At first Curtis isn't that worried when his mother doesn't come home from her all-night job at the local gas bar. She'll be back, he's ten out of ten positive. After all, she promised she would never leave him again.
Besides, Curtis is used to looking after himself and his five-year-old brother, Artie, and for a time he manages things on his own, keeping their mother's absence a secret. He knows exactly what will happen if any of the teachers find out the truth. He remembers his last horrible foster home all too clearly.
Curtis gets pretty good at forging his mother's signature, but when the credit card maxes out and the landlord starts pressuring for the rent, it's more than a twelve-year-old can handle. Just in time, Curtis and Artie make friends with Mrs. Burt, the cranky, lonely old lady who lives across the street. And when the authorities start to investigate, the boys agree to go with Mrs. Burt to her remote cabin by the lake, and the three of them abscond in her 1957 Chevy Bel Air.
At the lake, the boys' days are filled with wood-chopping, outhouse-building, fishing, swimming and Mrs. Burt's wonderful cooking. But as the summer sails by, Curtis can't stop thinking about his mother's promise.
Then the weather grows colder, and Mrs. Burt seems to be preparing to spend the winter at the cabin, and Curtis starts to worry.
Have they really all just absconded to the lake for a summer holiday? Or have the two boys been kidnapped?
Set in Vancouver and the B.C. wilderness (the trip to the cabin involves a hilarious white-knuckled road trip through Hope), this is a book that reflects Caroline Adderson's many writerly strengths — her "wit and a facility for dialogue, good pacing and a brisk, clean prose style" (Globe and Mail), her "close observation of telling details" (Quill & Quire) and her ability to "celebrate a child's imagination in a realistically humorous way" (Canadian Materials).close this panel
Caroline Adderson is the author of several award-winning books for adults as well as for children. Her works of adult fiction (Bad Imaginings, A History of Forgetting, Pleased to Meet You and The Sky Is Falling) have been nominated for the Governor General's Award, the Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize, the Giller Prize and the Commonwealth Writers' Prize. She is a three-time CBC Literary Award winner, two-time winner of the Ethel Wilson Fiction Prize and recipient of the 2006 Marian Engel Award for her body of work. Caroline's children's books include I, Bruno (nominated for the Chocolate Lily and Shining Willow book awards), Very Serious Children (winner of the Diamond Willow Award and shortlisted for the Rocky Mountain Book Award) and Jasper John Dooley (Spring 2012, Kids Can).She lives in Vancouver with her husband, filmmaker Bruce Sweeney, and their son, Patrick.close this panel
The elements of a good story are present, but its telling lacks resonance, character development and depth of understanding.
Two-time Ethel Wilson Fiction Prize winner Caroline Adderson is that rare bird: a writer who brings to the middle-grade novel the artistry and respect it deserves . . .To write them requires a particular skill set, one that Adderson exhibits in spades.