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I wish I could give more stars to this book. I highly recommend it to readers who want a "Fault in our Stars" type story without the sexual content. Ben has experienced a life of hard knocks but finally has a mom who loves him and is finding his place in middle school when a dog and a girl turn his life upside-down. Flip the dog shows us the world of Read to Rufus, a reading program for struggling learners and Halley becomes the friend we all wish we had when growing up. Prepare to smile and cry as you read this book and ignore anyone who says the the "book in a book" aspect is poorly done. That inner book is clearly written by tweens so it isn’t supposed to be excellent; it’s supposed to show you the thoughts of two best friends. Check it out!
From School Library Journal Gr 5–8—Twelve-year-old Ben, a science fiction fan with low self-esteem after years of foster care, meets a stray dog outside the Coney Island Public Library. Flip, with his big eyes and propensity to lick everyone’s mouth, in turn helps Ben get to know a girl who is fighting cancer, and her family. When Ben’s life gets turned upside down again, Flip remains. This is a “kitchen sink” book; it has bullying, adoption, homelessness, death, abuse, and cancer. However, the optimism of the protagonist combined with the positivity lent by the presence of this loving canine makes this book somehow less hard-hitting than the author’s usual YA dramas. Griffin never throws too much at readers at once, taking his protagonist through each successive challenge, and the dialogue remains consistently light and free of overt emotion. References to science fiction and middle grade literature abound, and there’s some serious admiration for dogs, librarians, and Jacqueline Woodson’s Feathers. The weakest part of this novel is the convoluted science fiction story Ben and the aforementioned girl unspool throughout. The plot-within-a-plot is written by these two imaginative kids with unfettered fancy, with the same quality of a child’s writing. If readers can get past those sections, however, the relentless pull of Ben’s slow character growth through his drama and the big loving doggy presence will pull misty-eyed readers to the very end. VERDICT If you have middle schoolers who are too young to fully grasp John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars and love dogs, give them this sweet tearjerker.—Rhona Campbell, Georgetown Day School, Washington, DC –This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
When Friendship Followed Me Home Paperback – July 18, 2017 by Paul Griffin (Author) Review
I loved Paul Griffin’s YA books Orange Houses and Stay With Me; this latest middle grade book was so powerful, funny, sad, and I think it should be read by everyone! Ben is a foster child who has found his forever home with the therapist who helped him through a rough patch. One day he finds a dog who changes his life, makes him try new things, and meets many new wonderful people through his association with this perfect little ambassador. As Flip and Ben navigate life and their bond, they meet Halley who urges Ben to use flip as a therapy dog; Flip helps reluctant readers become better readers. Halley and Ben become fast friends, write novels, and give Flip belly rubs. Halley has a wonderful mom (librarian extraordinaire) and great dad (Master Magician). As Ben falls in love with this family, there is heartbreak ahead; how will Ben and Flip fare with all the bumps in the road life throws at them? Definitely a favorite for me; realistic with good doses of happiness and sadness and special characters you truly love; highly recommended! -Read Reviews-
From the characters’ names to their strong voices, this novel will pull you in quickly. It’s the kind of writing that sinks into your soul. I already know I will read it over and over. I want more Ben, Flip, Halley, Tess and the Lorentz family. I just finished and I want to go back to page 1 and start again. This novel is real, and really brilliant. You will love Ben Coffin with every ounce of your being. You’ll wish you could be his friend. And you’ll wish you could rub Flip’s stomach. Read this book and the words will make you laugh, cry, then laugh again. This is magical perfection.
Tags: Animals, Animals - Dogs, Children: Grades 4-6, Death & Dying, Dogs, Friendship, Juvenile Fiction, Paul Griffin, Puffin Books, Social Themes, Social Themes - Death & Dying, Social Themes - Friendship, When Friendship Followed Me Home