Stan’s philosophy has always been to firmly decline anything resembling an adventure. There are just too many things that could go wrong. To date, he’s managed to avoid such horrors as bungee jumping and dancing in public, but now, at the age of twelve, the worst has happened. He’s going on a totally unwanted holiday to Italy with his friend, Felix, and family. In Worst. Holiday. Ever. by Charlie Higson, we join Stan as he grapples with a lengthy personal list of holiday fears, including octopuses, weird toilets, and being beach body ready.
Unable to extricate himself from the invitation, Stan is forced to sample the delights of Italy, to some a place of olive trees, oleander, and fortified farmhouses, but for Stan, a hotbed of crazy drivers and men in small, tight trunks, ‘…the older the men are, the smaller their trunks are.’ An accurate and hilarious observation!
And that’s not all. Felix is only his fifth best friend, they don’t even get on that well, and Felix is being particularly moody. At least Stan’s parents are on the end of the phone to provide some comfort. Except his mum always seems to be ‘frantic with worry,’ constantly warning him of the dangers of foreign travel. Rabid dogs, kidnappers, aggressive seagulls, her list is endless. And his dad is constantly berating him for being ‘so bloody shy.’ No wonder poor Stan struggles with the feeling that ‘there’s a giant wave about to crash over me,’ assuming that he has a literal fear of tsunamis when perceptive readers will guess it may be so much more.
When a genuine emergency suddenly strikes his family back home in London, the beleaguered youngster has to summon the strength to cope with catastrophes both real and imagined. Higson tells his story with insight, bags of belly laughs, and a lovely dedication to ‘all the shy kids in the world.’
A fabulous book to pack in your suitcase this summer.
Worst. Holiday. Ever. by Charlie Higson is published by Puffin.