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By the Side of the Road [Hardcover]

Jules Feiffer
3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)

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Book Description

May 1 2002

Master cartoonist and author Jules Feiffer takes a common familyscenario and plays it out to the hilarious end in his delightful, over-the-toppicture book By the Side of the Road. " `If you don`t behave,` my fathersaid, `I`m gonna pull over right here, and you can wait by the side of the roadtill we come and get you. `" Little brother Rudy decides to cooperate, whileolder brother Richard chooses to wait by the side of the road: " An hour later Iwas kind of used to it. Two hours later it was where I wanted to live. " Threehours later, his family comes back for him, but he`s not ready to go. He`s notready 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 andfather only occasionally dropping by with a poncho or a snowsuit, or a house,tutor, and generator, depending upon the season. Richard`s elaborate tunnelsystem for storing " secret stuff" from comic books to " bottles thrown out of carwindows" is straight out of every child`s wildest dreams, as is hismock-Thoreau-style existence, free from grumpy dad and family rules (but wellstocked 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) , wethink about discipline (" The way he said it made me unlearn the lesson I wasright then in the middle of learning" ) , about family (" Sometimes you have tomake concessions" ) , about independence, about dependence (" I`m hungry and I`mcold" ) , 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 Snelson


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From Amazon

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 Snelson

From Publishers Weekly

On a two-hour car ride, Richard wrestles with his brother in the backseat despite his parents' angry glances. He reports the incident in disaffected sentences, while duotone images picture his refusal to heed the threats. " `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.'... Who likes to be pushed around? `I think I'll wait by the side of the road,' I said." After his family drives away, Richard isn't afraid. In fact, he enjoys the grassy shoulder. When his scowling, heavy-set father returns and snarls, "Learned your lesson yet, wise guy?" the boy coolly chooses his own destiny: "The way he said it made me unlearn the lesson I was right then in the middle of learning." He goes on living by the highway, where he digs a system of caves and becomes the envy of other children. It becomes apparent that the child has abandoned his parents, instead of the other way around, as Richard's disempowered mother and father humbly bring provisions for his new home. Whereas Feiffer's I'm Not Bobby! described a boy's noisy defiance in assertive statements and an oversize scrawl, this compact, horizontal-format book conveys equally intense passion in a quieter way. The cinematic sequence of blurred, ink-wash illustrations traces Richard's independent life into adulthood and concludes on an absurd but credibly contented note. All ages.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
I was fooling around in the backseat of the car with my little brother, Rudy. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
2.0 out of 5 stars Mixed Messages May 22 2003
Format:Hardcover
The book sends mixed messages to children. What starts out as a message about empowerment and choosing one's own destiny, disintegrates into the opposite. The story is about a boy who chooses to be left on the side of the road rather than, depending on how you look at it, behave during a car ride, OR endure verbal abuse from a father with poor parenting skills.
The boy uses peaceful social protest to produce an end to tyranny. Ultimately, his parents are both upset and repentent (bringing the boy food, clothing and shelter). The boy, however, goes too far and becomes fanatical and self absorbed. He becomes enslaved to the idea of defying inequity even when it no longer exists. Instead of choosing a home and the company of friends and family, the boy chooses isolation, dwelling in a cave and takes satisfaction in a collection of articles about serial killers.
At the end of the story the boy grows up and he has a wife, kids, and his parents living with him in the cave. His brother has established his own "more modern" cave in Seattle. What started out as a celebration of independant thinking ends with all the characters thinking alike. The book ends with a single thought, "Thank God" all the cave dwellers say when they return to their home. Thank God for what?
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2.0 out of 5 stars No! Please no! Feb. 28 2003
Format:Hardcover
...
I have to admit that when I found this book, I was so excited by the idea of the story, I bought two of them. I mean, what could be more entertaining? A parent who actually leaves the kid on the side of the road. I was always wanting to call that bluff on my parents. And in the future, I think I'll be wanting to use that threat plenty of times on my own car load of kids.
But then what began as a great idea fizzled into a nightmare on parenting. As you've read above, the KID decides HE doesn't want to go back home when his parents come back to get him. Then he creates his own life and own world by the side of the road.
Perhaps this really is a reflection of our day and age, and should be revered as such - a time where kids can determine how things go - where kids are the bosses and adults are supposed to listen to them.
And perhaps a seven year old is mature enough to read (or hear) this story and realize that that's all it is - a story - a childhood fantasy. However, for some reason, I don't think a seven year old has quite begun to separate fiction and reality, yet. And for some reason, I'd rather my kids were living in the fantasy world of "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe" rather than in a world where they can do something they shouldn't be doing and get away with it. That attitude already permeates reality as it is.
I did keep reading the story - hoping that _something_ would happen so the boy learned a lesson. But nothing does. He builds an underground house and has a family and his parents eventually come to live with him. And that's it.
By the way, if you're dying to read this book because of the conflicting reviews - check it out from the library... don't waste your money.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Every Child's Secret Fantasy..... Nov. 5 2002
Format:Hardcover
"I was fooling around in the backseat of the car with my little brother, Rudy..." So begins Richard's simple story of how he ended up living his life "by the side of the road." One thing led to another, as it usually does on a long car trip, until his father finally issued that well known and well worn ultimatum: "If you don't behave, I'm gonna pull over right here, and you can wait by the side of the road till we come and get you." But this time when his father pulled the car on to the shoulder and stopped, Richard decided to call his bluff and get out. And there he stood, by the side of the road. At first he was a little nervous, standing there. "An hour later I was kind of used to it. Two hours later it was where I wanted to live. Better than my house at least, where my mother and father were always telling me what to do." When his parents come back to take him home, he decides he likes it right where he is, and chooses to stay. As hours pass to days, then weeks, months, and eventually years, no one can convince Richard to go back home, and he makes quite a nice life for himself by the side of the road..... Jules Feiffer offers the ultimate childhood fantasy in this clever and engaging picture book. His straighforward text, with its deadpan delivery is secondary to the marvelous cartoon-like, black and white illustrations, and each page is filled with playful wit, expressive detail, and emotion. Unfortunately, Mr Feiffer goes a bit too far and too long, detailing Richard's entire roadside life, and concludes with a weak ending that detracts from an otherwise charming fantasy. Perfect for youngsters 10 and older, By The Side Of The Road is worth a read just for the artwork, and will delight kids with its intriguing, though unrealistic possibilities.
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4.0 out of 5 stars By the side of the side of the outside June 1 2002
Format:Hardcover
Out is good. Away is even better. Far away is better still.
In the late 60's I remember seeing a hitchhiker outside San Francisco holding a cardboard sign with one word: OUT.
This book recounts the glories of OUT, which are many: freedom, choices, time to think, creation, and many, many more.
It also warns any potential away-getters that others, for example, moms; dads; friends; potential mates hunting you down; possibly, though not necessarily, siblings; former teachers (not mentioned in the book but also likely, :-)) ) and sundry others.
This can be and is marketed as a child's picture book by our witty and simultaneously biting friend Jules Feiffer, but it is for the child in anyone.
It reached the child in me and, for 20 or so light minutes before I picked my fourth grader son up at school, made me, may I utter it, happy.
I hope and trust it will do the same for you whether you have a fourth grader or not.
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