The Vacation by Polly Horvath 

Henry’s parents are embarking on a pretend “missionary” trip to Africa, leaving him hopeless with his two vicious aunts. Aunt Pigg and Aunt Magnolia are women blessed with highly unfortunate names, but that doesn’t stop them from completely changing Henry’s life. Aunt Magnolia becomes deathly ill, and her sudden illness causes her to think about herself, as she lays on the couch nearly dying. She turns forty and starts to crave a life-changing experience. Struck by a rather early mid-life crisis, she decides that Henry, Pigg, and herself will leave, effective immediately, on a spur of the moment road trip without any particular agenda or mapping. This unexpected three-month excursion brings a hilarious amount of grumpy travel bickering, missed turns, and Henry even floats misguidedly down a Florida swamp, lurking with alligators and crocodiles! The author does an excellent job of capturing the beauty (and the inevitable pains) of road travel, while giving you a heart-warming giggle.

Modoc by Ralph Helfer

Bram and Modoc entered the world on the same day, sharing the meaningful connection of a birthday. They both loved to frolic around the large family farm, and were each other’s best friend. Their only differences were species, for Bram was a boy, and Modoc a circus elephant. Heartbreakingly, the circus eventually was sold to an American business man with plIMG_0335ans to take all of the animals, including Modoc, to his home country. Bram, devastated, couldn’t let his elephant go, and embarked on a journey around the world to stay with his best friend.

*I recommend this book on Bram’s and Modoc’s tale to ages above 13, for it entails some descriptive romance.