Fourth Grade Journey

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

Monday, June 20, 2016

When Friendship Followed Me Home by Paul Griffin

How I Heard About It:  I saw a tweet from Scott Fillner (@sfillner) about this book and he gave it such positive reviews.  I was going to buy it, but the bookstores were closed so I downloaded it via my 3M Cloud Library app.  Once I started I couldn't stop reading so ended up reading the entire story on my iPad.  I will definitely be getting a hard copy for my classroom.  

What It Is About:  Twelve year old Ben Coffin hasn't had it easy in life.  He spent several years of his life in the foster care system.  After being adopted by a lovely woman, he experiences loss with her.  Ben finds his refuge via the Coney Island Library.  He is a sci-fi lover and has become friends with the friendly librarian or as Ben likes to call her a "media specialist."  After rescuing a stray dog in the ally next to the library, he feels like his luck is about to change.  Ben and his new friend Halley name the dog Flip.  Flip is a one of a kind pet and they want to share this gift with others.  The two of them set out to train Flip to be a therapy dog for children that have difficulties with reading.  Ben and Halley not only share a love for Flip, but for reading and writing.  They begin to create their own fiction story that ends up to reflect their own experiences.  As much as we want life to be fair, Ben finds out that just when you think everything is falling into place, circumstances can throw you a "cracked bone" and you need to find all the survival skills you can.  

What I Thought Of It:  Thank you to Scott Fillner for tweeting about this incredible book.  As I said, once I started I could not stop reading.  I read late into the night and had very wet eyes when I closed the iPad.  This was a beautiful, heart-warming, and touching story about a young boy trying to make the best of his difficult life.  I would be so lucky to have a classroom full of "Bens" in my class.  He was one of the most thoughtful and kind characters I have read about in a long time.  I'm a sucker for dog stories and this one cut right into the middle of my heart.  I'm so glad that Halley and her family came into Ben's life and touched him in more than one way.  Everything about this novel was excellent.  Paul Griffin's writing is superb and he makes you feel like you are right next to the characters experiencing their life with them.  I can't wait to get a hard copy of this novel and share it with my fourth graders next fall.  I've already put a message on my "Schoology" course for my students from this past year to get out and grab a copy of this book.  

Who Should Read It:  When Friendship Followed Me Home is the perfect book for any third, fourth, fifth, or sixth grade classroom.  There are so many elements that young readers will enjoy about this book.  They will love the characters and they will of course love Flip.  There are some heavy themes throughout the story, but are handled with grace, ease, and heart.  I think the novel would be great for a read aloud, a book club selection, or to put in the hands of individual readers.  If you are an adult reader who enjoys middle-grade stories, you MUST read this book.  Happy Reading!  

Rating:  5 STARS out of 5 Stars

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