A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Although Rafe doesn't study much, we see him consciously use self-reflection and perseverance to solve problems.
When your family's in need, find a way to pitch in. Think before you act. Try to do what's right. If you make a mistake, figure out how to make things right again. Have compassion for others.
Positive Role Models
Rafe's basic instinct is to be good and fair, but like many middle schoolers, he doesn't always practice good judgment. His kindness and compassion, though, show through. When he realizes his family needs money, he contributes from his dog-walking earnings by secretly leaving tips for his mom and sneaking food into the house. This older and wiser Rafe uses introspection to try to make good decisions and to figure out what to do when he realizes he has made the wrong ones. By no means two-dimensional, Rafe is a normal kid who tries to do what's right.
Violence & Scariness
Some practical jokes and a couple of mild scuffles.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
A brief mention of Rafe's mom kissing her boyfriend.
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Products & Purchases
M&M's mentioned for scene setting.
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Middle School: Dog's Best Friend is the eighth book in James Patterson and Chris Tebbetts' popular Middle School series. This one features an older and wiser Rafe, who starts a dog-walking business to earn money to buy a Gamebox but also helps his cash-strapped family with some of his earnings. The book is full of laughs but also has lots of positive messages woven throughout. Although Rafe runs into trouble with the new twins in the neighborhood, he finds that ultimately he has to be honest with himself to succeed.
Is It Any Good?
This is as fun and fast-moving as the rest of the Middle School series, but the gross-out factor in this one is turned way down. Rafe has matured, but he still has the sweetness and relatability readers love. Full of illustrations and some comic strips, this is a good choice for both boys and girls. Embedded in the story are Rafe's drawings, wherein he shows his thoughts in comic form and reveals his insecurities about growing up.
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