A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Max and his classmates are doing projects about biographies. Names of many noteworthy people and their contributions are introduced: Sacagawea, Magellan, John Glenn, Jacques Cousteau, Fanny Workman, and Ernest Shackleton. Max takes his biography about a famous explorer to heart and decides to model his adventures in real life.
Family is family no matter what shape or name it has. Explorers make sacrifices. Facing fears can bring great rewards.
Positive Role Models
Max's parents, teachers, friends, and family are there to help him through tough times. His mom teaches him how to breathe "slow, slow, slowly" when he's anxious, which helps him through a challenging time.
A waitress tells Max and his mom to "check out Barack Obama and Joe Biden's buns" on the way out of the hot dog restaurant. Max thinks it "sounded funny to be told to check out a president's buns."
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Products & Purchases
Max and his mom stop at a famous hot dog place that has signatures of many famous people on the buns. Margaret Thatcher, Danny Glover, Alan Alda, and Art Garfunkel are named, as well as President Obama and Joe Biden. This hot dog place is a real restaurant in Toledo, Ohio, but it's not mentioned by name.
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Linda Urban's Road Trip with Max and His Mom, the sequel to Weekends with Max and His Dad, deals with life after divorce through the eyes of a third-grader. Max feels some anxiety when his mom announces that she plans to take a road trip to a family reunion and that Max will miss his designated weekend with his dad. Max's confusion is illustrated by sudden urges to run around, worrying about seemingly minor things, and trying to please people. But he's supported and loved in a way that lets him put his worries in perspective, helping him to view life as an adventure.
Is It Any Good?
Poignant, funny, and sweet, this story about a kid's life post-divorce is realistic without being heavy. Like the first installment in this three-book series (a third is due in 2019), Road Trip with Max and His Mom does a good job illustrating the shifts that occur after a parents' split, while steadily maintaining a kid's point of view. Author Linda Urban deftly handles those awkward moments of post-divorce life, which are packed with emotional meaning. In one instance, Max invites his dad on the road trip, the details of which his parents have clearly arranged behind-the-scenes. Max's mom gently says that Dad is not invited and goes on to explain that she and Max's dad may not be very good at spending time with each other, but "we're both very, very good at loving you."
Urban takes on a subject that many families have trouble discussing, and the warmth, character, and inclusiveness that this book exudes is inspiring. Max is a kid who's scared and brave and mixed up, but he's ultimately able to move forward. And here's why: His parents make sure to pay attention to Max's needs while adjusting to their own circumstances. This is a story about divorce that can be read to young kids who'll get the message that parents are not perfect, but they're doing the best they can.
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