Family Ties

Family Ties

5.0 2
by Gary Paulsen
     
 

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Family fun takes center stage in three-time Newbery Honor winner Gary Paulsen’s hilarious novel for middle-school boys. Kevin Spencer is the glue that holds his family together. When his wacky relatives decide to have a double wedding in the backyard, Kevin takes charge. Planning two weddings is a great way to impress his girlfriend, Tina Zabinski, the Most

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Overview

Family fun takes center stage in three-time Newbery Honor winner Gary Paulsen’s hilarious novel for middle-school boys. Kevin Spencer is the glue that holds his family together. When his wacky relatives decide to have a double wedding in the backyard, Kevin takes charge. Planning two weddings is a great way to impress his girlfriend, Tina Zabinski, the Most Beautiful and Best-Smelling Girl in the World. 
   But as more and more relatives come to stay, things spiral out of control. Tying the knot has Kevin tied up in knots in this laugh-out-loud story.
   “When it comes to telling funny stories about boys, no one surpasses Paulsen.”—Booklist
   “[Paulsen is] one of the best-loved writers alive.”—The New York Times

Praise for Family Ties
“Kevin seems to truly have his heart in the right place as he tries to bring order to the disparate parts [of his family] and restore some missing familial affection.”—Kirkus Reviews
 
“The Spencers may not be a conventionally perfect family, but by the end of the novel it is clear that, despite their oddball antics, they are a loving one. Fans of the series and new readers will enjoy this offering.”—School Library Journal

“[A] goofy, rollicking ride.”—The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books

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Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Claudia Mills
Paulsen’s ridiculously over-confident and under-competent hero Kevin Spencer (Liar, Liar; Flat Broke; Crush, Vote) is now ready uphold his claim that he is “the greatest family member you’ll ever meet.” He is “the glue that holds the Spencers together,” “easily the most popular member of my family,” “the sun to [his friends’] planets,” and “the cherry on top of the Spencer family sundae.” When he marries his “girlfriend,” Tina, someday, he will doubtless be the cherry on top of that family sundae, too. But first he has to have a Perfect Official First Date with Tina. Plus engineer a reunion between his father and estranged Uncle Will; plan a sudden wedding for Uncle Will and his girlfriend, Brandee; convince Aunt Buzz to make it a double wedding by tying the knot with her boyfriend, Jack; and find roles in the wedding for a houseful of outlandishly eccentric relatives who keep showing up, including Brandee’s son Sparky, who is “going through that phase all young boys do where he’s very curious about fire.” The wedding plans escalate in hilarious preposterousness perfectly matched by Kevin’s laugh-out-loud grandiloquent narration: “It’s hard to be me; good thing I’m doing it and not anyone else.” Few can do madcap middle-grade fiction better than Gary Paulsen is doing it here. Reviewer: Claudia Mills, Ph.D.; Ages 8 to 12.
Kirkus Reviews
2014-05-14
Kevin, 14 and no stranger to hyperbole, is back for a fifth humor-infused outing as he tries valiantly to deal with his often bizarre extended family (Vote, 2013, etc.).Uncle Will shows up unexpectedly with a new bride and a young stepson who's apparently infamous for starting fires, bringing along a huge, incontinent dog for good measure. The group settles in to stay when Kevin suggests they should have a better ceremony than their justice-of-the-peace wedding the following weekend—and he'll manage the planning. Next to arrive is dour grandmother Lucille, a clean freak, followed by Papa, Kevin's grandfather (and Lucille's ex-husband), and his ex-showgirl girlfriend. As the week progresses, a few more motley friends descend, guaranteeing chaos on the homefront as Kevin deals with the love of his young life, Tina, at school, along with a family-related project that consumes any remaining time and involves carrying around a fake baby (made of popcorn) named Dumpster Assassin. In a departure from his other misadventures, this time Kevin seems to truly have his heart in the right place as he tries to bring order to the disparate parts and restore some missing familial affection. Paulsen never skips an opportunity for a laugh, but the tale's truth is evident, too, as readers will readily identify with the cast of strange characters. Another funny episode in a well-meaning (sort of, anyway) kid's life. (Fiction. 10-14)
School Library Journal
05/01/2014
Gr 5–8—Middle schooler and self-described "family man" Kevin Spencer returns in another humorous tale. This time, he schemes to bring his dysfunctional family closer together by reuniting his father with his father's recently estranged, irresponsible brother. But when Uncle Will arrives with his new wife; her five-year-old pyromaniac son; and their large, incontinent dog, Kevin suggests that the family host a backyard second wedding for the newlyweds for the following weekend. The ceremony soon involves two couples with the arrival of more of Kevin's wacky relatives, and the lead character is tasked with planning two weddings in less than one week. Paulsen crafts a distinct narrative voice for his quick-witted protagonist, who is funny, wry, and relatable, making this a good recommendation for reluctant readers. Despite the eccentricity of his family, Kevin takes his role as straight man in stride, eagerly welcoming his zany relatives into his home while offering plenty of deadpan commentary about them in his narration. While his adoration of his girlfriend Tina, albeit comical, sometimes comes off as a little too over-the-top, his budding friendship with ambitious classmate Katie is well developed as are the strengthening bonds among his family members. The Spencers may not be a conventionally perfect family, but by the end of the novel it is clear that, despite their oddball antics, they are a loving one. Fans of the series and new readers will enjoy this offering.—Laura J. Giunta, Garden City Public Library, NY

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780385373807
Publisher:
Random House Children's Books
Publication date:
07/22/2014
Pages:
144
Sales rank:
718,948
Product dimensions:
5.20(w) x 7.40(h) x 0.70(d)
Lexile:
840L (what's this?)
Age Range:
9 - 12 Years

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