Thursday, January 12, 2006
Code Orange by Caroline B. Cooney, 2005
Mitty is a high school goof-off. He is a poor student who is more plugged into his music than his schoolwork. He is only taking Advanced Biology because of he wants to be in the same class as the fair Olivia. He works just hard enough to get by which is why he has not started his research paper on infectious diseases. While looking through some very old medical books he discovers an envelope marked VM. Inside are two nasty, ancient scabs, which he examines and handles.
His research leads him to the meaning of VM...variola major or smallpox.
He cheerfully sets off to research smallpox for his report but as his knowledge of the disease grows so does the dawning horror that he has handled and inhaled the dust from the scabs. Is the virus still viable after all this time? Has Mitty contracted the disease and is he spreading it around his beloved New York City? Are his symptoms real or is he imagining things?
There are times when Cooney's discoursing on the disease begins to overwhelm the plot but my eyes kept racing ahead to find out what was going to happen next.
The threat of smallpox as a bioterrorism weapon is a part of the current dialogue so I found the evolution of the story very compelling. The book is a fast read and has an "eeeuww" factor, which should make it a success with teens.
I booktalked it to an 8th grader today and he grabbed the book out of my hands saying, "I've got to read this book."
Posted by Camille at 8:27 PM