1. I was really happy to encounter such a unique cast of characters in this story. They’re definitely not cookie-cutter protagonists. The four children – Kim, Kimo, Toby, and Pippa – find themselves thrown together by virtue of complicated parentage. They all share a mother or a father or both. This was a selling point for me, as I haven’t read enough stories where step-siblings get along with one another as these four do.
2. I love the setting of the island. Even though the kids live in a car, I like to imagine that they enjoy the weather and scenery on a regular basis. (I’d love to experience a warm rainfall on the beach of an island one day.) There’s also something about adventures being set on islands that I really like, although I’m not too fond of the show Lost or the novel Lord of the Flies.
3. This book was just okay for me, and this is the perfect example of a story that I felt lukewarm about but that my students loved. I mean … I had kids repeatedly asking for when the book would become available because their classmates really enjoyed the story. Just goes to show you, I guess.
4. One of the things I wasn’t too thrilled about was the way that the circumstances of the kids were treated very lightly. From time to time, Kim does stress over how to find a new place to live (because the kids are growing up and the car space is growing small), but I can’t imagine how the four of them get along the way they do without a home, even though (most of) their parents are still around. I mean, they live in a car with no reliable source of … practically anything. Maybe for the younger ones it’s really the only life they remember, but I don’t quite understand how they’re able to survive with the meagre allowance they get from their parents or how they’re able to live on a beach with no trouble from authority figures. The kids’ hardships were treated too lightly, almost trivially, for my liking, but for some of my students, this is exactly what they enjoyed. They liked that despite the Fitzgerald-Trouts’ circumstances, they still get through their days and find adventures in Ikea-type stores.
5. Spalding’s prose is very easy to get lost in. In spite of those struggle points mentioned above, I enjoyed immersing myself in the story of the children and life on the island. I read a few chapters aloud in class, and my students lapped them up.
6. The illustrations are gorgeous. They’re done by Sydney Smith whom I was really pleased to have met in January and who very graciously illustrated my copy with a palm tree (I LOVE palm trees), the beach, and the ocean. Check out his website for more eye candy.
7. I’m looking forward to the next book of this series, Knock About with the Fitzgerald-Trouts, which is slated for release in May 2017, because I do really want to know what happens to the kids. I felt rather cliffhangered at the end of this book, and my students felt the same. I’m hoping there’s a little more realism (when it comes to some of the heavy stuff) balanced with the adventures of the Fitzgerald-Trout clan. Oh, and I’m looking forward to exploring the island with the children once again.
Thank you, Penguin Random House Canada, for sending me
a copy of Look Out for the Fitzgerald-Trouts in exchange for
an honest review.
All Squinklethoughts expressed herein are entirely my own.