In this unique children's book by acclaimed cartoonist & author Jules Feiffer, Richard refuses to stop fooling around in the backseat of the car despite his father's warning that he s going to pull over by the side of the road & let Richard out unless he behaves. After a long, lonely wait by the side of the road, Richard decides that it s not such a bad place after all. So that's where he takes up residence, first in a small house, & then, as time goes by, in a network of underground hideaways, all by the side of the road. (for ages K-4)
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Master cartoonist and author Jules Feiffer takes a common family scenario and plays it out to the hilarious end in his delightful, over-the-top picture book By the Side of the Road. "'If you don't behave,' my father said, 'I'm gonna pull over right here, and you can wait by the side of the road till we come and get you.'" Little brother Rudy decides to cooperate, while older brother Richard chooses to wait by the side of the road: "An hour later I was kind of used to it. Two hours later it was where I wanted to live." Three hours later, his family comes back for him, but he's not ready to go. He's not ready the next time, either, but does accept a hamburger. And a sweater. Eventually, he is living full-time by the side of the road, aided by mother and father only occasionally dropping by with a poncho or a snowsuit, or a house, tutor, and generator, depending upon the season. Richard's elaborate tunnel system for storing "secret stuff" from comic books to "bottles thrown out of car windows" is straight out of every child's wildest dreams, as is his mock-Thoreau-style existence, free from grumpy dad and family rules (but well stocked with computer games and other essentials).
Throughout this outlandish scenario (Richard grows up and has his own family, still by the side of the road, later to be joined by his elderly parents), we think about discipline ("The way he said it made me unlearn the lesson I was right then in the middle of learning"), about family ("Sometimes you have to make concessions"), about independence, about dependence ("I'm hungry and I'm cold"), about loneliness, and about self-sufficiency. Feiffer's expressive, fluid drawings capture every motion and emotion with just the right lines, making this crazy run-on picture book a rousing success. (Ages 7 and older) --Karin SnelsonFrom Booklist:
Gr. 2-4, younger for reading aloud. Like William Steig's masterful Grown-Ups Get to Do All the Driving (1995), this picture book about family power starts in the car. The kid is furious because "they stick you in the backseat," and when his father threatens to abandon him ("either you behave or you get out of this car"), the boy acts cool ("who likes to be pushed around?"), calls his dad's bluff, and chooses to live by the side of the road. Forever. At first he's scared, but the triumph over his monster dad is worth it. This is every seething child's fantasy, especially when the rebellion fuses into a survival adventure with the child making a home for himself where he can do just what he likes, with a sleeping bag, a TV, a computer, and lots more. But, just like a kid's game, the story doesn't know how to end. It goes on far too long with details about the boy's growing up, building a tunnel home, getting married, having kids, and allowing his parents to move in with his family, to live happily ever after. Feiffer's full-page, black-and-white pictures don't need all that padding. A few relaxed lines against a blurry background, the minimalist images speak volumes. Whatever the boy may be saying, his intense body language reveals his terror, guilt, jealousy, anger, and pride--and all of them mixed together. And always, the straight, black, paved road is there with its shining white markings, as demonic as the father's authority. In one sense, the story is an adult's hippie dream, but the adult meanderings really only dilute what would have been a strong children's story. Hazel Rochman
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Book Description Hyperion, 2002. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. Never used!. Bookseller Inventory # P110756793718