Homeless – Laurie Halse Anderson

HomelessReading level: 4.1
Series: Wild at Heart/Vet Volunteers book 2
Genre: General fiction
ELL-Friendly: Yes
Library recommendation: Middle school

I have fond memories of reading these Wild at Heart books in middle school. These, along with James Herriot’s books, inspired me to be a vet-author…which lasted several years until I realized I wanted to teach. While Homeless is part of a series, each book can stand alone. All of these books are about 6th graders who are vet volunteers, and I could see animal-loving middle schoolers devouring this series.

It’s got a pretty straight-forward lesson: listen to the adults (i.e. don’t stick your hand in a cage that has a feral cat), and don’t give up on your dream. Sunita, the main character, and I share the same dream: to have a cat of our own. Some day, Sunita. Some day.

As you may have guessed, Sunita is Indian. It doesn’t play into this book at all, except when her mother cooks and Indian meal for Sunita and her friends. As far as I know, the other kid volunteers and narrators of other books in this series are all white. But they could still be diverse in other ways. To quote Kevin Malone from The Office, “We see. Weeee seeee,” aka I’ll get back to you when I read other books in the series.

This book has some academic language having to deal with medical concepts and veterinarian dealings, but most unfamiliar words are explained. Therefore, I think it’s perfectly ELL-friendly. It’s definitely a middle school book, but a beginner ELL in 9-10th grade may find it useful, especially if they’re interested in the subject.

And yes, ladies and gentlemen, this Laurie Halse Anderson is the very same lady who wrote Speak. I’m impressed with her ability to write such different types of stories.

I really want a cat now. And this is post #100! Wooo!

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