Manatee Summer


Mr Reilly is President of the Indigo River Boating Club. He’s also a major lottery winner. What’s more, he’s Peter’s nemesis. Peter’s mother’s warns him to stay away from Mr Reilly, while Mr Reilly behaves threateningly to Peter.

However, when Peter discovers an injured manatee along the Indigo River Boating Canal, his feelings spill over. It’s not just the injuries, but the creature. After all, Peter’s grown up with Papa’s stories of his childhood, and a time that there were so many manatees in this Florida neck of the woods that he could swim with them! However, Papa’s stories change, particularly now that he has dementia. It’s why he’s come to live with Peter and his mother, and why Peter must watch over him during this summer, the summer that he and Tommy plan to work through their animal Discovery Catalogue.

While Peter doesn’t feel he can share what’s happening at home with Tommy, it seems that Tommy has a secret too. What’s more, it’s one that will prove life changing for Peter.

While the summer is meant to be a pause until the anxiety of beginning Middle School, it becomes something else, from storms, to friendship, observations of adult behaviour, to environmental concerns. Altogether, Manatee Summer is an outstanding book which this Bookwagoneer was reluctant to leave. What a beautiful, meaningful story.

Junior Library Guild selection

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Manatee Summer

Evan Griffith


We know the time ahead of middle school is stressful from Freestyle. However, Peter’s coping thanks to a plan to catalogue every wildlife species he and, Tommy, find in their Florida setting. They aim to get to one hundred.
However, there are other challenges. It seems that Peter’s grandfather lives with him since his dementia diagnosis. With Peter’s mother working during the holidays, Peter’s responsible for Papa. Peter doesn’t feel as though he can share  this with Tommy, although they’re best friends. However,i t seems Tommy has his own secret that has the potential to devastate Peter.
Then again, Papa’s childhood stories of manatees have ignited something within Peter so that this creature is top of his wish list. It seems there may be some hiding along the  the Indigo River Boating Club canal. What’s more, it’s likely manatees discovered bear scars from being hit by speeding boats. Mr Reilly, local big shot, lottery winner and Peter’s nemesis. is president of the Indigo River Boating Club. Thereafter, when Peter discovers an injured manatee to which he becomes desperately attached, he is determined to take action.
Evan Griffith‘s Manatee Summer is astounding. Not only is it so immersed in its Florida setting  that we can feel the heat within this lull between the school seasons, but we are quickly committed to Peter, his friendship and his plight. Then again, the environmental story is compelling. Bookwagon loves and recommends this empathetic, urgent and brilliant book for all middle grade readers.


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