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