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The Vacation

3.62  ·  Rating details ·  222 Ratings  ·  47 Reviews
From the author of the Newbery Honor Book Everything on a Waffle

When his mother decides on a whim to be a missionary in Africa and drags his unwilling father with her, Henry is left in the care of his Aunts Magnolia and Pigg. Henry's sure they dislike him and he's trying to keep his distance, but that becomes more difficult when Mag decides they should take a destination-l
Hardcover, 208 pages
Published August 9th 2005 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR) (first published 2005)
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Community Reviews

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Rating details
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Jim Erekson
Nov 16, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: comedy, dark, novel
This was a great read-aloud. I so enjoy when Polly Horvath puts her effort into drawing the characters in all their humanity even if it paints her into some strange plot corners. I don't know if I even remember what really happened for most of the book, but I do remember laughing out loud over and over at the way Henry and his aunts said things. When Henry realized that he preferred his 'unpleasant' people to the milquetoast folks they met near the end, it felt good to agree. This is one of the ...more
Mahoghani 23
Apr 01, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: juvenile
This book concerns a young man name Henry that's 12 years old and his parents go to Africa on a missionary trip and left him in the care of his mom's sisters, Aunt Pig & Aunt Magnolia. They decide to redecorate Henry's family home to include painting all the rooms in the house. Their next adventure includes driving across the country on a family vacation. There are so many hilarious and crazy issues during this trip that it will provide a clear view of this family's disposition.

The book is
May 30, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: 7up, 2009
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Int'l librarian
Aug 22, 2016 rated it really liked it
This book is a very extended bout of silly, with a strong Roald Dahl vibe of cynicism. There’s a bit of plot and message here too. Any book with a chapter titled “Cat-Squishing Day” has to have its serious side. That’s good enough for me, but the average middle grader might find it all a bit too strange and rambling.

Henry is 12 years old, and his parents have abandoned him for the summer. His Mom wants to help people in Africa, somehow. She tries to convert to Mormonism, because they sponsor lo
Oct 12, 2007 rated it liked it
Shelves: 4th-6th_grade
Grade 6-9– Horvath spins another delightfully offbeat yarn, complete with her signature cast of eccentric characters, wacky situations, poignant moments, and snappy dialogue. Twelve-year-old Henry's mother decides on a whim to be a missionary in Africa and drags his father along, leaving Henry in the care of his aunts, Magnolia and Pigg, for several months. Mag, turning 40 and recovering from an obscure disease, decides that they need a vacation. They embark on a destination-less car trip that f ...more
Bridget R. Wilson
[Wonderful as per usual. If you want to laugh, pick up a book by Horvath (except The Canning Season):]

When Henry's mom unexpectedly decides to become a missionary, his parents travel to Africa leaving him in the care of his aunts Magnolia and Pigg. The aunts don't like children so they spend a large part of their time ignoring Henry. This is fine with him. He endures their stay from the comfort of his closet until the aunts decide to redecorate the house. Even his closet isn't safe from their de
Jun 17, 2017 rated it liked it
Odd but satisfying read. Even though the events of the story are a bit out there as far as realism goes the feelings and themes about family dysfunction and road trips were quite relatable. Heads up for mentions of disordered eating.
May 04, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2017
Great book! I listened to it on tape and thoroughly enjoyed it.
May 30, 2017 rated it it was ok
Leí una traducción en español. La edición tenía algunos dibujos, pero créalo o no, el ilustrador omitió el tan relevante mapa de los Estados Unidos, sin tener en cuenta que la serie en la que este libro fue publicado está dirigida a niños de habla hispana.
Por otro lado, los niños no hablan como Henry lo hace. Es una voz madura, ni en broma tiene doce, y petulante.
Kyle Weiscopf
Apr 21, 2016 rated it it was amazing
The vacation is a story where Henry one of the main characters in this story. Henry's parents want to go to Africa where Henry's dad gets malaria. His aunts visit Peg and Mag they go on a road trip first stop they visit Virginia beach, Next was Florida, Kansas, Mount Rushmore, then Colorado Lastly Iowa. Henry gets lost in Florida in a swamp. Then Henry gets to meet up with his parents again. Sadly they are crossed with Mag and Pegg. Then they are on their way to South Dakota mount Rushmore this ...more
Jan 01, 2014 rated it did not like it
Henry is left in the caretaking of two his two aunts: Aunt Mag, and Aunt Pigg when his mother decides to travel to Africa to pose as a missionary, and his father feels it would be best to follow. Henry and his aunts went on a road trip and tried to accomplish to travel across the United States to live their life. I did not find the plot of this book very interesting or eccentric at all to catch the reader you want to try to catch (6th-9th graders) , and then it all went downhill from there. The ...more
Jun 11, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: children-s-books
Unfortunately, I did not find the characters in this book likable nor the plot very interesting. Near the end, the narrator Henry gets fed up and yells, "How did I end up with all you unpleasant people?". Then he thinks, "It did seem as if every last person I loved was simply unbearably unpleasant and that I really should have been born into a nicer family.". Yep. That about summed it up...they weren't evil or dastardly or real villains, but they were unpleasant and fairly selfish. And the book ...more
Nov 19, 2009 rated it did not like it
Shelves: fiction
Henry is left in the care of two aunts (Mag and Pigg) when his mother decides to travel to Africa posing as a missionary and his father feels obligated to follow. The eccentric aunts and Henry spend several weeks trying to coexist while ignoring each other. After redecorating the entire house and Aunt Mag surviving a dire illness, the aunts decide to embark on their long-held dream of taking a road trip, with Henry in tow. Despite my description, which implies interesting things happen in this b ...more
Feb 18, 2010 rated it really liked it
Summary: The Vacation is about a boy, Henry and his aunts and their road trip while his parents are in Africa.

