Tuesday, May 05, 2015

He Made Me Do It! The Worst Class Trip Ever by Dave Barry

None of this stuff would have happened if I hadn't been sitting next to Matthew Diaz.

Don't get me wrong. Matt is my best friend. But he can be an idiot. When we were in kindergarten, pretty much all the boys were idiots, so he didn't stand out so much, and we became best friends. So now, even though we're in eighth grade, and he's sometimes unbelievably annoying, I'm kind of stuck with him.

That's why I ended up sitting next to him on the plane on the class trip.

It's time for the customary Miami middle school trip to Washington, D.C., and Wyatt Palmer's hopes are mostly centered around trying to win a smile from his crush, the tall and athletic Suzana, and spending a few days away from his sometimes embarrassing parents, especially his father, whose insistence on fetching the morning newspaper in his antique holey boxers gets him chased by an alligator, videoed by the inevitable neighbor's phone, and an appearance on a humiliating segment of the evening news. But Wyatt hopes that's all behind as he and Matt board the plane for the nation's capital.

But then two strange guys take their seats behind them.

One is small, wearing purple Crocs, and clinging to a backpack. The other is big, bald, with snake tattoos, blocking the aisle trying to stuff an odd-shaped duffle into the overhead compartment. The flight attendant, whom Wyatt describes as old enough to have been the Wright brothers' flight attendant, tells Croc Guy to stow his backpack under his seat for take-off. He refuses.

"Is very important."

Matt, who I believe I already mentioned can be an idiot, said--too loud, as usual--"What do you think he has in that bag? A missile?" The big guy looked down at Matt like he was about to stuff him into the overhead space.

Oblivious to the fact that he and Wyatt are marked men, Matt is convinced that the suspicious pair are terrorists, and reaching under his seat, he manages to fish a suspicious looking gizmo out of Croc Guy's backpack. A bit of googling at the hotel by their roommate Victor reveals that the device is indeed covert contraband, a stolen laser controller that jams incoming missiles. Just as the kids realize that Tattoo and Croc Guy must be terrorists on a deadly mission, the bad guys snatch Matt and hold him for ransom until the others fork over the jammer. The gorgeous and game Suzana is recruited to distract their clueless teacher to cover for Matt's absence on the tour bus, and she's the one who figures out that the two terrorists must be planning to assassinate the President and a visiting premier from Gabakistan in a Rose Garden press conference. The kids need give their chaperones the slip, rescue Matt, and foil the terrorists. They've got their cell phones, the terrorists' gizmo, and Suzana's extreme karate skills. What they seriously need is a plan.

And the chase is on, in Pulitzer-winning humorist Dave Barry's hilarious just-published killer-diller thriller, The Worst Class Trip Ever (Hyperion Books, 2015), which spotlights five eighth-graders in a plot to save the world and ends with Wyatt piloting a giant dragon kite, the missile jammer in hand, over the Rose Garden and.... Well, you gotta be there all the way to savor every comic turn of master humorist Dave Barry's plot in this page-turning, goofball adventure.

Barry is a blast, and middle readers who dote on his sometimes co-author Carl Hiaasen's Newbery winner Hoot and his top-selling eco-adventures Flush, Scat; Chomp, and Skink--No Surrender, (see reviews here) will find this one just the ticket for a literary tour that will end field trip boredom and the end-of-term blahs.

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