Dan Versus Nature

384p. ebook available. Candlewick. Apr. 2016. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780763670719.
Gr 10 Up—Dan Weekes, a budding graphic novelist, and his geeky, germophobic best friend, Charlie, are just trying to survive high school, their main goal being not getting beat up by the jocks. Meanwhile, Dan's mother has made a point of dating almost every man in California. Then she meets Hank, to whom she gets engaged before Dan even meets him. The teen's first impression is that Hank is the living version of Wolverine, leaving him checking his hand for fractured bones after their initial handshake. For Dan's 16th birthday, his mom gets him two tickets to go on a wilderness adventure to bond with Hank. To make matters worse, Dan is assigned to take Baby-Real-A-Lot (a mechanical baby) the same week as the trip. Dan convinces Charlie to go on the trip, with Charlie coming up with a series of increasingly raunchy pranks designed to scare Hank off from marrying Dan's mom. Calame throws a twist in when Penelope, a smart and adorkable teen, and her mother end up on the same trip. Full of uproariously funny scenes and foul language typical of today's teens, this is a journey through the wilderness that readers will never forget. The pranks include doctored-up chili, doe urine, rainbow barf, and an unplanned stalker. Under the surface, Calame touches on deeper issues, including Dan's absent father, Hank's own father issues, jealousy, and expectations of what makes a family.
VERDICT Perfect for the most reluctant of readers, this book is a sure-fire hit.

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