Maxi’s Secret (Or, What You Can Learn From a Dog)

Maxi’s Secrets (Or, What You Can Learn From a Dog)

By Lynn Plourde

New York: Nancy Paulsen Books, 2016.

Genre: Realistic     Fiction Grades: 5-7      Pages 262


This is a wonderful heartwarming story about a very short boy, his neighbor who is 5141frzcthlblind and his dog who is deaf.  Timminy, the short boy is bullied at his new school, his neighbor Abby is confident and a confidant and Maxi; is the adorable and loveable puppy. Like many of my readers, I hate sad dog books and this book opens with, “Let’s get this part over with—it’s no secret. My dog, Maxi dies.” I am not sure that really prepares me for when it happens in the book (it did not because I sobbed for a couple of minutes) but I knew the lessons like–#51 “Best friends are forever friends. They make you laugh and cry and laugh some more—even the ones who have moved on.”–would definitely make this story touch my heart and it did!


Rain Reign


Rain Reign

By Ann M. Martin

New York: Feiwel and Friends, 2014.

Pages 226 Grades 5 and Up

Family tragedy, a hurricane and a dog make this a very moving and heartwarming story of a girl with Asperger’s Syndrome. Asperger’s is a high functioning level of Autism, which although Rose looks normal she has some habits and rituals that make her different from her classmates. She loves to keep a list of homonyms (words that sound the same but are spelled differently), she is a rule keeper and loves prime numbers. In fact if she gets stressed she often can be heard counting by prime numbers.

Rose is in Mrs. Kushel’s 5th grade classroom, where she has an aide with her every day. Mrs. Leibler helps Rose to understand her world and helps her to respond appropriately in class.

Rose tells the story of how she knows she is different but wants badly to be accepted by her classmates, and her dad. Dad is trying to raise her on his own since Rose’s mom left; but overcoming his own childhood abuse and being placed in many foster homes he often finds he is not equipped to handle Rose. Rose finds solace in her dog Rain (Reign) and in her dad’s brother, Uncle Weldon.

When Hurricane Susan stirs up violent storms, Rose’s dad lets Rain outside by accident and she runs off. Rose cannot understand how this could happen, she blames her dad, meanwhile dad loses his job and everyone is at their breaking point.

This story will make you laugh, cry and having you cheer for a girl whose name is a homonym, Rose.




By Nora Raleigh Baskin

New York:  Simon & Shuster, 2013.runt

Grades 5-7

What is it really like going to Middle School? For many students it is exciting, fun, an opportunity to meet new friends, and of course to learn a lot of new things!  But what many students won’t talk about is how tough and challenging the social relationships are!  Runt is that story!  Meet Miss Robinson’s sixth grade class—at least most of them anyways.  The story begins being told from Elizabeth, whose single mom, boards animals inside their home to make ends meet.  Elizabeth has a good heart but most kids can’t get past the “animal smell” and Elizabeth’s need to boost her self-esteem at any given moment in class—which often turns out offending others.  So Elizabeth is often on the end of being bullied.  But she is not alone in her struggles of insecurity and awkwardness.  Listen closely as each chapter gives voice to different class members as they tell their story of how they became either a bully, bystander or victim.  Nora Baskin has a unique twist in this book as she often compares middle school students to the likes of the dogs and cats Elizabeth’s mom takes in! 

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The Art of Racing in the Rain

Racing in the Rain

By Garth Stein

Children adaptation of the adult book!  Yay!   My favorite adult book now available for kids!!


The Art of Racing in the Rain

By Garth Stein

New York:  Harper Collins, 2008.


Life actually parallels race car driving in many ways as told by Enzo, the family dog. That’s right from a dog–you get a wonderful new perspective of family life and what it means to be the family pet in this wonderful

Racing in the Rain, tells the story of Danny, who always wanted to be a race car driver and how a wife, a daughter and a dog changed the road conditions from dry to wet. In dry condition a driver knows what to expect but in  the rain a driver needs to be focused, needs to anticipate others moves and needs to take advantage of opportunities as they arise.  Danny put his dreams of being a driver on the back burner when he falls in love with his wife and then his daughter. Enzo knows how Danny aches to be racing, because Danny tells Enzo everything—in fact Danny and Enzo often watch racing on the television together.

I loved the insights Enzo has about being a dog—from wishing that he had thumbs to a tongue that he could use to talk.  After all the listening the dog has done—he has some very wise and thoughtful things he would like to say to his family.

The family dog tells this story of family fun, love, anger, heartbreak and hope.

I loved, loved this story!  I will never look at my dog the same again!  🙂

One Dog and His Boy

By Eva Ibbotson

New York: Scholastic Press, 2011.

282 pages Grades 4-7

Genre:  Realistic Fiction


How far would a boy go for his dog?  If you said to the ends of the earth you would be talking about Hal.  All he ever wanted was a dog.  Hal was an only child, whose parents were very wealthy—dad traveled around the world making money while mom stayed at home finding ways to spend it.  Both were preoccupied with things other than their son, Hal.  Since Hal’s dad had forgotten to get him a present for his birthday, he promised to take Hal down and let him pick out a dog.  What Hal didn’t know was that the dad had rented the dog for the weekend.  Rented the DOG!  While Hal was at a Dentist appointment his mom returned the dog as she would never let him have a dog for it would ruin their luxurious home.  Hal was devastated.  He planned to runaway to his grandparents home and got some help along the way from a girl named Pippa.  Eva Ibbotson, the author does a fabulous job developing all the characters in this book:  the snobbish parents, the kind maid, animal loving Pippa and Kayley, the dastardly pair who run “Easy Pets” Dog Rental, Fleck the mutt who falls in love with Hal and the five dogs who run off with Hal and Fleck.  Move over Incredible Journey and Homeward Bound, One Dog and His Boy will have you cheering in this wonderful adventure of a boy and his dog!