Read The Small Adventure of Popeye and Elvis by Barbara O'Connor Online


Nothing ever happens in Fayette, South Carolina. That's what Popeye thinks, anyway. His whole life, everything has just been boring, boring, boring. But things start to look up when the Jewells' Holiday Rambler makes a wrong turn and gets stuck in the mud, trapping Elvis and his five rowdy siblings in Fayette for who knows how long. Popeye has never met anyone like Elvis JNothing ever happens in Fayette, South Carolina. That's what Popeye thinks, anyway. His whole life, everything has just been boring, boring, boring. But things start to look up when the Jewells' Holiday Rambler makes a wrong turn and gets stuck in the mud, trapping Elvis and his five rowdy siblings in Fayette for who knows how long. Popeye has never met anyone like Elvis Jewell. He's so good at swearing he makes Uncle Dooley look like a harp-strumming angel, and he says "So what?" like he really means it. Then something curious comes floating down the creek—a series of boats with secret messages—and it sends Popeye and Elvis into the big world on the hunt for a small adventure.With a healthy helping of humor and the signature Southern charm that has captivated children and critics alike, Barbara O'Connor's newest tale is a heartwarming look at the joy that can come out of being a Royal Rule Breaker, and learning to find one's own adventures....

Title : The Small Adventure of Popeye and Elvis
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780374370558
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 160 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

The Small Adventure of Popeye and Elvis Reviews

  • Betsy
    2019-05-10 09:11

    American children grow up reading so many good British novels that sometimes it's hard to conjure up similar books of a Yankee nature. Maybe that's why I like Barbara O'Connor so much. Fantasy fans are forever searching for the next great American fantasy novel, but I for one am forever on a search for the next great American realistic children's book. And certainly The Small Adventure of Popeye and Elvis probably owes more to The Adventures of Tom Sawyer than The Railway Children when you read its plot and cadences. Small and unassuming, O'Connor appears to be honing her craft with each book she writes. This latest is simply one of her best.Boredom comes cheap in Fayette, South Carolina. If Popeye could sell it he'd be a rich boy by now. After all, there's very little to keep him interested this summer. Living with his grandmother and his dog, life doesn't really perk up until a Holiday Rambler filled to the brim with a loud, squabbling, exciting family gets stuck in a nearby mud patch. Popeye quickly befriends Elvis, a boy about his age, and the two decide that what they need is a small adventure. It's simply perfect that such an adventure presents itself to the two when boats made out of Yoo-Hoo cartons start sailing down the nearby creek carrying cryptic messages. Who's sending them? What do they mean? And will the boys be able to solve the mystery before Elvis's Rambler is removed from the mud at last?How do you make a book about nothing interesting? It's sort of the quandary the TV show Seinfeld posed when the characters wanted to make their own television show about nothing. Seinfeld is about as far as you can get from Popeye and Elvis in terms of story and structure, but in both cases they deal with the everyday mundane aspects of our lives. The trick is to stay true to the material and yet still have enough story and character development to make it fun. Maybe Barbara O'Connor has this hidden