cover image Road Trip

Road Trip

Gary Paulsen and Jim Paulsen. Random/Lamb, $12.99 (128p) ISBN 978-0-385-74191-0

A devoted raconteur of dog stories, Gary Paulsen (Notes from the Dog) along with his sculptor son, Jim, pull from a family tradition of adopting shelter dogs for their absorbing first collaboration. When Ben’s impulsive father recruits him to help rescue a border collie, the boy agrees—reluctantly. Ben is disgruntled because his father has just quit his job to start flipping houses, leaving no money to send the 14-year-old to hockey camp; to jab at his father, Ben invites along Theo, a tattooed 18-year-old friend who’s had brushes with the law. A gruff garage mechanic and a prescient waitress add color, as does family dog Atticus, who lends his amusing, perceptive voice in occasional interludes (“Getting a dog is a terrible idea,” he grumbles early on. “Dogs are messy and needy”). The authors score on all fronts: they set an entertainingly frenzied pace, provide twists aplenty, create true dialogue that blends humor and pathos, and bring together a close-knit ensemble. Ben’s testy yet loving relationship with his father is particularly well done, a testament to this father-son duo’s ability to work together. Ages 10–up. (Jan.)