Windy City Media Group Frontpage News
Celebrating 30 Years of Gay Lesbian Bisexual and Trans News
home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2018-02-21
DOWNLOAD ISSUE
About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage

Sponsor
Sponsor

  WINDY CITY TIMES

MOMBIAN More fun with the Fletchers in new book sequel
by Dana Rudolph
2017-05-03

facebook twitter google +1 reddit email


They're back! The four boys, two dads and assorted pets who romped through Dana Alison Levy's award-winning middle-grade novel The Misadventures of the Family Fletcher return in The Family Fletcher Takes Rock Island.

This time, the multiracial, multiethnic family is off on their yearly vacation to Rock Island, a fictional New England locale. They discover, however, that the lighthouse they loved to explore is being targeted by a real estate developer who wants to turn it into condominiums. They try to prevent this while also dealing with two new girls next door, attempts to teach their cats to swim, and a madcap Shakespeare production.

Levy told me in an email interview that Rock Island is a blend of many New England islands, but mostly Nantucket, where she spent over 20 summers starting as a child. "It's not a perfect place, of course," she said. "No place is, really. But the memories of those summers are some of the most evocative and special, because it really is a place where time stands still."

The Fletchers, however, rarely stand still. Levy calls this second volume "the Scooby Doo book"—full of mystery and action. And there is an overarching theme of change as the boys realize their regular vacation spot might never be the same, and as they begin to sense changes in themselves as they grow older.

As with her first book, Levy said, "My inspiration came from the beloved slice-of-life stories I grew up with, from Elizabeth Enright's Melendy Quartet to Judy Blume's Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing. But I wanted the Fletchers to be more reflective of our 21st-century world—to look like the families in my neighborhood, in my children's classrooms, and in our communities.

She seems to have succeeded. "I've had young kids come up to me at school visits and announce proudly, 'I have two dads ( or two moms )! I'm just like the Fletchers!'" she related. "And just recently a family of two dads and an adopted son came to my book signing and bought a new copy of the original Fletcher book, as well as the new one. They said that their son had read the first copy until it fell apart, and that they thought he liked it so much because it confirmed his place in the world. That was pretty awesome."

Neither of her books, however, are "about" being in a gay-headed family per se. Nevertheless, she is clearly tuned to the currents of social justice. In one scene, Jax, the Black son, and Alex, a Hispanic friend, are racially profiled and accused of pickpocketing. Later, Jax discusses this with his Papa, who is White.

To her credit, Levy doesn't make Papa have all the answers. He is sympathetic, but suggests Jax also speak with his Aunt Lucy's boyfriend, who is Black, and "probably has some thoughts about being a Black man in the world."

This reflects Levy's own recognition of her location and limits as a White author. "I didn't want to write an issue book, partly because I wanted to write an everyday family tale, and partly because, quite honestly, I am not the right person to tell that story," she explained. "The #OwnVoices movement makes a great point that diversity of characters isn't enough—we also need diversity of authors, and to let people tell their own stories. My goal was to write about the parts of being a family that we all share."

At the same time, despite "idyllic summer moments," she said, "my summers were spent somewhere homogenous and largely white, and it's unfair and unrealistic to put my desire for a happy summer story above the realities of being of a different race in such an environment. Jax and Alex's experience was, unfortunately, very much an everyday story, though not in the way we'd like."

In order to make Jax's experience feel authentic, she said, "I talked to parents, and also read articles and blogs and watched videos." But she also stayed true to the helplessness that many of us feel when confronted with a systemic ill like racism, saying, "Ultimately I channeled my own challenge as a parent: What can I do when I can't fix something that's hurting them? When I can't help? All any parent can do, really, is listen, and love, and show that they care."

Many families will appreciate this thoughtful subplot—as well as the much broader whole that is funny, exciting, and full of the random everyday adventures in a family with four kids.

Levy's next book, This Would Make a Good Story Someday, will be a spin-off about a two-mom family introduced in the first Fletcher book. She shared, "It's told from twelve-year-old Sara's point of view, through journal entries, postcards, and other travel documents" as the family travels cross-country by train.

