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Friday, March 11, 2016

Weekends with Max and his Dad, written by Linda Urban. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Raincoast. 2016. $23.99 ages 7 and up

"The sneaky-spy porcupine-rescue plan did not seem as practical by day as it had when Max was falling asleep, but by the time he and Dad and Warren had arrived at Ace's Coffee Shop, Max was no longer thinking about porcupines anyway. Max was thinking about breakfast. "I'll have the County's Best Bacon and Pineapple Pancakes," said Max.

What a great start to a new series by the talented and thoughtful Linda Urban! Max's parents are recently divorced. Max is spending weekends with his dad. He is not entirely happy with the new situation; he and his dad are trying to make the best of it.

When asked about the new apartment, Max does his best to be appreciative:

"It is very clean," said Max. He thought that sounded nicer that saying it was very white. The kitchen had a white counter and white tile floor and a white breakfast bar between it and the living room. The living room was white, too, except for a black TV and an orange armchair Max recognized from Grandma's house. The rest of the room was empty."

Dad hasn't yet unpacked and still needs furniture. Max's bedroom is set up and welcoming for the most part. It will take some time to get used to this new situation. In the meantime, he and his dad share a spy escapade, much to Max's delight. That's only the first weekend. On subsequent visits, Max learns more about his father's new neighborhood, helps his dad continue to furnish his new living space, and organizes an 'open mike' night to showcase his father's talents.

Realistic and humorous, readers looking for a new series of early chapter books as well as those dealing with a similar situation between parents are sure to enjoy this lively romp. Adjusting to his new circumstance is not always easy; but the adventurous weekends with his dad prove upbeat and hopeful. The realization for Max that he can enjoy both places as 'home' is a perfect way to end the first in a proposed set of three books. 

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