A Couple of Boys Have the Best Week Ever

( 15 )

Overview

When James and Eamon go to a week of Nature Camp and stay at Eamon's grandparents' house, it turns out that their free time spent staying inside, eating waffles, and playing video games is way more interesting than nature. But sometimes things work out best when they don't go exactly as planned.  

This Caldecott Honor-winning book is a moving and hilarious celebration of young boys, childhood friendships, and ...

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Overview

When James and Eamon go to a week of Nature Camp and stay at Eamon's grandparents' house, it turns out that their free time spent staying inside, eating waffles, and playing video games is way more interesting than nature. But sometimes things work out best when they don't go exactly as planned.  

This Caldecott Honor-winning book is a moving and hilarious celebration of young boys, childhood friendships, and the power of the imagination, where Marla Frazee captures the very essence of summer vacation and what it means to be a kid.

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Editorial Reviews

The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
* “Summer can seem a long time away during the colder portions of the year, and summer books can hold a special promise and poignancy in the long run-up until the months of freedom. Truly stellar summer books, such as Lynne Rae Perkins’ Pictures from Our Vacation can evoke the weirdness and unexpected magic of summer’s free-form experiences even in the darkest season. Add in some snarky and boisterous grade-school humor, and you’ve got A Couple of Boys Have the Best Week Ever. . . . This sweetly captures the pleasures of youthful time-wasting in the company of your best friend with a keen understanding that those pleasures are best when they’re unsentimental. The result is just realistic enough to be perfect, a grade-schooler’s idyllic summer with limited demands for learning and bettering and a whole lot of reveling in kid priorities. A wonderful late-winter reminder that summer is coming, this will cheer up audiences by encouraging them to reflect on glorious summers past and even more glorious summers to anticipate.” (starred review)
Elizabeth Ward
I can't think of another picture book since Peter Spiers's 1978 classic, Bored—Nothing to Do!, that gets inside small boys' heads more convincingly.
—The Washington Post
Publishers Weekly

Frazee (Roller Coaster) salutes grandparents and slyly notes children's diversions in this breezy tale of "the best week ever." After Eamon enrolls in nature camp, he spends nights with his grandparents, Bill and Pam, at their beach cottage. Eamon's friend James joins the sleepover, and although the text describes James as "very sad" when his mother drives away, a cartoon shows him exuberantly waving "Bye!" Humorous contradictions arise between the hand-lettered account ("Bill handed them each a pair of binoculars and a list of birds to look for. On the way home, the boys reported their findings") and voice-bubble exchanges between the boys (Eamon, training the lenses on James: "His freckles are huge." James: "Yeah, and his tongue is gross"). Bill tries to interest the boys in a museum exhibit on penguins; the inseparable friends ("To save time, Bill began calling them Jamon") show no enthusiasm yet energetically build "penguins" from mussel shells. Frazee's narrative resembles a tongue-in-cheek travel journal, with plenty of enticing pencil and gouache illustrations of the characters knocking about the shoreline. Like The Hello Goodbye Window, Frazee's story celebrates casual extended-family affection, with a knowing wink at the friends' dismissal of their elders' best-laid plans. Ages 6-9. (Mar.)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Children's Literature - Sylvia Firth
According to information on the book's cover flap, this story is based on real people and events. Two friends, Eamon and James, are going to spend a week of their summer vacation at a nature day camp. The boys will spend the week with Eamon's grandparents, Bill and Pam, who live at the beach. Bill dearly wants to visit Antarctica and see the penguins. He tries, without much success, to interest the boys in paying a visit to the local museum which is featuring a penguin exhibit. As the days pass, the boys become inseparable and Bill gives them a new name... Jamon. At every turn, they resist any suggestion for a visit to the Natural History Museum. But a wonderful surprise awaits Bill and Pam on the morning after the last day of camp. The boys have created "Antarctica" for Bill and Pam from the rocks, driftwood and shells they gathered from the beach. The brightly-colored gouache illustrations are cartoonlike and excellently match for the text. They successfully bring out the great humor of the adventure. Kids are sure to relate to Eamon and James and to the boys' relationship with the grandparents. Put this volume on the priority list, as it is sure to be very popular. Reviewer: Sylvia Firth
School Library Journal

PreS-K- James and Eamon spend a week at Eamon's grandparents' beach house. The boys go to nature camp during the day and delight Bill and Pam (the grandparents) at night with their antics. Bill makes an earnest attempt to interest the young boys in his own hobby-studying Antarctica and penguins. He wears a penguin shirt and brings out maps and globes, but it appears that James and Eamon are not listening. Frazee brings out the typical energy of a couple of boys who may scoff at nature and seem to prefer watching TV, but it is through her artful illustrations that readers catch glimpses of just how savvy and creative these kids can be. The youngsters' circular cartoon faces are distinguishable only because of their small tufts of hair-one curly, the other straight. Endpapers depict a humorous variety of drawn photos that could have been taken during the week. A penguin craft is explained on the final end flap. This intergenerational story will elicit howls of laughter and requests for repeated readings.-Blair Christolon, Prince William Public Library System, Manassas, VA

Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
James and Eamon spend a week with Bill and Pam, Eamon's grandparents, while they take in a week of nature camp-a week that turns out to be "the best week ever." A deadpan text narrates the events of the week, from the obligatory nature hikes and sleeping on an inflatable mattress downstairs to Bill's well-meaning attempts to engage them in wildlife study and Pam's great cooking. Frazee's hilarious round-headed cartoons romp across the page in snort-inducing counterpoint, abetted by the occasional speech balloon ("I think it should be called Sit-Around-Camp."). What emerges is a complete portrait of two thoroughly modern boys who watch TV, get messy, resist both nature and self-improvement-and still get won over by the spell of the great outdoors. The genius here is not that the boys finally get outside in the end; it's that their joy in being together is celebrated equally whether they're annihilating each other in a video game or building a replica of Antarctica on Bill and Pam's dock. As respectful of kid sensibilities and priorities as it's possible for an adult to achieve. (Picture book. 5-8)
School Library Journal
K-Gr 3—Light-hearted music sprinkled with hints of campfire songs opens Marla Frazee's humorous Caldecott Honor book (Harcourt, 2008) about two boys and their summer vacation experience. Narrators Fred Berman, Teddy Walsh, and Jasper Newell bring the characters to life as young Eamon is joined at his grandparents' beach house by his pal James. The boys embark on a week of "nature camp." Based on real people and events, the story is punctuated by comical contradictions where Frazee's wonderful pencil-and-gouache cartoon illustrations and text clearly represent opposing points of view. For example, James "arrives with just a couple of his belongings," while the illustration shows a boy surrounded by a multitude of boxes, toys, and luggage. As Eamon and James become more and more attached to each other, they are given the moniker "Jamon." Despite Grandpa Bill's repeated attempts at luring the boys to nearby penguin exhibits and outdoor adventures, they prefer to enjoy nature and visit the beach by gazing at the waves from an upstairs window. The narrator does an excellent job of punctuating Frazee's alliterative phrases ("Pam said she preferred people over penguins" and "people hugs over penguin huddles"), and the young male narrators wonderfully reflect the mood of the closing scene as James and Eamon excitedly show the grandparents their Antarctica creation. The book ends with simple directions on how to make a mussel shell penguin. A realistic intergenerational tale and a fun take on what it means to be a kid during summer vacation.—Cathie Bashaw Morton, Millbrook Central School District, NY
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780152060206
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • Publication date: 3/1/2008
  • Pages: 40
  • Sales rank: 184,369
  • Age range: 6 - 9 Years
  • Product dimensions: 8.10 (w) x 10.10 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Marla Frazee

MARLA FRAZEE has illustrated many picture books, including Everywhere Babies by Susan Meyers and Harriet, You'll Drive Me Wild! by Mem Fox, as well as her own Walk On! and Santa Claus the World's Number One Toy Expert. She lives in Pasadena, California.
 
 

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 15 )
Rating Distribution

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Sort by: Showing all of 15 Customer Reviews
  • Posted May 30, 2009

    Very entertaining

    It's the kind of book that gets kids' attention... It's very funny & entertaining... not so educational though...

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  • Posted May 1, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    A Couple of Boys

    Frazee, M. (2008). A Couple of Boys Have the Best Week Ever. New York: Harcourt, Inc.



    9780152060206



    During the summer, two boys (James and Eamon) spend the week with Eamon's grandparents while attending an outdoor day camp. While the boys are reluctant to enjoy some of the nature activities, they eventually find the perfect activity for them.



    This book was one of the Caldecott honor books for 2008. For me, the reason that this honor is deserved is because of the disconnect between the text and the illustrations which creates most of the irony and humor in the story.



    A Couple of Boys Have the Best Week Ever captures a sense of childhood (and particularly boyhood) well.



    While the book could be used as a class read aloud, it'd probably be more effective as a small group or individual read aloud, so a teacher could take time with the book and point out the points where the text and illustrations are contrasted.





    Activities to do with the book:



    As a teacher, I would probably share this book with small groups of students before or after summer breaks and draw attention to the disagreement between the text and the illustrations and urge them to create their own stories and illustrations in response.



    A teacher could encourage students to consider and narrate and illustrate some of their own best weeks ever.



    Also since the book incorporates dialogue bubbles, a teacher could narrate the majority of the story, but have the students read the dialogue between the two boys.





    Favorite Quotes:



    "One hot summer day, James went on a long drive to Bill and Pam's house so he could go to a week of nature camp with his friend Eamon."



    "As the nature camp week went by, James and Eamon practically became one person. They did everything together in exactly the same way. To save time, Bill began calling them Jamon."



    "Then at last, James and Eamon finally got real busy with something.and it turned out to be the very best part of the best week ever."


    For more of my reviews, visit sjkessel.blogspot.com.

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  • Posted April 28, 2009

    Very Cute

    My two boys enjoyed this book very much. They have a good time going over the illustrations of the characters in the book. They have a little trouble following the story bubbles but that was about it, but again they are only 5 & 7 years old. It was a very enjoyable book.

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