As for more Fletcher books, she said, "I have some ideas for where I'd like Sam, Jax, Eli and Frog to go next, but we'll see."

Let's hope we're lucky enough to get more tales of this fun, imperfect, adventurous, and loving family. And while I have no contacts in Hollywood whatsoever, I think real-life gay dads and actors Neil Patrick Harris and Dan Bucatinsky ( though not a real couple ) would be perfect to play the dads in a television or movie adaptation. We can only dream. For the moment, however, read this delightful book with your own family and let the Fletchers bring a little Rock Island sunshine into your home.

Dana Rudolph is the founder and publisher of Mombian ( mombian.com ), a GLAAD Media Award-winning blog and resource directory for LGBTQ parents.


facebook twitter google +1 reddit email




Windy City Media Group does not approve or necessarily agree with the views posted below.
Please do not post letters to the editor here. Please also be civil in your dialogue.
If you need to be mean, just know that the longer you stay on this page, the more you help us.


  ARTICLES YOU MIGHT LIKE

Gay News

MOMBIAN Fighting for kids against religious exemption laws 2018-02-21 - As a growing number of states allow child welfare agencies to discriminate against LGBTQ prospective foster and adoptive parents and LGBTQ youth in ...


Gay News

VIEWPOINTS Amid the noise in D.C., dreamers' fate hangs in the balance 2018-02-14 - Forget about Trump's tweets and demand that Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell pass a clean Dream Act. In September, Donald Trump said ...


Gay News

VIEWPOINTS Abortion access is an LGBTQ issue, too 2018-02-07 - This year, we are celebrating the 45th anniversary of the landmark Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade, which affirmed that the Constitution protects ...


Gay News

Sue the T. rex goes nonbinary 2018-02-06 - The Field Museum announced its iconic T. rex, Sue will use preferred gender pronouns they/them/their in an effort to honor Sue's identity and ...


Gay News

GUEST COLUMN The Seasoned Life, Remaining Prepared 2018-01-31 - About 10 years ago some friends and I were sitting in the indoor space at Washington Park on Chicago's South Side, waiting for ...


Gay News

SENIOR MOMENTS Letter from Palm Springs 2018-01-31 - I'm 66 years of age, and growing old as a gay man isn't what I thought it would be. I was rather ...


Gay News

GUEST COLUMN Family Feud: Jay-Z, Beyonce, and the Desecration of Black Art 2018-01-30 - "Business is booming and I am not loved the way I want to be." — Morgan Parker, "Hottentot Venus" from the collection of ...


Gay News

GUEST VIEWPOINT Reclassifying "female condom" can revolutionize contraceptive industry 2018-01-29 - If you've had safe, penetrative sex at some point in your life, you've probably used the "male" condom, which is designed to be ...


Gay News

VIEWPOINT Who Will Defeat Governor Rauner? 2018-01-26 - The Personal PAC Board voted to endorse JB Pritzker after fully considering the qualifications of all of the candidates and conducting in-depth interviews ...


Gay News

MOMBIAN New PFLAG head is queer parent, professional 2018-01-24 - Both as a daughter and a parent, the new executive director of PFLAG, Dr. Jaime Grant, understands the organization's mission of uniting families, ...


 



Copyright © 2018 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.

 

 

 

TRENDINGBREAKINGPHOTOS

Sponsor
Sponsor
Sponsor


 



Sponsor

About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage


About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots      OUT! Guide     
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Subscriptions      Distribution      Windy City Queercast     
Queercast Archives      Advertising  Rates      Deadlines      Advanced Search     
Press  Releases      Event Photos      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Post an Event      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam      Outguide Categories      Outguide Advertisers      Search Outguide      Travel      Dining Out      Blogs      Spotlight  Video     
Classifieds      Real Estate      Place a  Classified     

Windy City Media Group produces Windy City Queercast, & publishes Windy City Times,
The Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community,
Nightspots, Out! Resource Guide, and Identity.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.