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An Occasionally Happy Family



by
Cliff Burke

Edition
Hardcover edition
Publisher
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Imprint
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
ISBN
9780358325673
POTENTIALLY SENSITIVE AREAS
None
$20.16   $16.80
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Gordon Korman meets The Great Outdoors in this funny and moving debut about a boy who goes on a disastrous family vacation (sweltering heat! bear chases!) that ends with a terrible surprise: his dad's new girlfriend.

There are zero reasons for Theo Ripley to look forward to his family vacation. Not only are he, sister Laura, and nature-obsessed Dad going to Big Bend, the least popular National Park, but once there, the family will be camping. And Theo is an indoor animal. It doesn’t help that this will be the first vacation they’re taking since Mom passed away.

Once there, the family contends with 110 degree days, wild bears, and an annoying amateur ornithologist and his awful teenage vlogger son. Then, Theo’s dad hits him with a whopper of a surprise: the whole trip is just a trick to introduce his secret new girlfriend.

Theo tries to squash down the pain in his chest. But when it becomes clear that this is an auditioning-to-be-his-stepmom girlfriend, Theo must find a way to face his grief and talk to his dad before his family is forever changed.

POTENTIALLY SENSITIVE AREAS
None

Details

Format

Print

Page Count

224

Trim Size

8 3/10" x 5 1/2"

Dewey

F

AR

0: points 0

Genre

Fiction

Scholastic Reading Counts

0

JLG Release

Sep 2021

Book Genres

Realistic Fiction

Topics

Family vacations. Camping. Road trips. Hiking. Death of a parent. Grief in children. Big Bend National Park, Texas. Siblings. Humorous stories.

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Cover Art

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Praise & Reviews

School Library Journal

Gr 3-6–Theo is glad that it is his summer vacation. He thinks about all the fun he will have with his friends, playing video games or going to robotics camp. However, those plans are not in the cards for Theo. He has been roped into going with his dad and older sister to Big Bend National Park, the least popular of all the national parks. While this is a little better than the family’s usual vacation of visiting their grandmother, it’s still a lot of hiking in the woods with bugs and high temperatures. Theo’s dad, a typical high school science teacher, loves nature and is a bit too eager for the trip—he has also not planned all that well. Luckily, Laura excels at planning and has brought better snacks, found more amusing activities, and has even upgraded their overnight stays. Since their mother’s death from cancer a few years ago, Laura’s taken on the role of family organizer. Theo isn’t thrilled about the idea of the long drive with limited electronics time, or doing any of that outdoor camping stuff, but those things end up being the least of his worries. Theo goes from one unpleasant situation to another (including sweltering heat, his dad’s new hiker “friends,” and a close encounter with wildlife) until he finally discovers that his dad’s big secret is a woman he’s been seeing and he wants them to meet. This is a good, realistic, and a funny book about a family in transition. There are plenty of funny moments, and the scenes with Lucrecia hit just the right note. VERDICT Sure to be a popular title, especially with fans of humor, road trip adventures, and James Patterson’s books.–Amy Caldera, Dripping Springs M.S., TX

Praise & Reviews

School Library Journal

Gr 3-6–Theo is glad that it is his summer vacation. He thinks about all the fun he will have with his friends, playing video games or going to robotics camp. However, those plans are not in the cards for Theo. He has been roped into going with his dad and older sister to Big Bend National Park, the least popular of all the national parks. While this is a little better than the family’s usual vacation of visiting their grandmother, it’s still a lot of hiking in the woods with bugs and high temperatures. Theo’s dad, a typical high school science teacher, loves nature and is a bit too eager for the trip—he has also not planned all that well. Luckily, Laura excels at planning and has brought better snacks, found more amusing activities, and has even upgraded their overnight stays. Since their mother’s death from cancer a few years ago, Laura’s taken on the role of family organizer. Theo isn’t thrilled about the idea of the long drive with limited electronics time, or doing any of that outdoor camping stuff, but those things end up being the least of his worries. Theo goes from one unpleasant situation to another (including sweltering heat, his dad’s new hiker “friends,” and a close encounter with wildlife) until he finally discovers that his dad’s big secret is a woman he’s been seeing and he wants them to meet. This is a good, realistic, and a funny book about a family in transition. There are plenty of funny moments, and the scenes with Lucrecia hit just the right note. VERDICT Sure to be a popular title, especially with fans of humor, road trip adventures, and James Patterson’s books.–Amy Caldera, Dripping Springs M.S., TX

Grades 5-8
High Interest Middle Plus
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These exciting, age-appropriate fiction and nonfiction titles will appeal to even the most reluctant middle-school readers. With that kind of appeal, the 12 books in this category will rarely sit on the shelf.

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Interests
Clean Books,Chapter Books/Novels,Diversity,Fiction,Graphic Novels,Reluctant Readers,Transitional Readers,Thriller/Horror/Mystery,Funny/Humorous,Realistic Fiction
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Grades 5-8
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