My son and I took a chance on this for read aloud based only on the title. Death. Adventure. He was hooked. (He is a 10 year old boy). And My Near-Death Adventures by Alison DeCamp was a fine choice for our read aloud time, as it is funny, hyperbolic look at living in the time of lumber camps and Lumberjacks and how a boy is missing the father he never knew, so he searches the camp for another one.
DeCamp liberally uses hyperbole to tell this tall tale, but for me, it was the voice of the narrator — Stanley Slater — that comes through as a confused kid, a bit curious about the world, and trying to navigate that shifting space between childhood and manhood while surrounded by strong women working to keep the family together. It’s not easy for Stan.
My son got tired of the “I’m a whiz at …” phrase that Stan says quite a bit (he’d be quite the expert if everything he said was true) so I began to replace the phrase with others (Sorry, Alison).
I loved how she let Stan’s inner thoughts sneak out as mumbles that other characters would hear, as it makes for some hilarious interactions. And while Stan does not get what he wants (he never finds his father, who has abandoned the family, and he does not get to join the river run of logs), he does discover some things about life and some loose ends get tied up by the end of the novel that indicates that Stan and his mother will be OK, even if his “evil” Granny is still in the picture.
My Near-Death Adventures is a fun read-aloud, and I almost forgot to mention one of the more interesting elements of this book. DeCamp uses the scrapbook idea to very funny means here, showing Stan’s collection of cutout images from magazines, complete with Stan’s doodling on the pictures, so that there are visual jokes to go along with the text. It is quite effective.
Peace (in the adventure),