Maxi’s Secrets (Or What You Can Learn From A Dog) (hardcover)
by Lynn Plourde
AR Level 4.1, 7 points
Maxi’s Secrets is about a dog and her boy, Timminy. Timminy is an unusually short fifth grader who is new in a small town (moved from Portland, Maine). He starts at a new school where he is immediately bullied for his height. He, however, makes it worse by not being able to laugh at himself. He makes friends with a girl who is blind and several of her friends. Most importantly, Timminy has a best friend named Maxi, a Great Pyrenees puppy, who is wise beyond her years and teaches Timminy her many “secrets” to life. Each chapter ends with a lesson that Maxi taught Timminy.
What I liked about this book was that it brought in children with disabilities. One extremely short, one blind, one with a disorder leaving her with crutches, and one who isn’t disabled, but sad due to his mom leaving. It is good to have diverse characters so readers can gain understanding, compassion, and acceptance.
What I didn’t like about this book was that I didn’t feel it was authentic. I believe the author really experienced the love and death of her pet dog, but the thinking and interactions of the characters seemed very far removed from the way young people think today. Not that I know… I’m 38 years old… but I spend my day with 11 and 12 year olds, and I listen to their conversations. The story was entertaining and I know my dog-loving students will enjoy it, but I’m not positive they’ll be able to relate to it. I heard a lot about this book on Twitter last year, but I wasn’t as impressed. I took me 2 weeks to finish, which was a ridiculously long time for the level of difficulty.
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