rescue kit they create wins the science contest and earns them a trip to the semifinals.
Adam's mom is a worrier and frequently on edge, partly because of her daredevil son's activities. She dislikes how his dad has attended a conference on Sunday because she believes Sunday should be a family day. Dad works for a congressman, so he often stays at the office late and tells the family he needs to focus on the big picture. He does show up when he's needed to help Adam out of a crisis. Pop and Madam are Adam's neighbors: The neighborhood kids like to hang out with them, and Pop has given Adam permission to climb on his roof anytime. Mr. Santalices, the science teacher, uses humor as he inspires and encourages his students to work on their science projects.
Other Belief Systems
Adam says his classmates with good ideas are lucky, and he thanks his lucky stars for Pop. Another of Adam's friends says he's going to a baby sitter's wedding at Temple Sinai.
Peeing, farting, poop and butts are mentioned several times by Adam and his friends. Adam's mom thinks talk like this is vulgar but Adam finds it hilarious. Adam and his friend talk about a kid who broke his arm and had a bone poke through his skin before it (the bone) flew across the playground. Adam is a little sad when Cobra (a garter snake) swallows a mouse whole.
If your children have read this book or someone has read it to them, consider these discussion topics:
- What dangerous things does Adam do?
What are some of the choices he makes that go against his parents' rules?
How do his parents handle these situations? Do they react appropriately?
Do they overreact?
Do they have reasons to be nervous and angry about his choices?
- Why does Adam do things like running on roofs and hiding a snake in his house?
Which of his actions are done out of rebellion, because he knows they are wrong?
Which are unintentionally wrong?
Which of his actions does he do before considering the consequences?
What have you done without thinking through the consequences?
What did you learn from this?
- Have you ever embarrassed someone with your actions, as Adam embarrassed his mom when he wrote the head lice story?
Have you ever embarrassed yourself, as Adam did when he became caught in a tree?
How did someone embarrass you? How did you respond?
- Have you ever had an idea for an invention (or a reinvention)?
What was your idea?
- Whom does Sam try to find to get help when Adam is trapped?
Why is it a good idea to find a grown-up when you really need help?
Why is it sometimes hard to tell a grown-up about something you've done wrong?
What could happen if you don't get help from someone older and wiser?
- When Sam's parents make him get rid of Cobra, where does Adam hide the snake?
His friend Jonique suggests that hiding a snake is the same as lying about having one, but Adam says it's OK for him to hide the snake from his parents because he's saving a life.
What is wrong with Adam's reasoning?
Why is hiding something from your parents wrong?
When Adam finally tells his parents the truth, what has Adam learned about lying?
What are some of the other situations in which Adam lies to — or at least, isn't completely truthful with — his mom and dad?
What happens because of his various lies?
What does the Bible say about lying?
What are some of the negative consequences of not telling the truth?
- What does the phrase "Necessity is the mother of invention" mean?
How does Adam and Sam's project relate to this saying?
Where did they get their ideas?
Do you think their reinvention would really work or be useful?
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