I just finished the 2014 Newbery Award winning book Flora and Ulysses by Kate DiCamillo. This book reminds me a little of her other Newbery honor book Because of Winn Dixie (not to be confused with her other Newbery win for The Tale of Despereaux). We have an unlikely "animal" who comes in a helps our protagonist and mends some damaged relationships. It, like Winn Dixie, is a tale of love for others--and ***SMALL SPOILER ALERT*** the animal doesn't die at the end (my son's major complaint about books with animals).
I would suggest this book to students in the fifth through eighth grade students. It is a little quirky, and very fun. There were several quotes or moments in the book that struck me as an adult. One of the quotes can be found toward the end of the novel: "This I did not expect at all. It is what I love about life, that things happen which I do not expect." What a wonderful sentiment!
Visit DiCamillo's website for more about her books, her life, and her philosophy on writing. Click HERE.