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Stranger in Dadland Hardcover – April 1, 2001

3.4 out of 5 stars 5 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Describing a 12-year-old boy's relationship with his divorced, workaholic father, Koss (The Girls) offers witty commentary on the foibles and pretensions of adults, but her story line lacks the punch of her previous novels. John, the narrator, has always spent the annual week in "Dadland" with his older sister, Liz, but this year Liz has stayed home, refusing to be disappointed again by their "Phantom Father." As he flies alone from Kansas to Los Angeles, John hopes his father won't spend the entire visit in meetings or with yet another girlfriend. But right away Dad introduces a new girlfriend (who paints on her eyebrows, cracks gum and sings along to embarrassing Musak) and then he disappears for a day's worth of appointments. Dad can't even offer a word of comfort when Mom calls with the news that John's dog has died. By phone, Liz switches from angry to wise, counseling John that perhaps their dad "wants to be a good father but he's just entirely clueless." Koss is hilarious on Los Angeles, the behavior of people in office buildings and the adults' preoccupations with hot restaurants, expensive cars, etc., and John's delivery proves once again the author's unusual insight into middle-graders and their concerns. In the end, however, she lets the father off far too easily and whitewashes the well-built conflicts. Ages 10-up.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

From School Library Journal

Gr 5-7-Twelve-year-old John is off to spend a week with his father in California. He has never made the trip alone before, having previously traveled with his older sister. However, this year, Liz has declared that she has no desire to visit "dadland," no wish to spend yet another week hoping that their father will take time from his busy schedule to actually pay attention to his children. John's visit doesn't get off to an auspicious start-Dad has a new girlfriend and an endless round of meetings, but when he has a skateboarding accident, everything changes and the two learn a great deal about their relationship. Koss's lightweight, adolescent problem novel gains much from her ability to hone in on the perceptions and language of young people. Although the contemporary jargon may soon become pass‚, right now there are many kids who will understand and appreciate John's predicament exactly the way he tells it.-Sharon Grover, Arlington County Department of Libraries, VA

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 10 and up
  • Grade Level: 5 and up
  • Lexile Measure: 590L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 128 pages
  • Publisher: Dial (April 1, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0803725639
  • ISBN-13: 978-0803725638
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 0.6 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #6,652,784 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
In this realistic and witty novel, Koss describes the tenuous relationship between twelve year old Kansan John and his divorced father during his yearly one-week visit with him in Los Angeles, or "Dadland" as his older sister describes it. This year big sister opts out of the visit; she has been disappointed one too many times by their "Phantom Father." However, John has high hopes that this time he and his dad will be able to spend some bonding time together. The father's girlfriend and his apartment have changed since the last visit, but little else has. As John explains to one of his father's neighbors, "If it's like all the other trips, the plan is that my dad works all the time and stays busy. And I either tag along, bored to death, or sit and wait, bored to death." John does manage to have some fun with two friends he makes in L.A.; Beau, who lives in the same complex, and Iris, the niece of his dad's girlfriend. Just as the week is nearing the end, John's dad injures his knee, leaving him at home to recuperate with John there to help. The father's knee is not the only thing that begins to heal during this time. John learns about his dad's own distant father and realizes that his dad cares for him much more than he has been able to demonstrate. When John leaves for Kansas, he plans to come out for another visit in six months to continue his newfound relationship with his dad. Readers in middle school should find his novel engaging, especially those who face similar family issues as John.
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Format: Hardcover
This book begins with a twelve year old boy flying alone for the first time. The reader soon learns that John is going to California to visit his father for a week. His sister Liz has decided to skip the summer trip this year because of her "Phantom Father". Once John arrives he is immediately introduced to Dad's girlfriend, Cora. The book basically involves John being left behind at home or in business lobbies while his father works. If his dad is around, so is Cora. About halfway through the book, I had predicited the ending. Dad and John do spend a day together, and Dad gets hurt. John takes care of him, and the two become closer. John isn't quite ready to leave when his week with his dad is over, but he does. After reading the book, I wondered if John and his dad would have become closer if Dad had not hurt himself. Will dad still work all of the time when John visits next time? I do think that Dad was let off way to easily in this book. I gave this book three stars because of the way John told the story (I can relate to a middle school child dealing with divorced parents). However, the ending dissapointed me.
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Format: Hardcover
The title of our book is " A Stranger in Dadland." This book was really interesting. It was written where younger children and older adults could enjoy it. The book is set in California, andis based on a father - son relationship. The relationship is not one of the greatest, because the father does not have time. The brother and sister nicknamed their visit to see their father "Dadland" where the only thing they see is his life. This book is a great learning tool, with students who's parents are divorced, or students that do not have a great relationship with one of their parents. For teachers, the book gives great examples of signs to look for and help. " A Stranger in Dadland" is a great book and a good read.
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A Kid's Review on January 21, 2003
Format: Hardcover
The book is about a kid named John that lives with his mom and sister.He's twelve years old and his dad lives in L.A. Every summer he goes to visit his dad and hopes that he can have a little "dad time" with him.
John is disappointed every summer because every time he goes to see his dad to L.A. his dad is busy doing his work and doesn't have time for him.John now is really tired of having to be without his dad and he feels like a stranger in dadland.
I rated this book 4 stars because it was a really nice book to read and you learn that want to have fun with you but you need to give them time and not get mad at them because if they don't work then you wouldn't have a house or food to eat.
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A Kid's Review on June 9, 2004
Format: Hardcover
The author's purpose for writing this wonderful book was not just to entertain the reader but to inform them about real life situations. This novel shows how strong dislikes can become strong likes. This brilliant book makes many points that reach across to the reader. Amy Goldman Koss brings her characteristic blend of humor and sadness that lead to a summer vacation that might be the first "real" vacation for John and his father. John lives with his mother and sister in Kansas. He always visits his dad once a year in Los Angeles, California ( aka Dadland) around the summer time. John never gets what he wishes for every time he visits. Just spending some time with his dad is all he's asking for. But when he meets his dad's girlfriend cora, who goes with them everywhere, he refuses to give up without a fight. He's sick of feeling like " a stranger in dadland." Beau, his next door neighbor, is John's resource for knowing everyhing about his dad. When John finally gets what he wants, his dad gets hurt and he has to get taken to the hospial. His "splendid" time turned into a miserable time. John care less because he gets to spend more time with his dad by taking care of him. His wish was granted. Soon enough John was heading back home to Kansas. This entertaining and amazing book has so many real life situations that a person can relate to. Children who love to read interesting and funny novels should definitely read Stranger in Dadland.
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