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Sunday, September 9, 2012

Summer in the City, by Marie-Louise Gay and David Homel. Groundwood, 2012. $15.95 ages 8 and up

"So I started this game where I invented secret identities for people. One day we skateboarded past a man pushing a stroller with a big bald baby screaming his head off. "Check out the Martian in the stroller." I whispered to Max. Max stopped and stared. Then he whizzed off, screaming, "The aliens are attacking! The aliens are attacking!" The man really liked that."

This is a family that spends their summers travelling. As the holidays loom nearer, no plans seem to be  in the works. Charlie is anticipating a trip to another out-of-the-way place where most families don't go; but, there is nothing to show that a trip is in the offing. When his parents make the announcement that this will not be their usual summer, due to a lack of funds and a heap of work, Charlie is not pleased. His neighborhood is pretty boring, and Charlie can't imagine that changing anytime soon.

Wanting to make the best of it, and having some control over what is going to happen, Charlie anticipates a summer job, or a solitary camping trip to be at one with the wildlife he might find outside the city.  The possibilities are endless....he's just not sure how to make them happen. He can't forget that his little brother Max must be part of his plan.

A poster for a lost cat inspires him. He will be a lost pet detective. People will be thrilled to have him on the case, and the rewards will be plentiful. It seems simple, but complications rear their ugly heads and the boys find that it is not as easy as it seems.

A camping trip may not be plausible with a young tagalong. But, there is the backyard and this is a 'stay-cation'. Putting up the old tent poses some difficulty, but, it will protect them from the elements. The adventure begins with all the events that camping conjures...scary stories, tag in the dark with flashlights, and noises in the night. An encounter between their cat and a visiting skunk has odoriferous results. Poor Miro!

One disaster leads to another in a series of stand-alone stories that will entertain readers and have them wondering what could possibly happen next. A flooded freeway, a ride of the wrong bus and an encounter with a group of bikers wearing Granddads on Wheels jackets, and a celebratory birthday for Charlie are all part of the summer adventures this time. Funny and thoughtful, with signature illustrations by the ever-lively Marie Louise Gay, this is a book that uses Montreal as its canvas and takes readers to places that will be familiar to those who grew up there, or anyone who has had the opportunity to spend time in this beautiful city.

If you haven't yet read Travels with My Family (2006) or On The Road Again (2008) be sure to borrow them from the library, or visit your favorite bookstore for your own personal copies. You will meet great characters, be a part of action-filled adventures and travel to places you may never get a chance to visit.

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