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In Angela Woolfe's spectacularly funny debut novel, Avril Crump, the bumbling but lovable scientist embarks on a series of unexpected adventures with her newfound friends--who happen to be clones!
Avril Crump, female scientist, is bald, pink, and round, with a weakness for sweets, whose greatest love of all is chemistry, science, the quest for knowledge, and using that chemistry to fix the world's ills. But one day, while Avril is helping herself to a yummy snack, she accidentally stumbles upon a scientific experiment gone awry. When her uncle's old chemistry set collides with a mysterious metal trunk, three clones are created in the accidental explosion. And with this laboratory accident, Avril's adventure begins. She must save her new friends, the clones, from their own creator.
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Grade 4-6–The first in a set of three, this fantasy falls flat. Dr. Avril Crump, a plump, bald, and lonely scientist, accidentally sets in motion a long-abandoned experiment, resulting in the creation of three "clones." She and her new friends must flee for their lives from the nefarious Dr. Gideon Blut, the man responsible for the experiment, and his beautiful but deadly assistant, Dr. Sedukta. These clones, a talking dog, a little girl, and a freakishly tall man wearing a Napoleonic uniform and speaking pseudo-Elizabethan English, pop fully formed and clothed from a replication chamber containing assorted blobs of DNA. If readers can buy that, they will likely accept the whole messy plot of this action-packed but incoherent novel. There are some very funny bits (the song "My Name Is Mr. Dog" is a winner), but the science is so outrageously inconsistent, the plot twists so unlikely, and the characters so exaggerated that youngsters may wish for less wackiness and more substance. As a final quibble, the whimsical jacket drawing depicts the supposedly bald Dr. Crump as possessing a head of thin but gloriously wavy reddish-orange hair.–Eva Mitnick, Los Angeles Public Library
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Gr. 4-6. First-time writer Woolfe arrives with a bang--literally--as a chemical mishap instigated by scientist Dr. Avril Crump leads to the birth of three clones: tall, skinny, Bonaparte; a talking dog called Augustus; and a girl Dr. Crump names Edna, Eddy for short. The story and writing are amusingly over the top, as the balding, baby-face, sweets-loving Avril tries to keep her accidental creations hidden. Soon, however, she's captured by the nefarious Dr. Blut and his deadly assistant, Dr. Sedukata, and the clones, left to fend for themselves, are eventually abducted by a clone of Avril. Well, so it goes, slipping and sliding, twisting and turning the plot, and setting things up for the next two books in the trilogy. Underneath the highjinks, there are actually some scary moments and important philosophical questions about cloning. Dr. Blut is a eugenicist, who is interested in cloning so that he can get rid of the "non-viables of the world." The story is fast-paced and quirky, and the comic characters on the jacket will attract readers. Ilene Cooper
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