Classic middle school novel with literary value
This book is considered a classic and is often examined in middle school. The text is written through an animal's perspective and presents opportunities for discussion on numerous themes and topics (survival, instincts, primitive elements, adapting, wilderness, animal cruelty, the inner animal, and so forth). Personally, this is not the most engaging text in the world. My students have either loved the book (typically students who gravitate to survival books) or have hated the book. This book can be challenging for sensitive students as there is animal cruelty and violence, which is detailed and specific at times. Dogs are killed by other dogs and are also put down due to illness. Also, in chapter 7, there is the use of a racially-derived term that is offensive. Overall, the text is complex with numerous underlying themes and an elaborate writing style. It is one of the fewer texts that exists that has a high Lexile level yet is appropriate for readers 6th-7th (depending on maturity of a 5th grader, it might be acceptable).
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much swearing