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The Exact Location of Home Hardcover – September 12, 2017
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"Authentic . . . . Middle school worries and social issues skillfully woven into a moving, hopeful, STEM-related tale." - starred review, Kirkus Reviews
"Vivid characters and situations, along with clear, simple writing and plotting, make this an accessible and enlightening read . . . A gentle but truthful look at poverty and homelessness." - starred review, School Library Journal
"Messner delivers a sensitive and realistic portrayal of financial stress, the realities of living in a shelter, and how both take a toll. Zig’s crush on Gianna and the mystery surrounding Zig’s father will keep readers hooked, but it’s his bonds with his mother and friends that will stay with them." - Publishers Weekly
"Messner gently overturns some stereotypes about homeless shelters and their residents." - Booklist
"Laced with humor and heart . . . an insightful and affecting read." - Booklist on THE BRILLIANT FALL OF GIANNA Z
"An engaging saga." - Kirkus Reviews on THE BRILLIANT FALL OF GIANNA Z
"Plot twists keep readers engaged, and Messner's warm and humorous tone will capture even reluctant readers." - School Library Journal on THE BRILLIANT FALL OF GIANNA Z
"An empathetic, beautiful, magical, fiercely necessary book that stares unflinchingly at the very real challenges contemporary kids face and gently assures them they are not alone. Kate Messner gives her readers a story to cherish." - Anne Ursu, author of BREADCRUMBS on THE SEVENTH WISH
"Hopeful, empathetic, and unusually enlightening." - starred review, Kirkus Reviews on THE SEVENTH WISH
"It's no surprise that Kate Messner’s magic pen could write a charming, moving, funny, and ultimately very surprising story about a magic pencil!" - Wendy Mass, New York Times bestselling author of 11 BIRTHDAYS on ALL THE ANSWERS
About the Author
Kate Messner is a former middle-school English teacher and the author of E. B. White Read Aloud Award winner The Brilliant Fall of Gianna Z. and its companion, The Exact Location of Home; Sugar and Ice; Eye of the Storm; Wake Up Missing; All the Answers; The Seventh Wish; Capture the Flag; Hide and Seek; the Marty McGuire chapter book series; the Ranger in Time chapter book series; and several picture books. She lives on Lake Champlain with her husband and two kids. When she's not reading or writing, she loves hiking, kayaking, biking, and watching thunderstorms over the lake. www.katemessner.com
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Things are not going well for Zig and his mom since his dad has also stopped sending child support. They are a couple of months behind on their rent and are going to be evicted. Zig can't understand why his mother won't contact his dad for help. He feels certain that she is keeping secrets from him.
Zig has a couple of good friends Ruby and Gianna. They spend time together going to rummage sales. Zig is always looking for electronics. He hits the jackpot at one sale when a widow is selling some of her husbands projects which include a GPS unit. The kids know about geocaching because they learned about it in science class. When they decide to give geocaching a try, Zip discovers a cacher named Senior Searcher and become convinced that it is his father who is Senior Searcher.
Zig decides to find Senior Searcher and convinces his friends to help him. They have a number of adventures finding the caches. Zig becomes sort of obsessed with the search as the rest of his life falls apart. He and his mom are evicted and find themselves living in a shelter after a couple of days living in their car. There he meets another woman and her son Scoop who are also homeless after fleeing an abusive husband and father.
His obsession with finding his father and his lack of home are causing problems at school. It is hard to do his homework in the shelter and he often doesn't have school supplies. Seeing the different ways teachers helped or hindered him was interesting. His social studies teacher was big on doing community service to help the "unfortunate" but she didn't seem to realize that she could have some homeless kids sitting in the desks in front of her. Meanwhile, the librarian just quietly helped by leaving pencils and paper out for Zig to use without asking if he needed them.
I also really liked the references to LIBRARY LION by Michelle Knutson. It was Scoop's favorite book and he often begged to have it read to him. It is one of my favorite books too. I always loved reading it to my students. I liked the lessons that both Zig and Scoop got from the book: sometimes people do change as Mr. McBee did and sometimes home isn't exactly what you might think it is.
This was an excellent, engaging story.
With much heart, hope, reality, and quirkiness, Zig shares with his readers his experience walking through a major life change, the mystery of where his father is, new feelings about his best friend Gianna, and how someone defines home.
I really appreciated Zig's love for building and fixing electronics and how his discovery of geocaching led to finding himself and much more. Messner writes about homelessness, life in a shelter, and financial problems masterfully and tenderly. Her readers are encouraged to reconsider their preconceived notions of all of the above in a gentle and truthful way.
It was an added bonus that Zig, Gianna, and Ruby continue their love of the outdoors through this book. The images of the lake, heron, and outdoor spaces filled me with peace and excitement.
I wish books about real kids dealing with real life issues had been around when I was in middle school.
This is a must-read.
This middle grade book touches on so many wonderful topics: single parents trying to make ends meet, evictions, homelessness, wonderful friendships, environmental issues, sadness when you lose a loved one and even a bit of spousal abuse. I immediately felt all of the emotions that Zig was portraying and trying to cope with. Unfortunately, these are many situations that children have to endure on a daily basis. It's equally important to introduce children to these scenarios so they can develop a sense of empathy if they ever encounter it through a friend. You have to love a good story that makes you think that every situation comes with a different perspective. Hopefully it will teach readers to not be so quick to place judgement on others.
I was really excited to read this book since it included geocaching. The story did a wonderful job of introducing and explaining this fun hobby. I've been finding and hiding geocaches with my family since 2011. It's a great activity to do with kids!! The author did a great job describing how the game works, the uses of a GPS, the various locations you can find a hide or the different containers they come in. I also loved that she included several ciphers. I hope it encourages some new players to look it up and join.
Overall, this was a really great story. After reading a few other reviews, I've realized that the author has written an earlier book that includes some of the same characters: The Brilliant Fall of Gianna Z. I'd definitely be interested in going back and reading that one now!
Most recent customer reviews
A MILLION STARS to this simultaneously heartbreaking and uplifting middle grade novel...Read more