When perpetual new kid Robyn signs up her special needs dogs for agility training, she gets an unexpected lesson in friendship in this “well-paced…thoughtful” (Kirkus Reviews) novel from the author of We Could Be Heroes and Susie B. Won’t Back Down.
Robyn Kellen has been the new kid six times. She’s practically an expert on the subject and has developed foolproof rules to help her get by: Blend in, don’t go looking for trouble, and move on. Unfortunately, Robyn’s mom has a rule, too: Robyn must do an after-school activity.
When Robyn discovers a dog agility class, she thinks she’s found the perfect thing—but then her dogs, Sundae and Fudge, are rejected from the class. Sundae won’t do anything without Fudge, and Fudge is deaf and blind, and the instructor refuses to change the rules to fit their needs. Luckily, the instructor’s grandson, Nestor—a legend at Robyn’s new school—offers Robyn a deal: If she helps him with math, he’ll train Sundae and Fudge. Problem is, Robyn isn’t so great at math herself, so she’s forced to recruit the class outcast, Alejandra, to help.
Suddenly, Robyn finds herself surrounded by people who do anything but blend in—and sticking to her rules becomes harder than ever. But as Robyn learns how to adapt the rules of agility for Sundae and Fudge, she will find that some rules are worth breaking altogether.
Margaret Finnegan is the author of the Junior Library Guild Selections New Kids and Underdogs, We Could Be Heroes, and Susie B. Won’t Back Down. Her other work has appeared in FamilyFun, the Los Angeles Times, Salon, and other publications. She lives in South Pasadena, California, where she enjoys spending time with her family, walking her dog, and baking really good chocolate cakes. Visit her online at MargaretFinnegan.com.
Why We Love It
“As a three-time new kid with a passion for animal and disability advocacy, this book felt like it was made for me, but with its universal themes and laugh-out-loud humor, there is truly something for everyone here. From the unique challenges that come with being the new kid, to the sometimes ill-intentioned sympathy people have for those they see as lesser or other, to the scariness and necessity of putting yourself out there, this story explores so many nuanced areas of kid life with thoughtfulness and authenticity.”
—Alex B., Editor, on New Kids and Underdogs
Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers (October 25, 2022)
"In this well-paced work that relatably unpacks core aspects of middle school life, Robyn realizes as her rules backfire that as much as she wants others to know her whole story, she needs to be open to learning theirs as well . . . A thoughtful story about learning to look beneath the surface and be a better friend."
– Kirkus Reviews
"With plenty of support, Robyn learns in her own time how her rules might be limiting her, making final realizations both hard-won and satisfying in this assured, dynamic-aware novel from Finnegan."