Thursday, October 5, 2017

Mustaches for Maddie by Chad Morris and Shelly Brown

Maddie is a normal twelve-year-old girl. Well, except for the fake mustaches she carries in her pocket. She likes to make people laugh and slapping on a mustache, especially a fuzzy pink or neon green one, always gets a smile. Maddie hopes that the class queen, Cassie, will find her mustaches as funny as she does and want to play with her at recess. She's been self-conscious lately because her right arm only feels normal when it's curled against her chest and she's constantly tripping over her feet. But that's probably just part of growing up and not something weird, right?

When Maddie's arm continues to bother her, her parents take her to a doctor who gives them a shocking diagnosis: the cause of the abnormal behavior of her limbs is a brain tumor and she must have surgery to remove it. She's understandably afraid as he describes the procedure, but knows she must find a way to be brave and must face her fears--all of them--at the hospital, at home and at school.

She will need all of her courage not only to face her illness, but also to face Cassie at school. Both Cassie and Maddie are auditioning for the same role in the school play, but when Cassie accuses Maddie of lying about her tumor in order to get attention, Cassie's bossiness turns into bullying.

And as Maddie's surgery approaches, she begins to worry more and more about the outcome. What if something goes wrong? What if the doctors don't get all the tumor out of her brain? What will happen to her family? What will happen to her?

It will take all of Maddie's vibrant imagination, a lot of kindness-both given and received-and of course, the perfect mustache to overcome the tough stuff ahead of her.

It's been another tough week in the world.  There is so much loss and devastation swirling around.  So much hurt, injustice and evil.  It can sometimes feel so overwhelming.  That's why books like this are important, I think.  They serve as a reminder that while there are hard things, there are good things too.  We can be the good things for other people.  We can make a difference, however small, through kindness and compassion for other people.  I want to quote a small part of the afterwords in this book, written by Maddie herself.

"We don't always realize what trials other people are going through.  Sometimes it takes courage to be kind to some people.  But we need to always stick up for what's right.  You can do it.  Anytime, anywhere, you can have compassion.  Everybody needs a friend and that friend can be you."

If only everyone believed this and acted on it.

Compassion:  a feeling of deep sympathy and sorrow for another who is stricken by misfortune, accompanied by a strong desire to alleviate the suffering.

This book is perfectly suited for middle grade readers.  It's also perfect to be read aloud to younger children.  It provides so many great opportunities to talk with your children, grandchildren, students, etc. about kindness and how to deal with situations and people that are hard to understand.  I think one of the most important lessons we can teach our children is how to be kind.  Compassion matters.

While this book is a work of fiction, it is based on a true story.  I LOVE the cover!!!  I love Maddie's love for mustaches and how infectious it became for those around her.  I loved that each chapter of this book had a different kind of mustache.  It made me smile.  This book brought back a bit of hope for me this week, renewed my belief that there is good in this world and that I need to work even harder to make sure I'm a part of that good.

My thanks to the publisher, Shadow Mountain, for providing a copy of this book for me.


  1. One of the things I have loved most about the middle grades books I have read is the way they convey empathy and compassion. This book sounds lovely.

  2. Who wouldn't fall in love with a character like Maddie. I love the mustaches. :-)
    sherry @ fundinmental


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