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by Lisa Doan ; illustrated by Marta Kissi

Age Range: 9 - 12

Pub Date: June 25th, 2019
ISBN: 978-1-250-15411-8
Publisher: Roaring Brook

A young boy vacations on a boat full of misfits.

Growing up with a miserly father, Charlie Pennypacker has never taken a real vacation outside the staged ones in their backyard. Over time this embarrassment cost him his best friend, Gunter, who exposed his fake vacations to his classmates. After his profligate lawyer mom demands a real family trip, his father surprisingly complies, booking a Disney cruise in the Caribbean. But when they arrive it turns out not to be Disney but a “Wisney Cruise,” a worn-down fishing boat staffed by a less-than-enthusiastic staff. To Charlie’s chagrin, Gunter also appears. It turns out Charlie’s dad agreed to babysit Gunter for $30 a day. Just when it seems things can’t get worse, Charlie and Gunter witness ship’s captain Wisner narrowly escaping two men in black suits who threaten they’ll catch up to him eventually. Suspecting the mob, the former friends temporarily set aside their differences to find out Wisner’s troubles. Doan sets up a promising adventure with plenty of extreme personalities and outlandish situations. Unfortunately each player ends up defined by their quirks, disallowing any growth or a chance for readers to enjoy the humor in the situation. Charlie, his family, and the captain are illustrated as white while Gunter is biracial, with a Korean dad and (default-white) German mom.

A misadventure that misses the boat. (Fiction. 9-12)