Author: Dave Barry
224 Pages—Ages 8-12 (and up)
Published by: Disney-Hyperion on May 5, 2015
Summary (from goodreads.com):
In this hilarious novel, written in the voice of eighth-grader Wyatt Palmer, Dave Barry takes us on a class trip to Washington, DC. Wyatt, his best friend, Matt, and a few kids from Culver Middle School find themselves in a heap of trouble-not just with their teachers, who have long lost patience with them-but from several mysterious men they first meet on their flight to the nation’s capital. In a fast-paced adventure with the monuments as a backdrop, the kids try to stay out of danger and out of the doghouse while trying to save the president from attack-or maybe not.
I picked this book up totally on a whim when I saw it under the advertisement “Great Reads in the Summer” at the bookstore (I picked this book up sometime in late July or early August). I thought it looked funny, mostly because of the title. The authors name seemed familiar, but it wasn’t until after I purchased the book that I figured out where I had actually read books by this author before. I remember reading Peter and the Starcatchers when it first came out and I was quite surprised that Barry would write a humor book (I wasn’t very familiar with his career as a humorist author) as I remember Peter and the Starcatchers being rather serious. Regardless, knowing that I have read this author’s books before (and I did rather enjoy them) makes me all the more hopeful for this book to be good.
For me this book had three winning points: the characters, the wacky storyline, and of course, the humor.
Surprisingly enough I found all of the characters to be likable throughout this book. Sometimes when books focus on humor it comes at the expense of believable, likable characters. The characters that I was most surprised at actually liking were Suzana and Matt. Usually I hate characters like Suzana because people put her on pedestals and treat her like she’s perfect and then she turns out to be made of cardboard. Thankfully Suzana actually contributed a lot to the story and was really the only thing that was carrying this ragtag group of “heroes.” She actually made plans and put them in action. In fact, I really liked the way that Wyatt described her,
“But there were some things you just can’t do, and one of them is tell Suzana Delgado, who you are discovering is basically a Navy SEAL disguised as a got eighth-grade girl, that you’re afraid to go with her to rescue your friend” (pg. 113).
The other character that I usually don’t like is the overly stupid or simple character mostly because they tend to be annoying. However, Matt managed to walk that fine line without crossing it. Throughout the story, he made a bunch of assumptions and then automatically assumed he was correct, but he is pretty much the driver of the entire plot and he did add a lot of the humor so I was able to appreciate the value he added to the story. Despite all of this though, my favorite character by far was the taxi cab driver who thought about nothing but his cab fee. That had to be the funniest part of the book (I can’t tell you much more because that would be a spoiler).
There aren’t a lot of middle school books about field trips and Barry did a great job picking Washington D.C. as the setting. When I visited D.C. it was really easy to walk around everywhere without getting lost, so it was totally believable that the protagonists were able to do that too. Part of me felt bad for the chaperones because they were constantly dealing with these mischievous kids, but on the other hand what do you really expect from bringing a bunch of middle schoolers to Washington D.C.?
With a title like, The Worst Class Trip Ever, I never had any doubt that this would be a book focused more on humor than on story; however I was surprised that there was actually a pretty good story in place, it wasn’t just a hodgepodge of misfortunes happening to the protagonists. Still this book was really funny, but the stakes were really high for the protagonists as well. The author did a good job of balancing humor with a thrilling story.
This wasn’t groundbreaking literature, but it was a quick, light, entertaining read. Overall, I would recommend this book, especially to teachers/future chaperones of field trips. There will be a sequel title The Worst Night Ever to be released April 26, 2016 and I will definitely be giving it a try!
Help support us and independent bookstores by clicking on the links below if you want to buy this book!