Delacorte Books for Young Readers (July 22, 2014)
E ARC from Netgalley.com
The new school year is starting, and the Fletcher boys are getting ready. Frog is in kindergarten, Jax is in 4th grade, and Sam is in 6th grade. Eli is the same age as Jax but not at Grove School with the rest of them—he has chosen to go to the Pinnacle school for gifted students. He isn’t settling into the new school all that well, and starts to regret his choice, especially when his family storm the school (a chapter title!) and he has to explain not only that Frog is from India, all the boys are adopted, and they have a Dad and a Papa. Once people at the school know the family, it’s easier, but the initial explanation to school mates is hard. The book follows the family through the trials and tribulations of the year, with anecdotes about Frog’s possibly imaginary friend, Ladybug Li (who has sisters and two moms), soccer, a school play, Halloween, visits with Aunt Luce, a cupcake baker, and a variety of run ins with the crabby Mr. Nelson, a new neighbor who thinks that the boys attempts at being friendly are met to harass him. Every chapter is headed with a note from one of the fathers or boys, and humor abounds in ordinary situations.
Strengths: This book is reminiscent of family novels from my childhood that go through the year and follow the exploits of the various members, but is updated in a new millennium way that showcases diversity with very little comment about it. The biggest mention is in Eli’s visit to his new school, and that certainly rings very true. This is sort of the whole point of #WeNeedDiverseBooks!
Weaknesses: This is rather young for middle school—perhaps if there are more adventures from this family, the boys will be older and the stories more interesting to the middle school crowd.