My rating: 5 of 5 stars
If you enjoyed Wonder, you will love this book too. The story of Ben, and Flip – the dog who changes his life – is endearing and memorable. Flip is a stray, taken in by Ben and his mum, Tess. Ben’s life is a bit of a roller coaster. He is smart and good at school, but is relentlessly bullied and pushed around. His way of escaping this is through books. Mrs Lorentz, the local public librarian, makes sure Ben has a plentiful supply of educational and escapist literature. It is through the library that Ben meets Halley, the girl who believes in magic. Together they train Flip to be a reading dog, to help other children read, and their bond of friendship is quick and strong.
The relationship between Ben and Halley is wonderful. It has echoes of John Green’s writing, but without the sweet sentimentality of The Fault in Our Stars. Halley is a strong, feisty and loyal friend – and Ben is fiercely protective of her. They find each others flaws and it only strengthens their friendship – with a little help from the delightful Flip.
I loved the fact that Ben’s librarian has such an enduring and positive contribution to his life, and that reading has helped Ben understand people so well. I found Ben’s Aunt Jeanie and Uncle Leo entirely believable as fumbling, unexpected guardians, and Mr and Mrs Lorentz equally as believable as warm, caring and generous carers.
Griffin also brings Flip to life so well I could actually picture him in my mind as a read. Each time I read about Flip “surfing” or high-fiving the kids at reading group I smiled because, in my mind’s eye, I could see it.
I can’t tell you any more about the plot because of spoilers, but I will say that you better have a box of tissues ready as you read this one – great sadness and great joy are contained in its pages. I would love every child over 10 to read this book – it’s just such a wonderful story, really well written. Put it on your Christmas list.
For ages 10 and up.