burning need to write about space monsters and shiny vampires, but somehow I doubt it. At some point in her life she realized that she had a gift. She makes ordinary folks heroes in very human ways.Ms. O'Connor has other gifts as well, mind you. For example, she is an exemplary example of economy in writing. I've always sort of believed that the less words you use, while still staying on point, the better writer you are (which makes these gigantic reviews I write all the more ironic, I guess). If you look at easy readers you realize that folks like Dr. Seuss and Arnold Lobel had a gift. Early chapter books are just as hard, in some ways. You can't spend pages and pages talking about motivation. Character and personality has to be shown, not told. Here's a brilliant example, with three characters introduced at once, with not a single word out of place:"Popeye needed Velma to not crack up because no one else in his family was very good at taking care of things. Not his father, who lived up in Chattanooga and sold smoke-damaged rugs out of the back of a pickup truck. Not his mother, who came and went but never told anybody where she came from or where she went to. And definitely not his uncle Dooley, who lived in a rusty trailer in the backyard and sometimes worked at the meatpacking plant and sometimes sold aluminum siding and sometimes watched TV all day."She's the Bailey White of children's literature. She has a distinctive voice, which is so hard to find sometimes. Read enough children's books and they all start to run together in your brain. Not O'Connor. Whether she's defining the term avuncular, describing the interior of the Holiday Rambler ("Beside the booth was a tiny television, strapped to the wall with a bungee cord") or just adding in little human moments ("Elvis punched him in the arm with a knuckle") she just seems to know how to pick and choose her words. When I grow up, I want to write just like Barbara O'Connor.Which brings me to yet another trademark O'Connorism: class. Her characters are people with real jobs who get by and don't have the option of just leaving all their troubles behind. Popeye lives with his grandmother and they make do, but it's in a pretty remote area. The kind of place where a stuck RV is going to be the biggest news going on in a long time. Previous O'Connor novels had similar characters and situations. How to Steal a Dog (one of my favorites) examined homelessness and, to a certain extent, how bad situations cause good people to make bad choices. Greetings from Nowhere (a big hit with the kids' bookgroup I run) involved motels and the people who both visit and run them. There's something nice about reading a Barbara O'Connor book and knowing that you're not going to have to deal with stereotypical tropes like "if this character lives in a trailer park, you know they're evil" and the like. Her folks don't have a lot of money. Neither do a lot of folks in the country right now. Makes sense.Problems with this book? Dunno. I'm usually pretty good at coming up with some kind of an objection to any given title. But maybe too much time has passed between my reading this and my reviewing it. When I look at this book now I sort of view it through the blur of deep affection. It's got great lines like "Dead dogs live here", great characters portrayed with just the right amount of words, and a plot that's interesting in a small, simple way. It's funny not to find something to compare this to, but The Small Adventure of Popeye and Elvis really is its own unique little beast. An early chapter book that just works. I hope it gets the attention it deserves. Ages 7-11.

