Charlie and his family are about to embark on another trip, to another out-of-the-way place off the beaten path. This time they are heading to an island in Croatia, a country Charlie has never even heard of. An incredibly beautiful country that lives in the shadow of war and conflict.
Even for a seasoned traveler like Charlie, Croatia is a very different experience. To travel in a country where the language is completely unfamiliar and half the words have no vowels. To visit remote villages where the Internet is so slow, you might as well not have it at all. Where goats are a traffic-calming device, red cliffs loom like fortresses over an impossibly blue sea, and luggage porters are a line of women pushing wheelbarrows.
Still, Charlie and his little brother, Max, manage to find adventure wherever they go. There’s cliff diving, pigs on spits, hair-raising ferry crossings and snake juice for breakfast (“Breakfast in Croatia — at your own risk!”). And there’s a sober side to their adventures this time, too. A friend who was sentenced to Croatia’s version of Alcatraz, despite committing no crime. An unsettling encounter with the Hermit of Vrgada. The sight of a half-destroyed village divided by a war that nobody won.
Charlie finds out that this area of the world has a long and troubled history, that wars are complicated, and that long-time feuds can continue to divide neighbors generations later. But he also discovers that you don’t need to speak the same language to communicate with people. Not when you’re having a party in a field, surrounded by goats and dancing in the glow of car headlights with the radio blaring out Croatian music.
A warm, funny and thought-provoking book that celebrates a child’s love of adventure and boundless curiosity about the world.
An enjoyable read that could also trigger discussions of culture, history, ethics and politics.
Hints of gravity punctuate but do not puncture the holiday fun . . . A salutary, unusual look at part of the world rarely seen in North American children's literature, wrapped up in family fun.
A warm and amusing book that celebrates the enthusiasm of children to explore the unfamiliar world around them.
The wryly amusing story shows that less popular destinations can offer unexpected rewards as well as new ideas to ponder.
The prose is spry, literate, and lively, making this, and the whole series, a must for budding world-travelers.
Charlie’s voice and humor lighten even the darker moments, and his interaction with, and eventual appreciation of, even the quirkiest characters will guide young readers by example.