This book is often read to younger children. However a middle school aged child will better understand the plot and context of the book. This is a story of a boy coming of age in the country and raising 2 hunting dogs . These dogs become his entire life, confidants, and unfortunately he loses them in a horrific manner at the end of the book. There are some mature violent moments involving hunting and skinning raccoons, a vicious attack by a mountain lion, and the gruesome death of a boy by an axe. All parts are so relevant to the young boy protagonist becoming a man, however children under 11 typically don't understand this. Also within the story are themes of poverty and discrimination, education, bullying, responsibility, compassion, coping with death, and maturing from child to adult. A truly amazing coming of age story. Would highly recommend for kids in Grades 6-8.