This month, the third book in the Travels with My Family Trilogy, Summer in the City, is coming out. This trio of books was written with my husband David Homel, in the often funny and ironic first-person voice of Charlie, the eldest son. When we wrote the initial book, Travels with my Family, we wanted to tell and relive our family’s traveling stories, summer vacations and adventures, when we traveled across Canada and the USA and on to Mexico with our two boys (and our cat), crammed into an old car between suitcases, books and fishing nets.
In On the Road Again! we wrote nostalgically about a year spent in a tiny village in the South of France where Charlie and Max discovered with delight the quirkiness and strangeness of French rural life, from being chased by bulls in the village square to being caught in rush-hour sheep traffic.
Traveling has always been a priority for our family. And when we couldn’t travel because of work or other reasons, we traveled in our own city of Montreal, discovering anew the place we love.
This is exactly what happens in Summer in the City. Charlie and Max, deprived of their annual trip of wild adventures and mishaps in one part of the world or another, explore the alleyways and backyards, the parks and streets of their neighborhood and its surrounding areas. Charlie, thinking he will die of boredom if he spends the summer in his hometown with his brother in tow, discovers that there are adventures to be had after all. From creating a detective agency for lost cats to a wildly unsuccessful dog-walking business,
spying on aliens, members of the Mafia or hundred-year-old supposed axe murderers, or camping in the wilds of their backyard and skateboarding on a moonlit night,
Charlie also manages to save his brother from jail (after a spectacular bread-truck robbery) and his father from drowning on the expressway during the Storm of The Century…
It was a challenge to write Summer in the City after the exotic adventures of Travels with My Family and On the Road Again! But then I remembered when I was young, how endless summer felt. How glorious! No school, no homework, just days and days of fun stretching out before me. Books to read, games to play, swimming at the pool, picnics in the park or just doing nothing.
This is what inspired Summer in the City, because having time to daydream, to think, to invent stories and adventures feeds children’s imaginations, and leads them to discover themselves and the world around them.
We gave Charlie the time to create his own perfect summer.