New Kids and Underdogs (Hardcover)

New Kids and Underdogs By Margaret Finnegan Cover Image

New Kids and Underdogs (Hardcover)


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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 UnderdogsWe Could Be Heroes, and Susie B. Won’t Back Down. Her other work has appeared in FamilyFun, the Los Angeles TimesSalon, 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
Product Details ISBN: 9781534496408
ISBN-10: 1534496408
Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: October 25th, 2022
Pages: 288
Language: English
"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."
Publishers Weekly