Jacob Armstrong is 12 years old and he’s on a honeymoon. The honeymoon is his mother’s. Also on the honeymoon is his mother’s new husband, Fred Finkle, and Fred’s annoying kids, Barney Finkle, 10, and Sam Finkle, 8, along with Jacob’s own rebellious 15-year-old sister, Minerva. They’re on their way to Mexico. It’s a Mexico honeymoon for six. So begins Norma Charles’ funny and wise novel for kids–especially boys–aged 10 to 13.
The newly “blended” family is crammed into an old station wagon heading south for a month’s trip from Vancouver to Mexico. Each of the four children has different coping strategies: Barney Finkle tells non-stop cow jokes, preparing for a career as a stand-up comedian; Sam Finkle invents his own world with his toy action figures; Minerva is plugged into her CD player, lost behind a barrier of music. And Jacob … Jacob cradles his soccer ball in his lap and dreams about being a star soccer player. But when the family finally reaches Mexico, they stay in a tourist trap with not a single soccer game anywhere … How will Jacob cope? Eventually, the new family manages to not only survive the trip but develop bonds that pull them closer.
This engaging novel is filled with humour, even as it documents a difficult time in a boy’s life. One of the unique features of the story is that the family is multicultural–even multi-racial. Gradually the reader becomes aware that Jacob, his sister and his mom are black (originally from the Caribbean), while the Finkles are white and English. Norma doesn’t dwell on these issues, but treats them matter-of-factly, from the 12-year-old boy’s perspective. A funny, sweet, engaging story from a writer with a proven track record.
Winner of the Chocolate Lily Award, 2003/2004