Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Summer Reading 2016 Maxi's Secrets (Or What You Can Learn from a Dog)


I ought to create a new shelf - books that may me cry my eyes out - and put this one and a few others on it. The narrator of the book, TImminy Harris, tells you at the very beginning, "Let's get this part over with - its no secret. My dog Maxi, dies. Just like Old Yeller, Sounder, Old Dan, and Little Ann all died." So you know going into the book that you will probably cry, but let me tell you now - it is a foregone conclusion, so get the tissues ready. Tim gets his dog because his family is moving from their apartment in Portland to a home in the countryside of Maine. That means that the story is also one about adjusting to a new school, making new friends, etc. Lucky for him, he has Maxi to help him.

The book is told with Tim speaking directly to us. At the end of each chapter he lists the secret that he has learned from the events described in the chapter. Here are a couple of my favorites: "Secret #11 There's nothing so bad in the world that dog kisses won't make it better." "Secret #23 Learning is a lot more fun when it's stuff you care about." and "Secret #49 Sometimes there are no words." Along the way from Chapter 1 to Chapter 51, Tim describes how he handles being the new kid at school, the shortest kid at school, and the son of the new assistant principal. He meets his neighbors; Rory is a very large 7th grader with the nickname "The Jolly Mean Giant," Abby is a beautiful black girl who is blind and has been adopted by white parents, and Devon has to use crutches because she has hereditary spastic paraplegia. So Tim isn't the only one who has problems to deal with. Having Maxi around helps him make friends and cope with his difficulties.

There are so many funny parts within the book. Maxi finding turkey poop and rolling in it. An older student thinking Tim is an elementary school kid and trying to get him back on the bus even though he really belongs at the middle school. Abby pretending that she is going to walk off the edge into the swimming pool just to mess with Tim. Tim's dad explaining the meaning and derivation of the word gander (or any other word that someone questions him on). But, most of all, it is a story of a wonderful dog and her boy.

If you enjoy dog stories like Because of Winn Dixie, or Shiloh, then you should read this one as soon as you can.

I read an e-book provided by the publisher through NetGalley.

The author wrote this book to honor her own dog, Maggie. Here is a photo of Maggie as a puppy:

And here she is, all grown up:

Lynn says that it has been 3 years since they lost their Maggie, but she still misses her every day. She says, "I believe we shouldn’t look away because it hurts too much when someone dies, but rather we should lean into our grief and celebrate the gifts and joy that our loved one brought to our lives—their gifts live on."

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