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)