Monday, May 4, 2020

THE EXACT LOCATION OF HOME by Kate Messner - A story about coping with and accepting disappointments

It’s been a while since I’ve reviewed any middle grade books, but I miss them! Is it possible to be too busy to read much? I’ve been working hard to create positive experiences for my kindergarten students through distance learning, as well as squeezing in a little time for working on my own novel. Then there’s all the spring gardening... But I’m so happy to be back to reading, because some days all I want to do is escape into a good book.

This week, I’m pleased to be showcasing this book from author Kate Messner. From what I can tell, Kate loves to ask questions about the world and her curiosity leads her to write some very interesting stories with fun and realistic characters.

Description from the publisher:

Kirby "Zig" Zigonski lives for the world of simple circuits, light bulbs, buzzers, and motors. Electronics are, after all, much more predictable than most people--especially his father, who he hasn't seen in over a year. When his dad's latest visit is canceled with no explanation and his mom seems to be hiding something, Zig turns to his best friend Gianna and a new gizmo--a garage sale GPS unit--for help. Convinced that his dad is leaving clues around town to explain his absence, Zig sets out to find him. Following one clue after another, logging mile after mile, Zig soon discovers that people aren't always what they seem . . . and sometimes, there's more than one set of coordinates for home.

The Exact Location of Home by Kate Messner was published by Bloomsbury in 2017.

Why you want to read this book…

First of all, it’s about geocaching! This is a really fun hobby where you get to hike and hunt for treasures at the same time. The main character in this book also loves to create and tinker with electronics. He’s struggling with his feelings and his relationship with his father, who he hasn’t seen in a long time. I really liked how his friends supported him through the process of learning about what was going on with his father and the feelings he was having about it. 
One last fun thing I want to mention about this book is that it connects to the wonderful THE BRILLIANT FALL OF GIANNA Z, the first middle grade book Kate Messner had published.  


He’s not coming.
The thought’s been buzzing around my brain all day like a mosquito that gets in the tent on a camping trip. It comes back, no matter how many times I swat it away.
I write my name on my English paper. Kirby Zigonski, and today, I add the Jr. at the end.

If you’re a writer…

You’ve probably read at least one book by Kate Messner. If you’ve read The Brilliant Fall of Gianna Z, this one is an interesting follow up since the characters inhabit the same world and setting. If you haven’t read any of Kate Messner’s books and you write middle grade, I recommend her books as mentor texts for plotting and building character through small details and dialogue. As you can tell from the opening lines of this book, it’s a great one to use as a mentor text for getting into the point of view of the character and seeing the world from their eyes.

If you’re an educator…

This is a good story for a read aloud or book club to open up discussions about feelings of disappointment and loss that isn’t related to a death, but the other kinds of loss that we experience as we travel through life. Some ideas for using this book in your classroom:
·        provide a selection of books by Kate Messner to read as part of an “Author of the Month” display with post-its to record thoughts or index cards for posting a mini-review on a bulletin board
·        display in conjunction with a “tinker centre” or a unit on electronics
·        design a geocache box or a treasure map for a classroom treasure hunt

Kate Messner has written many other books for kids – check out her website for info about them as well as resources and activities for teachers. She has also put together a wonderful list of resources for learning from anywhere - Read, Wonder and Learn.

If you’d like to know my thoughts on some of her books, here’s the list of reviews on That’s Another Story (a small sampling of her work):
Middle Grade
Picture Books

If you’re looking for another great list of middle grade books to read, check out Marvelous Middle Grade Monday on Greg Pattridge's blog.


  1. I learned about geocaching from a critique partner who was writing a book with this as part of the plot. This sounds like a fantastic book, and I'm curious what happened to his dad.

  2. What an interesting story line! You have intrigued me enough with your review to add it to my summer reading list.

  3. This sounds like a really fun way for kids to solve a mystery. I like everything I have read by Kate Messner. I will look for this one. Thanks for the heads up.


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