  • Joe Bolin
    2019-05-18 08:35

    I just read this book aloud to my fourth grade class a second time (new class but the same age group) and it held up very well: still deserves all five stars! This time around, I added a new activity and picked up boxes of Yoo-Hoo at Dollar Tree. The children drank the Yoo-Hoo while I read the last three chapters and then we made boats just like Starletta! A great way to start the school year.

  • Kirby
    2019-05-03 05:17

    I don't know anyone who does a better job of leaving white space in a story than Barbara O'Connor. I study her books over and over to help me learn how to weave in backstory and to learn what to leave out. She says so much with spare, perfectly chosen words.I loved this story of Popeye's "small" adventure and being immersed in his life. I admire the way we are set inside of homes that might be a little non-traditional but where you feel right to home. And I finished the book with a contented little sigh. . and the strong urge to go make a Yoo-Hoo boat.

  • Allison
    2019-05-22 11:25

    Seven reasons to love this book:1. The short lived Spit and Swear Club2. Yoo-hoo boats3. Secret messages4. A dog named BOO!5. The chronological recitation of the Kings and Queens of England6. The Holiday Rambler and a whole bunch of mud7. Popeye, Elvis, Calvin, Prissy, Walter, Willis, Shorty, and Princess Starletta Rainey

  • Barb Middleton
    2019-05-07 11:38

    Barbara O'Connor has quite a gift with words. The cadence of the sentences using repetition, sounds, and great voice, hooked me into the story from page one. Interestingly, not much happens in this story and for an impatient reader like myself it says a lot when I can't put a realistic fiction book down because I'm so engrossed in the setting and character voices. Popeye makes a temporary friend with Elvis who lives in a mobile trailer with a family of eight that has become stuck in the mud by his house. Popeye lives with his overprotective Grandma Velma, and uncle that is in and out of jail. He is bored and wants an adventure. When he and Elvis find floating boats in the nearby creek with messages, they track down the writer of them.At first I thought this would be a good read aloud because of the beautiful writing, but the content has name calling and adults swatting kids. It is a part of the book's humor, but I just had a 4th grader name-calling and hurting other students feelings in my library. As an educator, I don't want to reinforce bad behavior, but the reality of life is that people name-call and you have to deal with it. In this story the name-calling is a part of the humor such as when Elvis calls his brother "A toe-jam tattletale." When they form the Spit and Swear Club it reminded of the time my brothers taught me some swear words. The author captures Popeye's thrill at doing something he knows he shouldn't be doing quite well. "Then the boy let loose with a string of the most amazing and wonderful swearwords that ...made [Uncle] Dooley look like a harp-strumming angel." I like that the book is not didactic but it will require some discussion as a classroom read aloud.The families are poor and live in South Carolina, although Popeye is not illiterate. Their accents have them complaining about the "dern rain" or exclaiming "What in the name of sweet Bernice in heaven is that?" or kids calling each other "hog-stinkin' sack of nothin'" Popeye gets a vocabulary word each week from Velma that is challenging. He applies it to his situations as he tries to determine right from wrong. After reading hundreds of books that use this technique of defining words to young readers, I find it has become cliched for me and annoying. It is well done so it might not bother you, but personally I am tired of the technique.Popeye's character is one that just follows Elvis who has an attitude and prides himself in not caring what adults think of him. While Elvis bucks authority figures, Popeye finds this an entirely new experience as he disobeys Velma in his quest to find the floating boat-maker. Velma responds to Popeye's disobedience by just swatting him, versus talking about what he is doing. I kept waiting for some revelation at the end where Velma finally sits down and asks Popeye what was going on, but she never does. While her high vocabulary suggests she's smart, her actions show otherwise. Her disinterest, while realistic, left me wondering what the character arc of Popeye was throughout the novel. I think it is that he is no longer bored because he makes a friend with Scarletta.A funny character trait that Velma has it that she recites the kings and queens of England so she won't "crack up." This play on words throughout the story adds terrific irony because Velma means that she doesn't want to get dementia and lose her mind but her life situation is "cracked up" from her daughter and husband that abandoned their son Popeye for her to raise. Toss in Velma's irresponsible son, Dooley, that accidentally shot Popeye in the eye with a BB gun when he was three and that is in-and-out of trouble with the law, and the reader realizes most would be crazy dealing with all the troubles she has on her doorstep. A book that will make you "Yoo-hoo."

  • paula
    2019-05-17 03:23

    Sweet. Sweet, and full of mud. That's a nice combination, kind of like T.R. Pearson for kids. Also, any book involving kids and a creek (at least one in which none of the kids drown - I am still not over Bridge to Terabithia) usually gets me breathing a little deeper. Know what I'm saying? No? Hm.Popeye lives in a crappy old house that backs onto the woods in semi-rural Fayette, South Carolina. His parents are off somewhere and he is being raised by his overprotective grandma Velma. He is on the verge of possibly petrifying with boredom when an RV full of disheveled kids breaks down on his doorstep. The oldest of the kids, Elvis, has an insouciant manner and a thirst for adventure that Popeye soon successfully emulates, even though it means disobeying Velma's progressively specific decrees. Popeye and Elvis never do anything really bad, nor do they put themselves in any danger, and by the end of the book it seems clear that Velma becomes willing to give Popeye a little more rope. I think it's interesting that Barbara O'Connor allows this straining at the boundaries to be a positive thing - in a middle grade book, not YA.This is a short, funny piece of realistic fiction that will play to both boys and girls from 2nd grade on up. It's got a nice sense of space, and the environments, from Elvis's family's crowded RV to the quiet, humid woods, are beautifully written, with well-chosen details that bring them to life without bogging things down with too much description.

