Monday, July 27, 2020

MMGM- Second Dad Summer

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday
and #IMWAYR day 

Klas, Benjamin. Second Dad Summer
4 August 2020 by Red Chair/One Elm
Copy provided by the publisher upon request

Jeremiah enjoys spending his summers with his dad, Al, in urban Minneapolis, even though he misses his mom. This summer, though, his dad is living with Michael. Jeremiah doesn't care that his dad is bisexual-- sometimes he dates women, sometimes he dates men-- but Michael isa bit too much for him to take. He's vain about his appearance, wears very short shorts, and is always reminding Jeremiah to wear sunscreen and be careful in the neighborhood. His worst transgression is his bicycle (seen on the cover), which has glitter and a unicorn head mounted on it. Jeremiah does make friends with Sage, who lives in the building with her two moms, and is glad to be given a little more freedom to roam with another kid. There is an older tenant in the building, Mr. Keeler, who is very gruff. He smokes a lot, complains about the garden, and calls Michael a "pansy". Even so, Michael sometimes brings the man groceries and worries about this health. This makes a little more sense to Jeremiah when he sees Mr. Keeler at a gay pride festival, and learns that the man was involved in early protest movements. Jeremiah and Sage decide to work on the apartment house garden to make Mr. Keeler happier, but the man's health takes a bad turn. Jeremiah's father wants to ask Michael to marry him, but tells Jeremiah it's very important to Michael that Jeremiah like him. It's a busy summer, with a lot going on, and Jeremiah learns who and what are important to him.
Strengths: This includes a lot of practical information about the LGBTQIA+ community in a very age appropriate and straight-forward manner. While Jeremiah loves his dad and understands his dad's lifestyle in the abstract, it's interesting to see how he processes the reality of moving from his mom's to his dad's. The inclusion of some history, via Mr. Keeler, adds some depth to the story. There's plenty of fun activities for Sage and Jeremiah to investigate, which keep the story from becoming too didactic. The end of this reminded me a little of Constance Greene's A Girl Called Al (1969), which I cannot force myself to weed! Along with Gennari's 2012 My Mixed-Up, Berry Blue Summer, this is a great addition to elementary libraries everywhere. It's also great to see  that there has been some headway in the acceptance of the LGBTQIA+ community, even in the last eight years.
Weaknesses: There's a bit of a disconnect between the age of the character and the format of the book. Jeremiah seems like he is in middles school, but the illustrations and size of the text make this more appealing to elementary students. I was just hoping this would be more suitable for my middle school students. Also, Mr. Keeler's use of the term "pansy" worried me. It's not treated as acceptable, but I wished that he hadn't used it at all.
What I really think: My students are very interested in LGBTQIA+ books, but are not as interested in the experience of the parents. Still, I will probably put it in my collection because the large font will appeal to my reluctant readers.


  1. I liked this one too and handed my copy off to a 13-year-old who said it was his favorite book so far this year. You just never know.

  2. This book sounds great! I always love seeing LGBTQIA+ representation, and this story of this book sounds quite unique! Thanks for the great review!

  3. This is the second review I've read about this book, and it does sound compelling. There are many kids who will relate or know a friend who is in a similar situation. I do appreciate your comments about the books strengths and weaknesses!

  4. Sounds like a great read if you, Greg, and Greg's son really liked it. Hopefully it will appeal to your students too.

  5. I hadn't heard of this book. It sounds like it would be worth checking out. Thanks for the review.