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Charlie can't wait for school to be over. But he's wondering what particular vacation ordeal his parents have lined up for the family this summer. Canoeing with alligators in Okefenokee? Getting caught in the middle of a revolutionary shootout in Mexico? Or perhaps another trip abroad?Turns out, this summer the family is staying put, in their hometown - Montreal, Canada. A "staycation," his parents call it. Charlie is doubtful at first but, ever resourceful, decides that there may be adventures and profit to be had in his own neighborhood.And there are. A campout in the backyard brings him in contact with more than one kind of wildlife, a sudden summer storm floods the expressway, various pet-sitting gigs turn almost-disastrous, and a baseball game goes awry when various intruders storm the infield - from would-be medieval knights and an over-eager ice-cream vendor to a fly-ball-catching Doberman. Then of course there's looking after his little brother, Max, who is always a catastrophe-in-the-making.
Marie-Louise Gay is a world-renowned author and illustrator of children’s books. She has a long and stellar list of major awards to her credit, including two Governor General’s awards, the Marilyn Baillie Picture Book Award, the Amelia Frances Howard-Gibbon Award, the Mr. Christie’s Book Award and the Elizabeth Mrazik-Cleaver Award. She has also been nominated for the Hans Christian Andersen Award. She is best known for her Stella and Sam books, which have been published in more than fifteen languages.Born and raised in Chicago, David Homel is an award-winning novelist, screenwriter, journalist and translator. He is a two-time winner of the Governor General’s Award for translation, and the author of six novels, including The Speaking Cure (winner of the Hugh Maclennan Prize and the Jewish Public Library Award for fiction) and, most recently, Midway (described by the Globe and Mail as “finely crafted, intelligent and moving”).
Was this supposed to be a change? No way. We lived here every day of the year. I knew every detail by heart. I knew the neighbor across the street would come out the next minute to water his lawn. And he did. This wasn’t going to be a vacation at all. A vacation is when you go somewhere special and see new things and do stuff you’ve never done before. A vacation means going, not staying . . . “A stay-cation,” I said to Max. “I wonder where Dad got that one.” “I’d rather go on a go-cation.” Then he laughed his head off.
* * *
“See that orange truck?” Max whispered. “The guy inside it is an ax murderer.” He ducked his head. “Here he comes. Stay down!” An ax murderer? What was Max talking about? The next minute, an ancient truck moved past our house, so slowly I could have beaten it in a foot race. The truck didn’t have any doors, and standing at the steering wheel was a man even more ancient than the truck. The lines on his face were so deep you could have drowned in them. He was steering with one hand and ringing a bell with the other. The truck was covered with drawings of knives, scissors and axes. “Look – knives!” Max whispered. “I told you so.” The truck stopped right in front of our house. I could have explained to Max that it was Tony the Knife Sharpener and not Tony the Bloodthirsty Criminal, but why not have a little fun? After all, there wasn’t anything else to do. “You’re right,” I said to Max. “We’d better go investigate.”