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By the Side of the Road Hardcover – April 29, 2002


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Hardcover, April 29, 2002
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 59 pages
  • Publisher: Hyperion (April 29, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0756793718
  • ISBN-13: 978-0756793715
  • Product Dimensions: 8.9 x 7.4 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #337,773 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Master cartoonist and author Jules Feiffer takes a common family scenario and plays it out to the hilarious end in his delightful, over-the-top picture book By the Side of the Road. "'If you don't behave,' my father said, 'I'm gonna pull over right here, and you can wait by the side of the road till we come and get you.'" Little brother Rudy decides to cooperate, while older brother Richard chooses to wait by the side of the road: "An hour later I was kind of used to it. Two hours later it was where I wanted to live." Three hours later, his family comes back for him, but he's not ready to go. He's not ready the next time, either, but does accept a hamburger. And a sweater. Eventually, he is living full-time by the side of the road, aided by mother and father only occasionally dropping by with a poncho or a snowsuit, or a house, tutor, and generator, depending upon the season. Richard's elaborate tunnel system for storing "secret stuff" from comic books to "bottles thrown out of car windows" is straight out of every child's wildest dreams, as is his mock-Thoreau-style existence, free from grumpy dad and family rules (but well stocked with computer games and other essentials).

Throughout this outlandish scenario (Richard grows up and has his own family, still by the side of the road, later to be joined by his elderly parents), we think about discipline ("The way he said it made me unlearn the lesson I was right then in the middle of learning"), about family ("Sometimes you have to make concessions"), about independence, about dependence ("I'm hungry and I'm cold"), about loneliness, and about self-sufficiency. Feiffer's expressive, fluid drawings capture every motion and emotion with just the right lines, making this crazy run-on picture book a rousing success. (Ages 7 and older) --Karin Snelson --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

On a two-hour car ride, Richard wrestles with his brother in the backseat despite his parents' angry glances. He reports the incident in disaffected sentences, while duotone images picture his refusal to heed the threats. " `If you don't behave,' my father said, `I'm gonna pull over right here and you can wait by the side of the road till we come and get you.'... Who likes to be pushed around? `I think I'll wait by the side of the road,' I said." After his family drives away, Richard isn't afraid. In fact, he enjoys the grassy shoulder. When his scowling, heavy-set father returns and snarls, "Learned your lesson yet, wise guy?" the boy coolly chooses his own destiny: "The way he said it made me unlearn the lesson I was right then in the middle of learning." He goes on living by the highway, where he digs a system of caves and becomes the envy of other children. It becomes apparent that the child has abandoned his parents, instead of the other way around, as Richard's disempowered mother and father humbly bring provisions for his new home. Whereas Feiffer's I'm Not Bobby! described a boy's noisy defiance in assertive statements and an oversize scrawl, this compact, horizontal-format book conveys equally intense passion in a quieter way. The cinematic sequence of blurred, ink-wash illustrations traces Richard's independent life into adulthood and concludes on an absurd but credibly contented note. All ages.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Customer Reviews

There is no plot, no story.
Kriss Conley
He becomes enslaved to the idea of defying inequity even when it no longer exists.
Rebecca Leibowitz
Bad part is it could have been told in a shorter book.
Brad Dillman

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Roz Levine on November 5, 2002
Format: Hardcover
"I was fooling around in the backseat of the car with my little brother, Rudy..." So begins Richard's simple story of how he ended up living his life "by the side of the road." One thing led to another, as it usually does on a long car trip, until his father finally issued that well known and well worn ultimatum: "If you don't behave, I'm gonna pull over right here, and you can wait by the side of the road till we come and get you." But this time when his father pulled the car on to the shoulder and stopped, Richard decided to call his bluff and get out. And there he stood, by the side of the road. At first he was a little nervous, standing there. "An hour later I was kind of used to it. Two hours later it was where I wanted to live. Better than my house at least, where my mother and father were always telling me what to do." When his parents come back to take him home, he decides he likes it right where he is, and chooses to stay. As hours pass to days, then weeks, months, and eventually years, no one can convince Richard to go back home, and he makes quite a nice life for himself by the side of the road..... Jules Feiffer offers the ultimate childhood fantasy in this clever and engaging picture book. His straighforward text, with its deadpan delivery is secondary to the marvelous cartoon-like, black and white illustrations, and each page is filled with playful wit, expressive detail, and emotion. Unfortunately, Mr Feiffer goes a bit too far and too long, detailing Richard's entire roadside life, and concludes with a weak ending that detracts from an otherwise charming fantasy. Perfect for youngsters 10 and older, By The Side Of The Road is worth a read just for the artwork, and will delight kids with its intriguing, though unrealistic possibilities.
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By Brad Dillman on January 25, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Very cute idea...very great premise. Bad part is it could have been told in a shorter book.
It's just too long. My kids lose interest a few pages after the boy is on the side of the road.
I get it...but it could have done the same job/purpose faster/shorter.
my opinion - good for kids 10+ but it reads for kids younger. Adults will like it...it's written for us really.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Sonja C. Griffin on September 16, 2009
Format: Hardcover
My two boys were 7 and 8 years old when we came across his book. They looked a bit puzzled when I started reading it to them, then became fascinated. They love this book!
I think the appeal is many-fold.
First, the parents are depicted as real people, much less than perfect, yet they do sincerely care about their children.
Then, of course, kids love to fantasize about actually taking charge of their lives and doing what THEY want. Of getting away with being truly defiant.
Also, this book is wonderfully unpredictable. There are multiple unexpected turns of events. And it all turns out well in the end.
I don't see any risk of my children thinking this book is a model for real life. They know it is a flight of fantasy, yet it is uncannily realistic and accepting in its depiction of how the protagonist experiences his life and how he feels about it.
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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Rebecca Leibowitz on May 22, 2003
Format: Hardcover
The book sends mixed messages to children. What starts out as a message about empowerment and choosing one's own destiny, disintegrates into the opposite. The story is about a boy who chooses to be left on the side of the road rather than, depending on how you look at it, behave during a car ride, OR endure verbal abuse from a father with poor parenting skills.
The boy uses peaceful social protest to produce an end to tyranny. Ultimately, his parents are both upset and repentent (bringing the boy food, clothing and shelter). The boy, however, goes too far and becomes fanatical and self absorbed. He becomes enslaved to the idea of defying inequity even when it no longer exists. Instead of choosing a home and the company of friends and family, the boy chooses isolation, dwelling in a cave and takes satisfaction in a collection of articles about serial killers.
At the end of the story the boy grows up and he has a wife, kids, and his parents living with him in the cave. His brother has established his own "more modern" cave in Seattle. What started out as a celebration of independant thinking ends with all the characters thinking alike. The book ends with a single thought, "Thank God" all the cave dwellers say when they return to their home. Thank God for what?
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More About the Author

Jules Feiffer lives in New York City with his wife, Jenny. Along with being a famed cartoonist, Feiffer is also the author of numerous novels, children's books, plays and screenplays, including Carnal Knowledge, Harry, The Rat with Women and Little Murders, which was made into a celebrated movie.