  • Becky
    2019-05-06 07:22

    I loved this book. It is the best Barbara O'Connor book yet. I loved the writing, the characters, the setting, the story. And it all works together...perfectly. And I loved the built-in vocabulary lessons. Readers of this book will be impressing their elders with words like "vicissitude" and "serendipity" and "avuncular".It's summer in Fayette, South Carolina and it's been raining for days. You can feel the agonizing boredom and loneliness that weigh down Popeye. But the rain finally stops, Popeye steps outside, and just around the bend in the road is a stuck-in-the-mud motor home--full of a bunch of squabbling kids. Popeye's small adventure is about to begin. Popeye is being raised by his grandmother, the only responsible adult in his family. All the characters in the book are very poor. But the poverty and absent parents and good-for-nothing uncles are just the backdrop for the story...not part of the plot. Refreshing.

  • Carol N
    2019-05-03 10:30

    Just finished this quirky, sweet and full of mud children's book on the recommendation of my "books- bud" - Joe. This is a short, funny piece of realistic fiction that plays to both boys and girls. It's set in the small rural town of Fayette, South Carolina and deals with the unexpected friendship of Popeye and Elvis. Popeye's parents are off somewhere and he is being raised by his overprotective grandma Velma. He is on the verge of boredom when an RV full of disheveled kids breaks down at his doorstep. The oldest of the kids, Elvis, has a thirst for adventure that Popeye soon successfully emulates. Popeye and Elvis never do anything really bad, nor do they put themselves in any danger, and by the end of the book it seems clear that Popeye's life is changing for the better. Who won't like to spend his/her summer trailing into the woods, along a creek, finding boats with secret messages. Yoohoo!

  • Peg
    2019-04-30 08:25

    Barbara O'Connor knows how to tell a story about ordinary folks. Not much is happening in Popeye's NC town and it looks like a long boring summer stretching out before him. Enter Elvis and his family, whose silver rambler gets stuck in the mud outside Popeye's grandmother's house. Popeye envies Elvis' lifestyle and bravado, particularly since he takes to heart his grandmother's constant rants and raves. The small adventure is truly small, but just right for a couple boys on summer vacation. There's a slight mystery as we travel the paths in the woods with these boys. The strength is the characterization, as we get to know Velma, Starletta, and most especially, Elvis.

  • Danielle
    2019-05-14 10:37

    My South Carolinian mother and I cracked up at a couple of things: "A Hogstinkin' sack of nothin'? That was a good an insult as Popey ahd heard in a long time. He made a mental note to remember it." and "I swear, if that husband of mine had an idea, it would die of lonliness." Certainly phrases to be remembered and used frequently. :)All in all, super fun to listen to - not so much for the scope of the "adventure" (after all, it is only a small adventure) but the voice of our narrator Popeye is just so endearing and relatable.

  • Colby Sharp
    2019-05-24 08:19

    I LOVE this book. A fourth grader kept coming up to me last week, trying to tell what was going on in this book. Every couple of pages he would come up to me, so excited to share what had just happened. By the 24th time he approached me: I had to ban him from talking about this book with me until I read it. In a one sitting reading this weekend I found out why this book had my student so excited. I can't wait to talk Popeye and Elvis with a very cool fourth grader tomorrow morning.

  • Steph Su
    2019-05-10 10:34

    Nothing against the writing, or whatever. I just didn't feel like there was much going on at all, even though there was a small adventure and boats with cryptic notes inside. The "small Southern town in America" setting and feel of the book was difficult for my EL410 students to digest. However, even though at first my students thought the book was boring, they soon became interested in the "adventure," some of them going so far as to finish reading the book early.

  • Erin
    2019-05-03 08:10

    If you want to read a book aloud to your child, skip this one. Besides being mostly boring, I felt like the characters were pretty awful examples--they had a "spitting and swearing" club, Popeye was dishonest and disobedient several times to his Grandma (legal guardian) and then tried to think up sneaky exuses to justify his lie, Elvis' favorite phrase to adults and kids alike was "so what." With so many other great books out there, don't waste your time with this one.

  • Ann
    2019-05-22 04:17

    Popeye's world expands when Elvis and his eccentric family come to Fayette, SC. Young readers who yearn for adventure may look more closely at what might be possible in their own worlds as they journey with Popeye and his new friend. O'Connor wisely gives enough nonverbal clues so readers can think through Popeye's feelings on their own instead of choosing to spell everything out for them.

