Acclaimed author Gary Paulsen has often written about dogs, and is known as an enthusiastic fan of canines. He clearly passed this love on to his son, Jim, co-author of Road Trip, the quirky, fast-paced story of a father and son on a quest to rescue a young border collie.
As Gary Paulsen explains in his author’s note, he and Jim hadn’t actually set out purposefully to write a book together. Instead the project grew naturally and organically, with each sharing chapters over email. Notes the Newbery award-winning author: “Maybe it’s because we both love dogs that we could work together like this. . . . Jim and I lost track when we tried to count how many dogs we’ve owned over the years. But we’ve never lost sight of how much they added to our lives.”
Road Trip begins, appropriately, at the beginning of summer vacation. Fourteen-year-old Ben isn’t surprised at the sudden summons to hop in the truck and travel light. He’s used to tagging along with his dad’s spur-of-the moment adventures. And so is Atticus, the current (and sole) family Border collie. Atticus, who sometimes seems to know more than his humans, provides some of the book’s funniest passages. Atticus is not entirely keen on the quest to get another dog. “Getting a dog is a terrible idea,” he states. “Dogs are not my favorite thing. Dogs are messy and needy.”
Like all good road trips, this story contains adventure, danger, surprises, unexpected twists and turns, and a bevy of eccentric characters. And why not? From On the Road to Little Miss Sunshine, road trips are in our collective blood. Young readers could not begin with better guides than Gary and Jim Paulsen.