Caroline B. Cooney Code Orange 201 pp. Delacorte 9/05 ISBN 0-385-73259-7 $15.95 g Library edition ISBN 0-385-90277-8 $17.99 (Middle School, High School)
Manhattan-prep-school-student Mitty plans to be a rock concert reviewer; to that end, he has perfected the art of listening to his iPod while appearing attentive in class and has done absolutely nothing about his research paper on an infectious disease. The night before his biology project is due, Mitty stumbles across an old book with an envelope containing smallpox scabs tucked inside. From this point on the momentum builds as readers begin to suspect that Mitty might have been infected with smallpox ("The shelf life of some viruses is known; the shelf life of others is uncertain. In this case, it was the shelf life of Mitchell John Blake that was uncertain"). The lighthearted tone of the novel darkens when Mitty himself begins to worry. Then the FBI gets involved; Mitty is kidnapped by would-be bioterrorists; and the reader is set up for the thrilling climax (with a twist). The book is replete with detailed information about the gruesome effects of smallpox and the terrifying possibilities of bioterrorism. The contrast between the unambitious Mitty in the beginning and the resourceful teenager at novel's end is believably conveyed. In addition to the extremely likable Mitty, minor characters are given lots of personality and voice. An unusually engaging author's note separates fact from fiction and includes a bibliography.
g indicates that the book was read in galley or page proof. The publisher's price is the suggested retail price and does not indicate a possible discount to libraries. Grade levels are only suggestions; the individual child is the real criterion.