Fourth Grade Journey

A Fourth Grade Teacher's Journey Through the World of Books

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Maxi's Secrets by Lynn Plourde

How I Heard About It:  I remember a few months back starting to hear about this novel via Twitter.  I knew Lynn Plourde from her picture books and was excited to learn she had a MG novel coming out this summer.  After some tweets with Lynn and Nancy Paulsen, I was being sent an ARC of the upcoming novel.  I was beyond excited.  The ARC, and a couple of new titles, arrived at my doorstep yesterday thanks to Nancy Paulsen.  I started Maxi yesterday afternoon on my porch and finished up the last page late last night with more than a tear in my eye.  

What It Is About:  Timminy is about to start fifth grade at a new school.  He and his parents have just moved from the hustle and bustle of Portland out to the quieter countryside.  Timminy's father is going to be the new assistant principal at the middle-school which includes fifth grade.  He isn't happy about this move, but receives a new puppy to help with the transition.  Maxi is a Great Pyrenees and is quite a special dog for Timminy's family.  Timminy is a perfect target for school bullying because of his size.  He is quite short.  Not just a little bit short, but really short.  When he begins school, his fifth grade experience is not off to a great start.  There is a BIG bully named Rory who targets Timminy because of his size and teases him relentlessly.  One positive is when Timminy meets the girl next door Abby.  They hit it off and begin a special friendship.  Abby is blind, but doesn't let that get in her way of doing whatever she wants.  After finding out that Maxi is deaf, Timminy makes it his goal for her to become the perfect dog.  Abby and Timminy work together to make this happen.  As time progresses, Timminy finds his place at school despite some mystery locker "shut-ins", and other pranks.  Just as he is getting his bearings in the new school and neighborhood, life takes a sudden turn and he fears for both Abby and Maxi's well-being.  

What I Thought Of It:  From the moment I started the first page, I knew this was going to be a special story.  I'm a huge dog lover so that was the first plus.  Timminy's family was so unique and I found myself wanting to be a member of their wonderful relationship.  Timminy had a great sense of humor and I found myself laughing out loud on several occasions.  The characters of Abby and Rory added greatly to the story and I so enjoyed the friendship the three of them formed.  Each chapter ended with a "secret" which was really a life-lesson that Timminy was learning throughout his journey.  I thought this was such a wonderful addition to the book.  The plot moved along at a beautiful pace and the story unraveled at a perfect speed.  Many of the events toward the end of the book surprised me and "hurt" my heart.  Just as there were some laugh out loud moments, I had several moments when my eyes were quite "wet".  Lynn has written a beautiful story about a boy and his beloved dog and what they brought to each other on so many levels.  In some ways I wish I hadn't read the entire book yesterday because I don't want to be done with their story.  

Who Should Read It:  I can't wait to share this novel with my fourth graders in the fall.  I'm thinking it will either be a read aloud for the entire class or a possible "Breakfast with Books" book club selection. The book would be perfect for a fourth, fifth, or sixth grader to read on their own.  The way that Lynn wrote the story and ended each chapter, it would be perfect for a class read aloud.  If you yourself are a dog lover, or you know of a child who is, this is a book that must be read and experienced.  The novel will be on shelves in August so be sure to look for it.  Happy Reading!  

Rating:  5 STARS out of 5 Stars

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