Readers of this blog will note that I review lots of “dog” books, but I believe Road Trip is the first one that has a dog co-narrator. Atticus is a fifteen year old border collie, he pays attention to everything. The other narrator, fourteen year old, Ben, like many of us, does not.
On the first day of summer vacation, Ben’s father wakes him up at 5 A.M. and announces that they are going on a trip to rescue a border collie puppy. Ben’s dad is a spur of the moment kind of guy, so he isn’t too surprised by the idea, but not too happy with it either. Atticus, who is less than thrilled that they are going to get a dog, is going along, too. As they are getting ready to leave, Ben finds out that there may not be money to send him to hockey camp this summer. A camp that he had been planning on since he got his first pair of skates at age five. And the reason: his dad had quit his job and was going to flip houses for a living. Ben is mad. To show his displeasure, he calls his new friend, Theo, who his dad thinks is a hoodlum and invites him along. Atticus fills us in on all that Ben has missed these past few months. The boss (as Atticus calls Ben’s dad) has been working until late at night and on the weekends on the house he bought. It is finished and there is an offer on it. Ben didn’t notice his dad was always gone and always tired. Atticus did.
Theo is not the only one to join Ben and his dad on the trip to rescue the puppy. The truck breaks down and they pick up a school bus that comes with its own mechanic named Gus. And a waitress named, Mia, who is feed up with rowdy customers and quits her job after she saves Theo from a thug named Bobby. The five of them have a few exciting adventures on their trip and a big surprise when they arrive at the animal shelter.
Because this book is for children, everyone gets what they deserve. Gus steps in to help Mia and Theo get an education, Ben works with his dad over the summer and the thug, Bobby is arrested. Atticus discovers that the puppy isn’t a dog, but a border collie just like him.
Gary Paulsen, has written over a hundred books for kids. Three of them have won Newbery Honors. He co-wrote the book with his adult son, Jim Paulsen, who is a sculptor and a former elementary school teacher. It is tempting to think that some of their relationship is reflected in this story. I have absolutely no evidence, just an opinion.
The AR level is 4.3.