Every once in a while, a book comes along that has the capacity to just make you smile. The Misadventures of the Family Fletcher is one of those books.
This slim, middle reader novel follows the Fletcher family over the course of a school year: Dad, a history teacher; Papa, who stays at home and does consulting work while the boys are at school; and their sons, Sam, Jax, Eli, and Frog.
While there is conflict in this book, it's not a huge, dramatic, overarching one. Rather, it's a series of small, realistic problems that each of the boys face. Eli, age 10, starts a new school for "scholarly minded" students and realizes pretty early on that he hates it. Jax's best friend is doing the cool pre-teen thing and is growing away from Jax. Sam, in sixth grade, is trying to figure out how to balance his usual love -- soccer -- with something he discovered he likes -- acting. And Frog, in kindergarten, tries to get his family to believe him when he says he has a new friend whose name is Ladybug.
It's a charming, sweet little book, one that I hope will be able to reach a number of readers. In fact, the diversity of this one -- both Jax and Frog are characters of color -- is my second favorite thing about it (my first favorite being the old-fashioned feel). I loved how Levy had a hugely
diverse cast but the diversity wasn't ever the main issue. These characters are ones that everyone -- boys and girls -- relate to.
This has a classic, homespun feel; simple, true-to-life challenges, rather than huge dramatic conflict; and a charming, whimsical feel that will stay with you when you're done reading.