From the Publisher
"Summer in the City works as an easy transition for kids making the step up from picture books."—Quill and Quire
"…this volume is made even livelier and more enjoyable by the numerous pen-and-ink/watercolour illustrations that have made Marie-Louise Gay such a recognized name in Canadian children's literature."—Montreal Gazette
"An upbeat summer idyll likely to draw chuckles whether read alone or aloud."—Kirkus
"Was this supposed to be a change? No way. We lived here every day of the year. I knew every detail by heart . . . A vacation means going, not staying."
from the book
Children's Literature - Krisan Murphy
When Charlie's parents announce that work is slow and the usual high-adventure summer vacation will now be a "stay-cation" at home in the city, Charlie gets busy looking for a way to make money. If it weren't for his little brother, Max, who overfeeds the fish, gets lost, and generally causes catastrophe wherever he roams, business would be more profitable. But what's a big brother to do? In the long summer days, Charlie rescues a cat, survives a flood, gets locked in a bakery truck, is confounded by triplet dogs, and makes a friend. By the end of the summer, Charlie learns the unexpected benefit of helping others. A strong element in this book is that the protagonist solves his own problems, like when his brother kills "Jaws," the pet fish they watch for a friend. Charlie realizes that his mom won't solve the problem for him, so he creatively finds a pet replacement that satisfies the owner, even though it reduces his business profit to zero. Students will laugh, love, and look forward to more adventures of Charlie and his little brother, Max. Reviewer: Krisan Murphy
After previous family vacations highlighted by encounters with alligators, revolutionaries and natural disasters (see Travels With My Family, 2006, for details) a "stay-cation" at home in Montreal sounds a trifle boring to Charlie. Not so, as it turns out--though most of the misadventures are a bit less hair-raising than before. True, a major storm does strand Charlie and his father in a stretch of sunken highway, and later on, he and his troublesome little brother Max take the wrong bus on a trip to the country. Still, most of the experiences during his post–sixth-grade summer run along the lines of agreeing to babysit a neighbor's goldfish (with the inevitable result), discovering the perils of walking several dogs at once and sharing a backyard campsite with a skunk. It's all agreeably capped by a surprise multigenerational birthday party in the nearby alley. Charlie relates his experiences in a bemused, almost self-deprecatory tone, and Gay's frequent fine-lined, loosely drawn illustrations mark all the high and low spots. An upbeat summer idyll likely to draw chuckles whether read alone or aloud. (Fiction. 10-12)
School Library Journal
Gr 3–5—In this sequel to Travels with My Family (2006) and On the Road Again (2008, both Groundwood), Charlie and Max won't be taking any exotic trips this year. Or so they think. When their parents announce that they will have a "stay-cation" in their hometown of Montreal, Charlie is disappointed. As it turns out, though, he has lots of adventures right in his own backyard, from a camp-out gone bust thanks to a frightened skunk, to surviving the storm of the century. Add the responsibility of watching over his pesky little brother, who has a penchant for wandering off when something new catches his eye, and Charlie finds that summer in the city is fun after all. Readers will be amused by his wiseacre remarks and wry view of the world. This title is suitable for those graduating from early readers to short chapter books, and it is a good summertime escape.—Roxanne Burg, Orange County Public Library, CA
Read an Excerpt
Was this supposed to be a change? No way. We lived here every day of the year. I knew every detail by heart. I knew the neighbor across the street would come out the next minute to water his lawn. And he did.
This wasn’t going to be a vacation at all. A vacation is when you go somewhere special and see new things and do stuff you’ve never done before. A vacation means going, not staying . . .
“A stay-cation,” I said to Max. “I wonder where Dad got that one.”
“I’d rather go on a go-cation.”
Then he laughed his head off.
• * *
“See that orange truck?” Max whispered. “The guy inside it is an ax murderer.” He ducked his head. “Here he comes. Stay down!”
An ax murderer? What was Max talking about?
The next minute, an ancient truck moved past our house, so slowly I could have beaten it in a foot race. The truck didn’t have any doors, and standing at the steering wheel was a man even more ancient than the truck. The lines on his face were so deep you could have drowned in them. He was steering with one hand and ringing a bell with the other.
The truck was covered with drawings of knives, scissors and axes.
“Look knives!” Max whispered. “I told you so.”
The truck stopped right in front of our house. I could have explained to Max that it was Tony the Knife Sharpener and not Tony the Bloodthirsty Criminal, but why not have a little fun? After all, there wasn’t anything else to do.
“You’re right,” I said to Max. “We’d better go investigate.”