  • Ann
    2019-05-07 09:28

    I LOVE the writing of Barbara O'Connor!! She always brings such wonderful characters and unique situations in her stories. I particularly liked Velma's words to prevent "cracking up" and who wouldn't love YOO HOO!!!

  • Kathy
    2019-05-24 11:20

    Perfect little gem of a book. Rural south with dysfunctional families and wonderful vocabulary words dropped into the story. Never knew why I wanted to know English royalty in order!

  • Grace Lin
    2019-04-29 09:24

    From the size of the actual book (it's just a bit smaller than standard, perfect for smaller hands) to the characters to the storyline and vocabulary words this book is charming, charming, charming.

  • Stacey
    2019-05-09 06:30

    Great book for obvious character development. Fun story. Would read again with another group.

  • Autumn
    2019-05-18 07:24

    We loved this book. It is a great read-aloud. The main character learns useful vocabulary words that readers can relate to. The story is sweet and simple and magical in that way the sweet and simple can be when you are young.

  • Maribeth Tomas
    2019-05-17 06:22

    Junior Books ProjectCategory: Realistic FictionSource: Dr. KimmelThis adventure book is great for students between grades 4-6. In this book Popeye lives a boring life in Fayette, South Carolina with his dog, Boo, and uncle and grandma. Popeye does the same boring stuff everyday until a Holiday Rambler gets stuck in a muddy ditch and he meets the family who lives in it. Popeye befriends one of the boys, Elvis, and together they go walking through the woods. Popeye looks up to Elvis. He loves Elvis' "so-what" attitude and how Elvis has so many great insults. Out of nowhere, they see a boat floating down the creek made from a Yoo-Hoo carton. Inside the boat is a note. Elvis and Popeye find several of these boats over a number of days and are determined to find out where the boats are coming from. When they meet the little girl who has been making these boats, she shows them a dog graveyard. Popeye couldn't believe that all this time living in boring Fayette, something so cool like a dog graveyard was right in his backyard past the woods. When Elvis' family's Holiday Rambler gets unstuck, it's a bitter sweet moment for Popeye. He wonders if he'll ever have as much fun as he did with Elvis once he leaves, but Popeye knows that one thing he can count on is reminiscing about the small adventure he and Elvis had together.The front of the jacket has a picture of Elvis and Popeye spotting the Yoo-Hoo boat floating down the creek in the woods. There aren't very many colors used for the illustration, but one color that pops out is the green that is used to color the trees. It is a very dark hunter green and it takes up almost half the page. The title and the author's name are listed at the top of the book. If you open up the book to look at the full jacket, you see that the illustration from the front continues onto the back. There is also an insert of a part in the book where Popeye helps Glory, Elvis's mom, out with some country lyrics on the back of the jacket. If you open up the book, the left flap has a summary of the story and the right flap has a small bio of the author and some praise for her other book "Greetings from Nowhere."I really enjoyed this book. I liked how there were definitions of words Popeye learned from his grandma throughout the book. Not only were there definitions, but there was a sentence right after that used the word. I got to learn a couple new words from this. My favorite is loquacious, meaning talkative. I told my husband that night I read that part that he was loquacious haha. A great activity to use with this book is a vocabulary activity with the words Popeye learned from Velma. You can also do a history lesson about the Kings and Queens of England. A science activity about water density, floating and sinking, and create their own boats.

