road trip

Road Trip by Gary Paulsen and Jim Paulsen

This collaboration of father and son is about a road trip to rescue a border collie puppy.  Ben and his father have not been getting along lately.  His father just told Ben that he has quit his job and started to flip houses.  That means that Ben’s hockey camp that he had been promised may not happen this summer.  The road trip is a way for the two of them to spend time together along with their adult border collie, Atticus, and for his dad to avoid his ticked-off mother.  When Ben realizes what is happening, he invites along a friend that his dad doesn’t really approve of.  That friend will not be the last surprise passenger on the trip as they quickly trade their failing truck for a school bus.  Told in alternating chapters, Ben and Atticus explain the journey in their own unique points of view.

This is really a love story to dogs.  Atticus is a huge part of the story, his reactions to people foreshadow what sort of person they will turn out to be.  The use of his perspective is also cleverly done so that his actions are explained to the reader even though the other humans in the book may not fully understand them.  Happily, the various odd characters who join them on their journey are also well drawn and interesting.

The writing is clever and fresh in this slim volume of just over 100 pages.  It is a great pick for reluctant readers.  Appropriate for ages 9-12.

Reviewed from copy received from Random House Children’s Books.