School buses, tough diner waitresses who maybe aren't so tough, racing cops, thugs, and more plunge in haphazard order, interspersed with Atticus' dry, doggy comments, until they arrive at the end of their trip, a united family once more, and are joined by a new dog.
This is the first book co-written by Gary Paulsen and his son, Jim. It's not the best of Paulsen's work, and there's definitely a lot of wish-fulfillment going on, what with the blindingly sunshiney ending, cops who go on races instead of handing out speeding tickets, etc. but it's a fun, light read. At only a little over 100 pages it will be easy for reluctant readers to pick this one up, and who doesn't love a dog story where the dog is not only alive in the end, he's joined by a new puppy? Some readers might be bothered by the chapters from Atticus' viewpoint, but I think they make nice breaks in between the endless stream of happy coincidences and tough-characters-with-hearts-of-gold. Some parents will probably be bothered by the casual attitude towards whatever Theo did to get in trouble with the police and they pick up a girl who's being sexually harassed, but there's nothing graphic.
Verdict: It's not deathless prose, but Paulsen has a lot of fans who will enjoy this and it's certainly easy to booktalk. I'd purchase it.
ISBN: 9780385741910; Published January 2013 by Wendy Lamb Books/Random House; Review copy provided by the publisher; Added to the library's collection.