Expected Release Date August 23, 2016
Nancy Paulsen Books
Middle Grade Novel
Advanced Review Copy provided by publisher.
When a BIG, lovable, does-it-her-way dog wiggles her way into the heart of a loudmouth pipsqueak of a boy, wonderful things happen that help him become a bigger, better person. With its diverse cast, authentic narrator, and perfect blend of spot-on middle-grade humor, drama, and wisdom, this powerful debut is relatable, funny, bittersweet, and full of heart.
Timminy knows that moving to a new town just in time to start middle school when you are perfect bully bait is less than ideal. But he gets a great consolation prize in Maxi—a gentle giant of a dog who the family quickly discovers is deaf. Timminy is determined to do all he can to help Maxi—after all, his parents didn't return him because he was a runt. But when the going gets rough for Timminy, who spends a little too much time getting shoved into lockers at school, Maxi ends up being the one to help him—along with their neighbor, Abby, who doesn’t let her blindness define her and bristles at Timminy’s “poor-me” attitude. It turns out there’s more to everyone than what’s on the surface, whether it comes to Abby, Maxi, or even Timminy himself.
Maxi is joining the ranks of classic "dog books" such as Old Yeller, Shiloh and Because of Winn Dixie and will fit right in. However, it is much more than just a book about an exceptional, loving dog.
It is about how Maxi draws people together, imperfect, misunderstood people who need each other. Because of Maxi, Timminy meets Abby, his first friend in his new town. Because of Maxi, Timminy has a reason to get through the school day. And it is Maxi who reveals the softer side of the school bully, Rory.
The characters are very well-developed and the author makes the reader care deeply about each of them. Timminy embarrasses himself in cringe-worthy fashion throughout the book making the reader root for him to overcome his awkwardness and to finally get the chip off his tiny shoulder. Middle grade readers will be hooked from the beginning and will not be able to put down this book as they hang on for its many ups and downs including a very emotional ending.
I am not what you would consider a "dog person". I have never owned a dog or any pet for that matter, but one does not need to be a dog person to love Maxi's Secrets.
Lynn Plourde is not a new author. She is an award winning author who has published dozens of picture books. This is Plourde's first middle grade novel and it is a gem. I would highly recommend it for middle grade classrooms and libraries. It would also make a great read aloud or independent read. I will certainly be putting it in my classroom library.