  • Ed
    2019-05-16 08:10

    O’Connor, Barbara. (2009). The Small Adventure of Popeye and Elvis. New York: Farrar, Straus, & Giroux/Frances Foster Books. 150 pp. ISBN 978-0-374-37055-8 (Hardcover); $16.99.When one is a young boy in a small South Carolina town, one does not expect big adventures to come his way. If Popeye and Elvis are lucky, they will have a small adventure. They even spend hours trying to drum up a small adventure in this small southern community, filled with mud, gravel, dirt roads, and woods. Popeye received his name when his uncle Dooley shot him in the eye with a BB gun. He spends his time attempting to keep his grandmother Velma from cracking up, lest he be placed under the control of less adept relatives, such as uncle Dooley. When Elvis Jewell’s Holiday Rambler gets stuck in the mud, Popeye and Elvis seek adventure. Popeye is enchanted with Elvis who has an arsenal of “bug-brain booger breath” insults that Popeye, who is working on building his vocabulary would love to own. Using vocabulary words as a part of the story is not unique, but O’Connor uses this device well and it is NOT done just to please adult readers—it matches Popeye’s personality and his family (with a grandmother who runs around worried about dementia and reciting the names of the royal family and doing crosswords to keep from cracking up). The vocabulary words also serve as a measure of the loneliness and restlessness of Popeye. It is clear to the reader that Popeye will not always stay in Fayette even though this is never mentioned in the text (although he may return to Fayette after getting out into the world for an even bigger adventure). This book shows that step of learning how to reminisce and how that will eventually lead Popeye into seeking newer and bigger adventures. The language of the book feels correctly southern, which adds to its authenticity and its appeal. During an expedition along the creek, the boys discover a small adventure floating their way in the form of Yoo-hoo boats. When they finally meet wing-wearing Princess Starletta Rainey, they may not even realize that their small adventure has graduated. The voice in this book, the setting, the pacing is crisp and vivid. I would not be at all sorry or surprised to see this one receive awards this January. While this book is intended for middle school and younger, the writing is sophisticated enough for older students too.

  • Thomas
    2019-05-13 09:20

    Connor, Barbara. The small adventure of Popeye and Elvis. New York: Scholastic, 2009. Print.Popeye is certain that he lives in the most boring place in the world. But one wrong turn and a stuck tire later, Popeye finds that his world just got a lot more interesting. Popeye wakes up to find a Holiday Rambler stuck in the mud outside of his grandma's house. The moble home belongs to the Jewell's family. The six children are the rowdiest, most filthy-mouthed kids Popeye has ever met. His grandma can't wait till they get their monstrosity fixed and get on their way, but Popeye is having too much fun with the oldest boy Elvis for things to end so soon. The boys don't get to know each other very long, but there is time for a small adventure. They find small toy boats floating down the creek with hidden messages on them. Where are they coming from? What do the messages mean? Popeye and Elvis will do whatever it takes to find out before the Rambler is fixed and the two never see each other again.This novel about a boy's summer adventures would be a great class novel for the beginning of the school year. Fifth and sixth graders would enjoy this quick read: the characters are extremely entertaining and the plot is very simple but without being predictable. Additionally, because the author cleverly interweeves vocabulary lessons from Popeye's grandmother throughout the story, the novel serves as a good way to ease into studies after summer vacation by offering a fun way to integrate vocabulary/spelling lists into lesson plans. The Yoo-hoo boats that play a crucial part in the novel also offer an opportunity for teachers to incorporate art/crafts.

  • M.
    2019-05-05 11:34

    I think this is a book that will grow on me as I think about it. I liked it, but I think I am going to continue to like it more and more as time goes by. How do you write a book about nothing? And make it into something? How do you capture South Carolina back country dialect without making the kids into stereotypes? How can you get so well into the thought processes of 10-year old boys?Popeye lives with his grandmother and his uncle, Dooley, because his father lives somewhere else and his mother "comes and goes but doesn't tell anyone where she's coming from or going to." Popeye is called Popeye because, when he was three, his uncle shot off a gun aiming at something else but he was very bad at aiming. Fayetteville, SC, has roughly nothing going on to interest a 10 year old boy off from school for the summer until a huge RV gets stuck in the mud in the road by his house. The RV is populated by a mostly invisible dad, a country-western song writing mom, and 6 kids of which Elvis is closest to Popeye's age. What kind of adventure can they have?Not much until they find a small boat made from a Yoo Hoo container complete with cryptic message floating down the creek by Popeye's home. More boats with more messages follow and the boys want to find out who is sending them. And so begins their small adventure.How many kids live lives replete with boredom but without the curiosity to have small adventures? Maybe this book will encourage one of those kids to look around and experience some of the small adventures of life.