Passage: "There's a right way and a wrong way to do everything. Of course, you're going to have to learn your own right and wrong to hold to, because that will be your moral compass, son. And with a moral compass you need never get lost, and believe me, we're all afraid of getting lost."

I picked this as my passage because being lost is a motif in the story. Henry's mom was lost in Afr
Ashley Blake
Jul 24, 2008 rated it it was ok
Polly Horvath is one of my favorite authors...however this was not my favorite book of hers and hey, that's okay, we can't be at high levels of perfection all the time, now can we? Nope. All in all, I feel that very little happened in this book that would hold the attention of a 12-year old. I found my mind wandering many times and I'm 28. The protagonist, a 12-year old boy himself, came across as unrealistic and way too adult. I think Horvath does better with female protagonists. Even though no ...more
Jun 29, 2012 rated it liked it
I picked this because Polly Horvath has always made me laugh and i was ready for a laugh after "Some Sing Some Cry which was so dang depressing". Well, I was in for disappointment. It starts out with two crotchety aunts (that are not mean enough to be funny, just rude) and some irresponsible parents. The book grew on me however, as did the characters. It wasn't lighthearted, and dealt with some serious topics, but Horvath always finds some interesting things about human nature to communicate thr ...more
Jody Lewandowski
Quite a sharp bite of sarcasm and that Dahl dark quality to this Horvath story. I DO love seeing people connect who at first seem incompatible. I just dislike parents who do stupid things like take off for Africa with out explanation, leaving children to cope. Granted, Henry is 12, and he eventually lands on his feet. I will always compare her books to Everything on a Waffle which hit that sweet spot of dark humor balanced with warmth and hope. The Vacation tried, but didn't quite get the balanc ...more
Feb 18, 2015 rated it liked it
The Vacation by Polly Horvath is a great book! Henry's parents go to Africa and leave Henry at home. Henry stays with his two aunts named Aunt Pigg and Aunt Magnolia. They go to different places like Virginia,
Colorado, Florida, Shenadoah Valley, and many more. Together, they travel all around the world until Henry's parents come home.
I recommend this book to people who like adventure, vacations, and fun!!! ENJOY THIS BOOK,YOU WON'T REGRET IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Apr 11, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2014-my-books
When his parents go to Africa, a boy reluctantly travels the country with his two somewhat eccentric aunts, having adventures including getting lost in a Florida swamp. Along the way he also learns more about who he is and how he fits in with other, at times challenging, people. I always enjoy Horvath's style and quirky characters. I was just a little disappointed with the ending ... or lack thereof.
Jan 19, 2011 rated it really liked it
Henry's mom goes off to Africa to be a missionary and drags his dad along leaving Henry in the care of two eccentric aunts, Pigg and Magnolia. After completely redecorating Henry’s home and utterly ignoring Henry they decided to go on a vacation. Thus begins a car trips that visits the beach, swamps, deserts, plains and mountains as they drive across America. Henry begins to call the backseat him home. He learns that no matter where we are “we are all ok all the time.”
Jun 19, 2013 rated it it was ok
Two and a half stars. Kind of a strange book! Seriously, where's the plot structure -- especially, an ending? -- and such a goofy premise. The main character is much too passive to be interesting. But the other characters are quirky, and we grew more interested in them. And we wanted to hear about a certain character's reaction to burnt orange! Oh well!
Mr. Steve
May 28, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: ya, never-again, journeys
This is one wacky road trip! Oddball humor when Henry goes on a road trip with two eccentric aunts, Pigg and Mag.

I'm not sure I got the humor in this book very much, but I know of two 7th graders who thought this book was very funny. I'm not one of them.
Susan Honthumb
Oct 23, 2012 rated it liked it
Another delightful book by Polly Horvath. I love the vocabulary; every so often, a word pops out at me and I realize that young adult books don't have to only use simple language. There's nothing predictable about this book.
Dianne White
I couldn't get into this book, and finally put it down after the first 50 pages. The characters seemed overly and pointlessly mean, and I couldn't keep going. I've enjoyed other Polly Horvath books, but - in the case of this book - she seems to have gone too far with her quirky characters.
Oct 06, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: j-humorous
A boy is stuck visiting his aunts while his parents go on a trip to Africa. Things get more exciting when his aunts decide to go on their own road trip.
Mar 06, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: isra,rushna
Recommended to Shifabintfozi by: feiza
very nice book!
Sergio Or
Sep 07, 2013 rated it did not like it
This book could be better but isnt 'cause it has so much borried pages and it doesnt has a Good and Excited Part
Apr 10, 2013 rated it liked it
I like the author's matter-of-fact style and the way this book rambled like a road trip. It was a fun read.
Oct 24, 2008 rated it liked it
WHAT is up with him reading with a lisp if a woman's talking? (I'm listening to it on CD);it's really frustrating, annoying, and a little offensive. I thought just little kids did that???
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Polly Horvath is the author of many books for young people, including Everything on a Waffle, The Pepins and Their Problems, The Canning Season and The Trolls. Her numerous awards include the Newbery Honor, the National Book Award for Young People's Literature, the Boston Globe-Horn Book Honor, the Vicky Metcalf Award for Children's Literature, the Mr. Christie Award, the international White Raven ...more
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