Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

The Misadventures of the Family Fletcher

The Misadventures of the Family Fletcher

Dana Alison Levy
For ages 9 to 12
Unabridged audiobook (CD)
Performed/read by: Dan Woren
Listening Library , 2014   ISBN: 978-0804168649

A new school year is starting and the Fletcher boys, all four of them, are facing new experiences. Little Frog is now going to “real school,” and he is very excited at the prospect. He is no longer a kindergartener and surely this rite of passage means that important things lie in his future.

Eli is going to a school for gifted children, something he begged his fathers to allow him to do. Finally he is going to be around kids who are as smart as he is, and therefore he will have some academic challenges in the school year.

Jax is going to be a fourth grader, which means he is going to be in the Upper Elementary with the fifth and sixth graders. This also means that he will be in the same building as his big brother, Sam. Sam is a bit of a superhero at the school and perhaps he will be willing to let some of his popularity rub off on his little brother. Jax is going to need to think of ways to get his big brother to let him into the coveted inner circle.

Sam really enjoyed fourth and fifth grade, but this year he really hopes that he will get chosen for his school’s Under-13 Elite Team in soccer. Soccer is the most important thing in Sam’s life. Not that he does poorly academically, but schoolwork is not his focus. He is therefore rather startled when he is told, alongside his classmates, that sixth grade is going to be the year when grades really start “to matter.” No more shirking assignments or goofing off. Things are going to get serious.

As so often happens, the expectations the boys have don’t quite mesh with what life gives them. The culture in Eli’s school is very rigid, so much so that the kids have very little time to just be kids during the school day. Eli does not want to have to tell his dads that he made a mistake asking to go to the special school. He knows that they are paying a lot for the fees and he bugged them so much to be allowed to be there. He has no idea what to do about his situation and begins to feel trapped.

All is going well for Jax until he has to starts working on his Veteran Project. He has to interview someone who is a veteran and then write about the war that his interviewee served in. Jax finds out that his neighbor, Mr. Nelson, is a veteran, but Mr. Nelson and the Fletchers have not had a good relationship, and the problems that the Fletchers have with the older man only get worse as the months go by. How is Jax going to get an interview with his irascible and inflexible neighbor?

Sam also has a situation that is distressing him. He discovers that the boys in his sporty group of friends are very judgmental and he is pulled in two directions, not knowing what to do. Should he do what he wants to do, or allow their criticisms to influence his decisions?

There is something irresistible about the members of the Fletcher family. They all have their strengths and weaknesses, just like us, and they all have moments when they are not at their best. Thankfully the connection between the two fathers and their four adopted sons is strong, and therefore tough times are weathered. Hurt feelings, anger, disappointment and unhappiness are balanced by humor, loyalty and love.