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The Family Fletcher Takes Rock Island

by Dana Alison Levy

Published by Delacorte Press, 2016
259 pages
ISBN: 978-0-553-52130-6

Ages 7-10

During the Fletchersí 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. Thereís 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 Jaxís surprise once he realizes it, a girl) are accused of theft. The islandís inhabitants and vacationers are predominantly white and itís clear the kids were targeted because of their brown skin. Itís Jaxís 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 canít truly understand what heís feeling because theyíre 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 7Ė10)  © Cooperative Children's Book Center

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