Following Baxter

by Barbara Kerley (Author)

Following Baxter
Reading Level: 4th – 5th Grade

Eleven-year-old Jordie Marie Wallace has been waiting forever for someone to move in next door, so she is thrilled when Professor Reece arrives: she has a laboratory in her basement and an extraordinary dog named Baxter--who seems to understand everything Jordie says.

Jordie and her younger brother T.J. begin walking Baxter and helping Professor Reese in the lab. But being lab assistants ends up being more than Jordie and T.J. bargained for and leads them to a secret neither of them expected.

When Professor Reece goes missing, it is up to Jordie and T.J. to use their smarts and Baxter's magical powers to find her. Will they be able to save Professor Reece before it's too late?

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Kirkus Reviews

Starred Review

The book subscribes to the white default, with racial diversity hinted at in supporting characters’ names. Happily, Kerley’s execution matches her ambition, resulting in a highly readable story that pairs a rapid-fire plot with a likable protagonist. (Science fiction. 9-12).

Copyright 2018 Kirkus Reviews, LLC Used with permission.

School Library Journal

Gr 4-6--Jordie Marie Wallace is thrilled when she sees that a new neighbor is moving next door. She's even more excited when she sees that her new neighbor, Professor Reese, has a dog named Baxter. When Jordie helps Professor Reese take care of Baxter, she starts to notice strange things happening in Professor Reese's basement. The professor reveals that she is attempting to move things from one place to another through teleportation. When Dr. Reese goes missing and Jordie figures out that she tried to teleport herself, Baxter becomes the key to finding where Professor Reese went. Kerley, known for her picture book biographies and nonfiction, writes with warmth and thoughtfulness in her first work of middle grade fiction. The characters Kerley introduces are fully realized and compelling. Jordie, whose parents are separated, lives primarily with her mom, but often visits her dad, who lives in a studio apartment connected to the family's house. There is enough mystery and science fiction to draw in lovers of those genres, but it is balanced with a realistic portrayal of family and school life that many readers may identify with. A subplot in which Jordie starts to realize she misjudged a classmate who she previously deemed a "bad" kid is particularly compelling. Fans of Rebecca Stead's When You Reach Me and Jennifer Holm's The Fourteenth Goldfish, where characters learn real-life lessons about friendship and compassion through the medium of science fiction, will find similar themes here. VERDICT Relatable and compelling. Fans of realistic and science fiction will find a lot to enjoy.--Celia Dillon, The Brearley School, New York

Copyright 2017 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

Review quotes

"Kerley has written a dog book like no other...Readers will want more adventures with these kooky characters."—Booklist
Barbara Kerley
Edwin Fotheringham's stylish, award-winning illustrations have graced the pages of The New Yorker, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, and many other publications. He has illustrated numerous highly acclaimed nonfiction picture books, such as Barbara Kerley's What to Do About Alice?, a Sibert Honor Book and a Boston Globe-Horn Book Award Honor Book; The Extraordinary Mark Twain (According to Susy), a New York Public Library Best Children's Book; Those Rebels, John & Tom, an NCTE Orbis Pictus Award Honor Book; and A Home for Mr. Emerson, a NAPPA Gold Award winner; as well as younger fiction picture books, such as Pam Muñoz Ryan's Tony Baloney and the eponymous beginning reader series, Jennifer Hamburg's Monkey and Duck Quack Up!, a spring 2015 Indie Favorite, and Andria Rosenbaum's Big Sister, Little Monster. Ed lives in Seattle, Washington. Visit him online at
Barbara Kerley is a two-time Sibert Honoree and a Boston Globe-Horn Book Honoree whose award-winning biographies include What to Do About Alice?, The Extraordinary Mark Twain (According to Susy), Those Rebels, John & Tom, and A Home for Mr. Emerson, all illustrated by Edwin Fotheringham; Tigers & Tea with Toppy, illustrated by Matte Stephens; and The Dinosaurs of Waterhouse Hawkins and Walt Whitman: Words for America, illustrated by Brian Selznick. Kerley's books have all been praised for their lively prose, meticulous research, and artistic presentation style. She lives in Portland, Oregon. Visit her online at
Lexile Measure
Guided Reading Level
Publication date
April 20, 2018

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