  • Melissa
    2019-05-04 09:38

    Connor, B. (2009). The Small Adventure of Popeye and Elvis. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux.Fiction Choice - Realistic Fiction; Humorous FictionStarred Review, School Library Journal, Publishers Weekly, Kirkus ReviewsThis is an adventurous and quirky story about a little boy named Popeye who lives with his Grandmother Verna and his "no good" Uncle Dooley in Fayette, North Carolina. Popeye, whose real name is Henry, received the nickname after his Uncle shot him in the eye with a BB gun. Nothing exciting ever seems to happen around where Popeye lives. Until one day, after it had rained for days, a boy named Elvis and his family got stuck in the mud in their motorhome, the "Holiday Rambler," right down the street from Popeye's house. Popeye had never met someone like Elvis, whose bad mouth seemed worse than his Uncle Dooley's. While waiting for someone to help Elvis's dad get the Holiday Rambler out of the mud, Popeye and Elvis start exploring in the woods. In the little creek beside the woods, the boys discover little boats, with messages inside, floating down the creek. Who's making the boats and what do the messages mean? On their adventure, Popeye and Elvis finally make the discovery! I enjoyed reading the story and couldn't wait to find out how the adventure would end! This would be a great book for independent reading for grades 4th through 8th grade.

  • Anna
    2019-05-22 06:17

    I really enjoyed discussing this book with my students (3rd and 4th graders). This is only the second Barbara O'Connor book that I've read, but I have to say that I enjoy the way she portrays children. I can't say her characterization of the children feels entirely accurate, but there's an essence of truth (or maybe nostalgia) that makes her child characters sound like actual children. I'm also a sucker for children's books set in the South. Maybe it's because I've never been to the South, but it sounds both idyllic and strangely heartbreaking to grow up in a small Southern town. I was kind of on the fence about this book as it felt more atmospheric than substantial in it's plot and characters. Like the title says, it's about the small adventures of Popeye and Elvis. (Sure there's more to it than that, but by the end of the book, it's mostly about their summer friendship.) My students' notice and puzzles, however, enhanced my appreciation for the book. The thing with atmospheric books is that they leave a lot of room for students to infer and fill in the blanks. We had a lot of fun trying to figure out Starletta and her family situation (Why does she send those boats? Is she really a princess? Is that why she sent those boys on a quest?), the root of Velma's wrath, and whether not Elvis was a bad influence or if Popeye was his own person and was responsible for his decisions.

  • Kelly
    2019-05-14 07:19

    For me, the best part of this book was the setting. The author mentions that Popeye lives in Fayette, South Carolina, somewhere between Anderson County and Simpsonville. Since I've lived in that area my entire life, I can tell you that there is no Fayette, but the author's description of Popeye's world leads me to believe that he might just live near a little place called Fork Shoals. (Since I'm the librarian at Fork Shoals School, I thought this was pretty cool.)When my students read this book, I can imagine that they'll identify with how and where Popeye lives. Elvis, however, will be an enigma. His nomadic family brought a bit of eccentricity into this book and livened up Popeye's life considerably. (I can tell you from experience that there's not a lot to do in rural South Carolina, so breaks from the norm are a little exciting.) When the two boys go looking for adventure, they find little boats made of Yoo-Hoo cartons traveling down the local creek. Each boat has a message. As Popeye and Elvis try to figure out who is sending the messages and what they mean, they learn a little about each other and the world around them. This is a fun, quick read that I think will appeal to all readers, but especially boys who would often rather roam outside that read a book. It gives them a sense of adventure without ever stepping outside.

