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Travels with My Family /hc

by Marie-Louise Gay & Fred Reed

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list price: $15.95
published: 2006
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Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels
7 to 10
2 to 5
Reading age:
7 to 10
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Family vacations are supposed to be something to look forward to. Unless, that is, your parents have a habit of turning every outing into a risky proposition -- by accident, of course. So instead of dream vacations to Disney World and motels with swimming pools, these parents are always looking for that out-of-the-way destination where other tourists don't go. Their adventures involve eating grasshoppers in Mexico, forgetting the tide schedule while collecting sand dollars off the coast of Georgia, and mistaking alligators for logs in the middle of Okefenokee Swamp.

Travels with My Family is told from the point of view of a long-suffering big brother who must fulfill many roles in this eccentric family: keep little brother out of trouble, humor artist Mom, and discourage Dad from pulling out the road map to search for yet another off-the-beaten-track destination.

Husband-and-wife team Marie-Louise Gay and David Homel and have combined their prodigious writing and illustrating talents with their own family memories to produce a very different travelogue.

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We had been hearing about Hurricane Bob on the radio all week long. After a while, I got pretty tired of it. How can you take a hurricane seriously when its name is Bob? No offense to people named Bob, but it's just not a very scary name. If I was in charge of naming hurricanes, I would call them Hurricane Hulk, or Demon, or Destroyer. Now that would scare people! We had rented a cottage right by the ocean. We were so close to the water that you could sit on the front porch and spit watermelon seeds into the Atlantic. Or almost. And there were blueberry bushes, too, with tiny fruit the size of a baby's fingernail. My brother and I picked the berries right off the bushes for breakfast. The other fun things you could eat were the sea urchins that lived in the water. They were brown, prickly animals with poisonous spines. You smashed them open with a hatchet, and there was an orange part inside that supposedly tasted really good, like the ocean. Or so my father said. I tried one, and that was enough. My brother pretended to throw up just looking at them. Our cat, Miro, loved Maine. It was a lot better than being in a boiling-hot car. He had never been to the sea before. Every evening, he went down to the pebbly beach to chase the little green crabs that lived there. When he caught one, or, should I say, when one caught him by pinching his nose, he wished he hadn't, because crabs never let go. But Miro never learned. He caught furry brown wood mice, too, and left them on the porch in front of the door. My mother would scream every time she stepped on one in her bare feet, first thing in the morning.

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Editorial Reviews

...sprinkled with humor, moments of discovery, and an appreciation for the beauty and diversity of less-lauded destinations....a good choice for those new to chapter books or for struggling readers.

— School Library Journal

Written in the voice of a kid humouring his parents and plentifully illustrated with gay's pen-and-ink drawings...this may make those who aren't going on exotic holidays glad they get to stay home.

— Toronto Star

...[Gay's] and Homel's prose is conversational without being lax, lively without sliding into farce, and gently sardonic rather than the hard-edged, smart-aleck tone so familiar in contemporary middle-reader fiction told in the first person....each chapter makes a perfect read-aloud, perhaps even for the back seat of a car. Within each mini-travelogue, there's enough humour and mild excitement to hold attention, and the prose is polished bright, clean, and supple so that it almost reads itself aloud. An added attraction are the many black-and-white drawings by Gay in her characteristic style: big-headed children with minimal features and a loveable gangliness of limb; lively evocations of weather and landscape with a few quick lines; and a sense of energy, curiosity, and delight in the world.

— Quill & Quire

...highly humorous chapter book...

— Resource Links

Geographic and scientific tidbits are cleverly embedded in each story, often within some funny-in-retrospect detail that is part of a funny, well described larger picture. Readers won't even notice they're learning something...Homel and Gay should collaborate more often.

— Books in Canada

...the prose is polished bright, clean, and supple so that it almost reads itself aloud.

— Quill & Quire

The family's episodic adventures, relayed by the older brother in a droll, first-person narrative, are often comical and sometimes suspenseful as they offer glimpses of natural wonders, extreme weather, and exotic locales.

— Booklist

If you want a new read aloud and great incentive to get kids sharing their family vacation stories, here's the book for you.

— Brandon Sun

...it has the ring of truth for anyone who has ever been forced to spend long hours in the back seat of a car.

— Los Angeles Times

These hilarious adventures sparkle...Marie-Louise Gay (with her co-writer and husband David Homel) gets the characters, their inner thoughts and outward dialogue, bang on.

— Globe and Mail

...an amusing look at family life on the road...this story will entertain young armchair travelers. Recommended.

— Library Media Connection
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Out of print

This edition is not currently available in bookstores. Check your local library or search for used copies at Abebooks.

About the Authors

Marie-Louise Gay

MARIE-LOUISE GAY has won awards, including the Governor General\s Award for her children\'s book illustrations.'
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Fred Reed

David Homel has translated over 30 books, many by Quebec authors. He won the Governor General's Literary Award in translation in 1995 for Why Must a Black Writer Write About Sex? by Dany Laferrière; his translation of Laferrière's How to Make Love to a Negro was nominated in 1988; and he won the prize in 2001 with fellow translator Fred A. Reed for Fairy Wing. His novels, which include Sonya & Jack, Electrical Storms, and The Speaking Cure have been published in several languages. Homel lives in Montreal, Quebec.
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