Manatee Summer (Paperback)

Manatee Summer By Evan Griffith Cover Image

Manatee Summer (Paperback)


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In this poignant middle grade contemporary debut that New York Times bestselling author Katherine Applegate calls “by turns heartbreaking and heart-healing,” Evan Griffith beautifully captures all the tenderness and uncertainty that come with caring for family, friends, and the natural world.

Peter and his best friend, Tommy, have a goal for their last summer before middle school: finish their Discovery Journal, a catalog of the wildlife around their Florida town. When they spot a manatee in a canal, Peter knows they’ve found something special—and when the manatee is injured by a boat, something to protect!

As Peter joins the fight to save Florida manatees, he also finds himself taking care of his ailing grandfather and facing an unwelcome surprise that jeopardizes his friendship with Tommy. Soon Peter is adrift, navigating shifting tides and realizing that he has as much to discover about himself as he does about the world around him.

Evan Griffith is the author of the picture book Secrets of the Sea: The Story of Jeanne Power, Revolutionary Marine Scientist and Manatee Summer. He received his MFA in writing for children and young adults at the Vermont College of Fine Arts. He lives in Austin, TX. Visit Evan online at

"Traditional masculine stereotypes are defied by a gentle, attentive friendship between two boys. A lush backdrop and sweet characters facing complicated problems will keep readers hooked." — Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

"A poignant and reflective debut novel perfect for budding conservationists...Hand this charming ecological tale—a terrific pick for libraries—to readers who appreciate having their heartstrings tugged by books like Carl Hiaasen’s Hoot (2002)." — Booklist (starred review)

"By turns heartbreaking and heart-healing, Manatee Summer is an empowering story about facing change with bravery, humor, and hope. Don’t miss this unforgettable middle grade debut by an exciting new voice."  — Katherine Applegate, Newbery Medal-winning and #1 New York Times bestselling author of The One and Only Ivan

“With humor and real emotion in satisfying balance, Griffith tells the story of a boy dealing with a lot of change—in his family, his friendships, and in himself. The mysterious power of the natural world and Peter’s relationship with it through Tommy and Papa brings additional dimension and beauty to this affecting novel.” — Sara Zarr, author of National Book Award finalist Story of a Girl

“Transporting readers right to the Florida shore, Evan Griffith's gorgeous debut makes you appreciate how simultaneously beautiful and tumultuous caretaking for a family member can be, and how loving and caring for those you love knows no depths.” — Nicole Melleby, author of How to Become a Planet

"Manatee Summer is an engaging debut novel about remaining compassionate in the face of adversity, standing strong when all is lost, and connecting to loved ones who seem to be an ocean away. I loved Peter’s connection to Zoe, and cheered for him to find his voice to speak up for himself and those who needed him most." — Lynne Kelly, author of Song For a Whale

"Manatee Summer is an album of love stories: between a boy and his grandpa, between two kids and all creatures, between two best friends, and between a boy and his gentle giant, Zoe, a manatee. Peter is a kid who loves hard and yet loves effortlessly, and all readers will be touched by his earnestness and passion."  — Caela Carter, author of Charlotte Huck Honor Book Forever, or a Long, Long Time

"Destined to become a classic—this book has a heart that will beat for the ages." — Martha Brockenbrough, author of Into the Bloodred Woods

"Peter’s attempts to save Zoe (his name for the manatee) become the heart of the novel, and debut author Griffith adroitly weaves in the other threads of the tale around it. Peter's story is full of sadness, adventure, and beautiful scenes on the Indigo River. Any writer who can make readers cry about “a gray, rubbery island” of a manatee has done his job well." — Horn Book Magazine