Friday, December 15, 2017

The Exact Location of Home by Kate Messner

Zig is fascinated by electronics and can fix almost anything.  If only his father were as easy to figure out.  He has seemingly dropped off the face of the Earth and Zig's mom won't tell him anything about where his dad might be only saying that it is up to his dad to share his situation with Zig.  Things at home aren't going well either.  With his mom not able to pay all their bills, they soon find themselves evicted and living in a homeless shelter - a secret Zig keeps from his two closest friends.  While geocaching, Zig runs into notes from another explorer who calls himself "Senior Searcher".  Convinced that is his dad, Zig becomes focused on finding all of Senior's caches, sure they will eventually lead him to his father.

The real meat of this story is how becoming homeless affects Zig's day to day life.  For those who have been lucky enough to never be homeless, we look at it from a different set of eyes than is presented in Messner's book.  Zig's lack of privacy in the shelter leads to his inability to do his homework and his grades fall.  Even more basic, he doesn't have a pencil with which to do his homework and it berated by teachers who can't understand why someone wouldn't have a pencil at home.  Of course the wonderful librarian leaves out pencils and paper for Zig each day.  :-)  In class, Zig has to listen to a teacher talk about the poor people they are going to help as a class project without realizing that two of her own students are part of that group.  For me as a teacher it was a good reminder that the kids acting out are always doing so for reasons other than just being poorly behaved.  Oh, sure, there's the story about what has happened with his dad, but that didn't resonate with me nearly as much.  Messner has again put together an entirely appropriate middle grades book that ends up tackling a serious subject.

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