CYBILS REVIEW: Road Trip by Gary Paulsen and Jim Paulsen


Dad and Ben haven't been getting along recently and Dad hopes a road trip to rescue a border collie will help them reconnect. But Ben is on to Dad's plan and invites  Ben's thuggish buddy, Theo. The family dog, Atticus, comes along too and the story is told by Ben and Atticus. When their truck breaks down, they commandeer an old school bus, along with its mechanic, Gus. Next, they pick up Mia, a waitress escaping a tense situation. Only sharp-eyed Atticus realizes that Theo is on the run—and someone is following them.


I'm not entirely sure what to make of this book.  In some ways I really enjoyed it, the dog's commentary for example was quite amusing.  The relationships between the characters were interesting even though the sudden addition of some characters seemed a tad unbelievable.  

When Dad and Ben set off to pick up a rescued border collie pup, Ben assumes it will be anything but typical, after all his father is in charge.  But when he finds out that thanks to his father's new business, he won't be attending hockey camp like he'd planned on, he is furious and does everything he can to make the trip as awkward as possible. He starts by inviting his friend, Theo along. Switching to a school bus after their truck breaks down and the added company of the mechanic and a former waitress further confuses things, especially when it becomes apparent that Theo is hiding something and ready to bolt. Will they ever make it to the puppy or will disaster strike first?

Strengths:  The characterizations are spot on, each of the characters has an important part to play.  They each have their own ideas and problems.  The dog provides an amusing and insightful commentary on the human dynamics, sensing things that the people struggle to work through. Ben's father's antics were humorous as was Ben's reactions to them (mind and voice didn't always agree).  I enjoyed reading about the relationships that developed between the different characters and how problems were addressed.

Weaknesses:  The episodic nature of the story makes it feel not quite connected. And some of the events in the story are downright absurd. Probably won't bother most young readers though.


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