  • Arminzerella
    2019-05-13 05:12

    Popeye lives with his grandmother, Velma (who recites the names of the British monarchs – in order – to keep from cracking up), his Uncle Dooley (who accidentally shot him in the eye with a bb gun), and his dog, Boo, in South Carolina. It’s about the most boring place in the world until Elvis shows up with his boisterous siblings in their big silver motor home. Elvis is about Popeye’s age, and the two of them set off to have a small adventure. They’re out by the creek when they discover a tiny boat with a message inside of it. The next day they discover another, and another. Fascinated, the boys decide to find out where the boats (and the messages) are coming from. But, they’re in a bit of a pickle – Popeye’s not really allowed to play in the woods, and Elvis’ motor home could get unstuck at any time. Will they be able to figure out the mystery of the boats before Popeye gets grounded for life or Elvis has to leave?Filled with curious characters and sophisticated vocabulary words (Popeye’s grandma teaches him a fancy new word every week), this tale of a very small adventure is a fun and easy read. Issues, such as Popeye’s absent parents, are only lightly touched upon and don’t overwhelm the story – which is essentially about two boys becoming friends and having a good time. This would make a nice, light summer read for elementary school age boys.

  • Jeanette
    2019-04-30 08:15

    Barbara O'Connor how do I love thee? Let me count the ways. 1. Greetings from Nowhere 2. The Small Adventures of Popeye and Elvis. And, well, that is it because those are the only books I've read by you, yet.To me Barbara O'Connor has this ability to create amazing, vivid, really likable characters. And she puts those characters into settings that are just as wonderful and vivid to read about. But she does both these things without really writing a lot. Does that make sense? You know who these characters are through and through with out being given a ton of back story and explanation. Who they are is conveyed through what they say and do and the setting they are placed in. In addition to this, both of the books I've read by O'Connor have just felt real and almost tangible. Now, there are 3 things that usually line up to make me love a piece of fiction. I love fiction with good characters, good settings; i.e a setting that is almost a character itself and fiction that is realistic. So, that means I have really become a fan of Ms. Barbara O'Connor.I just loved this sweet story about Popeye and I will just say one more time, oh, the characters! The characters! The characters!A great little story of adventure and friendship for every young person and plenty of not so young people too.

  • Megan
    2019-05-20 03:38

    Now anyone who knows me, knows I am a fan of Barbara O'Connor. I am also a sucker for a good southern accent and a backwoods setting. This book has backwoods written all over it and this is what I loved the most!My favorite part of the book is the family in the rambling RV. I wanted to know them. I thought maybe I did know them. Oh, the characters... Gosh, Barbara is so good at character development. I knew all those characters. I put a face with them in a split second. (Or split page) The NAMES, the NAMES, the NAMES! I am always complaining about authors using obscure character names. These were obscure in a perfectly lovely way. The book is short. A quick read. Perfect for that reluctant reader that isn't going to pick up a book over 200 pages, even if paid to do so. Of course there were dogs in this book. But maybe not in the way that you would expect. Knowing a little bit about Barbara O'Connor, this part of the plot just tore me up. Mrs. O'Connor is such a fan of vocabulary. I see that theme in many of her books. There is no exception here. Does it fit? Maybe. That might be my only complaint. Sometimes I wasn't sure the vocabulary added to the story. However, as teacher I have to view vocabulary building as a good thing no matter what.Way to go, my friend. Homerun! Sorry for the rambling post.

  • Karen
    2019-05-20 04:34

    After I put my son to bed, I jump on the computer and check my email and catch up on the blogs I follow. One of those blogs is Barbara O'Connor's Greetings From Nowhere. Barbara is witty, funny, clever, quirky and oh-so-human (see her Cafe Francais saga), so it is no wonder she can breathe life into witty, funny, clever, quirky and oh-so-human characters. In "Small Adventure", Velma recites the kings and queens of England in chronological order. As someone who just crossed the 40-year mark and is a new mom, as I read this part of the book I was thinking this is a great way to keep one's mind sharp. Then I read Popeye's reaction. And it's perfect. And not terribly complimentary. Not only can Barbara O'Connor create characters so real that you think you know them, she can draw you so entirely into a book that you forget it is just a story. By the time I hit the Yoo-hoo boats, there was no retreating. No way I was putting this book down until I met everyone and I found out how this story ended. So go out and buy this book. It's a short story and a fast read and not a single word is wasted. And you'll enjoy re-visiting it for years to come.