cover image Maxi's Secrets: (Or, What You Can Learn from a Dog)

Maxi's Secrets: (Or, What You Can Learn from a Dog)

Lynn Plourde. Penguin/Paulsen, $16.99 (272p) ISBN 978-0-399-54567-2

"Really, really short" for his age, Timminy knows that he'll be the perfect target for bullies at his new school. The only upside to his family's recent move is Maxi, a Great Pyrenees puppy. She immediately wins the fifth-grader's heart, and nothing%E2%80%94not her strong will, smelly accidents, or deafness%E2%80%94lessens his devotion to her. Maxi's endearing personality and outgoing nature help Timminy develop relationships with two neighbors: gruff and imposing Rory, who surprises Timminy with unexpected kindness and complexity; and visually impaired Abby, who has little patience for Timminy's self-pity and challenges his defeatist attitude. The story opens with Timminy telling readers that Maxi dies, but this information fades to the background as they watch Timminy come into his own and Maxi become a hero in ways both big and small. In her first middle grade novel, picture book author Plourde (Merry Moosey Christmas) clearly shows Maxi's remarkable influence on the lives of Timminy, his family, and his friends. This story is a tender reminder that perceived shortcomings don't define us and that the power of friendship can't be underestimated. Ages 10%E2%80%93up. Agent: Susan Cohen, Writers House. (Aug.)