HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW
Book: Hooples on the Highway
Author: Stephen Manes
Publisher: Avon Books, reprinted 1985
Language level: 2
(1=nothing objectionable; 2=common euphemisms and/or childish slang terms; 3=some cursing and/or profanity; 4=a lot of cursing and/or profanity; 5=obscenity and/or vulgarity)
Recommended reading level: Grades 4 – 6
Rating: **** 4 stars (GOOD)
Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker
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Manes, Stephen. Hooples on the Highway (published in 1978 by Coward McCann and Geoghegan Inc., 1650 Broadway, New York City, NY 10019; republished in 1985 by Camelot, a trademark of Avon Books, a division of The Hearst Corporation, 1790 Broadway, New York City, NY 10019). Alvin Hoople, a young boy of indeterminate age but probably around nine to twelve, lives with his Dad, Mom, and little sister Annie in Sherwood Forest, NY. The Hooples are heading on vacation to Philadelphia, PA, where they will visit with his cousin Marty’s family. They plan see sites like the Liberty Bell, Independence Hall, Ben Franklin’s house, and the U.S. Mint, where rumor has it they give out free samples. Also they will go to a Philadelphia Phillies’ baseball game. And best of all, they have tickets to “Bat Night” where every youngster fourteen and younger receives a free, full sized baseball bat autographed by the whole team.
However, once the Hooples get on the highway, everything seems to go wrong. Each time they stop, Annie keeps loses Lambie, her favorite stuffed toy. The stormy weather threatens to get everybody all wet. And then there’s the worst problem of all when their foreign car breaks down at Appleton, PA, and they have to spend the night in the Fine and Dandy Motel. Will they ever make it to Philadelphia? How can Alvin his souvenir bat? And what finally happens to Lambie? The euphemism “heck” is used once, but there is nothing else objectionable. I guess that the book is supposed to be funny based on relatable, real life experiences. Every parent has undoubtedly had to deal with “Are we there yet?” five minutes into a long trip. I must admit that Annie’s constant whining did get on my nerves rather quickly, and the Hooples’ somewhat permissive style of parenting probably didn’t help matters any.
At the same time, there is a great deal of good, clean humor in the book, and many people will find it hilarious. Alvin and his dad tell a lot of corny jokes, and several other amusing situations occur, along with some clever dialogue. Alvin does have an interesting imagination. It is basically harmless and is not too bad of a story. One reviewer wrote, “I think everyone can see a little bit of their childhood with the Hoople family.” Stephen Manes, also author of Be a Perfect Person in Just Three Days!, is perhaps best known for The Boy Who Turned into a TV Set. The two other books in the Hooples series are The Hooples’ Horrible Holiday and The Hooples’ Haunted House.