The Family Fletcher Takes Rock Island

by Dana Levy

During the Fletchers’ annual August island vacation, Frog, the youngest, is... read more

During the Fletchers’ annual August island vacation, Frog, the youngest, is determined to teach one of their cats to swim. Middle child Eli wants to overcome his fear of kayaking. Sam, the oldest, gets the role of Puck with the local theater group. And Jax, the same age as Eli, makes a new friend in Alex, who is staying next door. There’s a mystery here, with a cheesy, over- the-top villain, but the heart of the story is its relationships. A harsh truth is also revealed when Jax, who is African American, and Alex, who is Latina (and also, to Jax’s surprise once he realizes it, a girl) are accused of theft. The island’s inhabitants and vacationers are predominantly white and it’s clear the kids were targeted because of their brown skin. It’s Jax’s first encounter with overt racism, a sobering, staggering incident that leaves him shaken. Making it even worse is the realization that no matter how much Papa and Dad love and support him, they can’t truly understand what he’s feeling because they’re white. The honesty of the discussion, and the difficulty of this realization for all of them, is beautifully handled in a book full of warmth, but also humor and light. (Ages 7–10)

© Cooperative Children's Book Center, Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison, 2017

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