by Dana Alison Levy
Overall: 4 out of 5 stars
Oh, I love this family. I’m so glad they’re back, with all their boys and animals and noise! Delightful. This time they’re off to Rock Island off the coast of Maine, to their summer home that’s been in one of the dads’ families for ages. They are trying to figure out the fishy feeling they get from the rich man who has put in an offer to buy the old lighthouse next to their property. On top of that, they’re making new friends, joining drama clubs, teaching the cats to swim, and generally having a grand – and clumsy – old summer.
Interesting contextual notes include: In this installment, the boys’ skin color – all four are adopted, and two are not white like their dads – becomes part of the plot (in the midst of Black Lives Matter and racial profiling). I loved the frank discussion that Jax and one of the fathers has, though it should be noted that Frog is also not-white (if memory serves he is Indian) and also deemed too young to be part of the conversation, and the other boys are also not included in that conversation, though it surely impacts – and implicates – them. Also Eli’s new best friend, Alex, turns out to be a girl who dresses and looks like a boy (in the midst of an anti-transgender bathroom bill and general uptick in interest in transgender issues in general and in kids’ books in particular).
One final note: It occurred to me that the Fletchers remind me a lot of the Penderwicks, and as soon as I had that thought I couldn’t stop thinking it: four children, all of the same gender, the first three close in age and one much younger, very funny, sibling. This book especially drove it home, since it closely parallels the first Penderwicks book in being away at their vacation home. But it’s not a huge problem, mostly because I love both families just so, so much.