Mustaches for Maddie

By Chad Morris and Shelly Brown. Shadow Mountain, 2017. 256 pages. $16.99/hardcover; $7.99/paperback or eBook. Recommended for ages 8–11.

Wow! I just finished reading Mustaches for Maddie. I laughed! I cried! I loved it!

This book is based on the true story of a 12-year-old girl with a brain tumor who has one operation after another. How in the world could you laugh about that? Well, the authors, Maddie’s parents, found a way to laugh and so did Maddie. She has this quirky obsession with mustaches and thinks everything is better and funnier with a mustache. Throughout the story, she always has a pocket full of mustaches in all colors and shapes. It’s just her thing. Whenever she’s sad or trying to get someone’s attention, she puts on a mustache. She is right! That is pretty funny. I laughed.

The dialogue in this book is spot on. I could hear the voices of kids talking to each other on the playground and of her parents giving advice as parents do. Maddie has some social problems at school. One girl rules the roost and ostracizes others including Maddie. Maddie learns to work around this girl’s bad behavior—a lesson that all kids need to know and a good topic of discussion for First-day school. Maddie also learns that 12-year-old boys can be friends with girls and it is not difficult to talk with them. Just do it! The games Maddie creates for the kids to play are so much fun. I laughed.

Perhaps the best part is Maddie’s inner dialogue (things she thinks but does not say). You seldom know what another person is thinking, but this book tells you what Maddie is thinking. Some of it is pretty funny.

Okay, I cried. Even thinking about a 12-year-old having a brain tumor is sad (the real Maddie was diagnosed when she was nine). I can only imagine how she felt, let alone her parents and family. In the book, everyone approaches the situation in a straightforward manner. Maddie knows what the problem is, and the doctors take the time to explain it to her and her parents. Then it’s explained to her class at school in a remarkably kind and inclusive way. Her friends rally.

Her operations are successful. I can share that much. You will have to read the book to learn how her friends and family helped her and how her ordeal helped everyone around her to be more understanding and empathetic. The book provides a wonderful platform for discussion with First-day school children and will give even the adults something to think about. Smile, be happy, and help others.

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