May 10th 2016 by Delacorte BFYR
Papa, Dad and the boys are back after the school year they had in The Misadventures of the Family Fletcher. They have been coming for a few weeks every summer, and the best thing about Rock Island is that it never changes. That is, until it does. The lighthouse next to the family cabin has always been open to the public, and the Fletchers use it as a place to escape when the cabin gets too crowded. This year, not only is the lighthouse closed, but it is probably being sold to an artist. Eli misses his friends and is a bit tired of so much family time, Jax and Sam make friends with Alex, who lives nearby, only to be startled by Alex later, and Frog tries unsuccessfully to teach an older cat to swim before turning his attention to the family kitten. Aunt Lucy plans to come to visit and bring cupcakes from her shop, and her significant other Elon has a heart-to-heart with the boys about how Rock Island is not used to seeing people of color. The boys also learn that the artist might not have good designs on the lighthouse property, and expose him before Rock Island changes drastically.
Strengths: This had a few good teen angst moments with Eli and was strongly reminiscent of other "summers at the shore" books like Greenwald's Welcome to Dog Beach, The Penderwicks at Point Mouette, Howland's The Forget-Me-Not Summer and Hapka's Heart of a Dolphin. Had a retro vibe to it, despite the family's diversity.
Weaknesses: This series is a hard sell in middle school. I did buy it, but Frog gets equal treatment with Eli's teen angst, and my students all seem to be trying to get away from their families and have adventures on their own.
What I really think: Does anyone summer at the beach anymore? I have the entire summer "off" and have never summered at the beach. Of course, I am not a fan of beaches!