Published by Shadow Mountain on October 3rd 2017
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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.
Review of Mustaches for Maddie
When a copy of the middle-grade book Mustaches for Maddie arrived in my mailbox, I had to wrestle it from my own sixth grader (also named Maddie) who was intrigued first by the title and then by the cover description.
Inspired by their daughter’s own story (more on this below), authors Morris and Brown have crafted the inspirational, delightful (and sometimes heart-wrenching) story of a wonderfully quirky sixth grader who faces a pretty monumental health situation with bravery and an amazing attitude. They captured the voice of the middle schooler beautifully, the story itself reads more like fiction and less like the biography I was anticipating it to be. I think this will appeal to middle schoolers.
Maddie is spunky, brave and loves to make her friends laugh – especially by wearing funny mustaches. They serve well to get her out of awkward situations, and ultimately help her take on the challenges that she will face, which are not just that of the brain tumor she is diagnosed with, but dealing with a frustration situation that arose with classmates at school.
This book will appeal to fans of Wonder. This ultimately is a story about compassion, one that is sorely needed right now. I think middle schoolers will identify with Maddie – I know mine was, and was glued to the book until I pulled it out of her hands (because I needed to finish it myself). Adults will enjoy this too – and I encourage parents to read this as it opens up a great conversation with your children about compassion, how we view others (and how people treat you is often a reflection of something going on in their own life) – and how laugher is a great coping strategy.
I read Mustaches for Maddie in one sitting and I’m not embarrassed to say I cried a time or two. I daresay you (or your kiddo) might, too – but I also promise you they will laugh even more.
Interested? You can get your own copy here:
Q&A with the Authors of Mustaches for Maddie, Chad Morris and Shelly Brown
Where did you get the idea for this story?
This book was based on the true story of our daughter, Maddie. She thinks fake mustaches are hilarious, has a great sense of humor, and loves to act in plays. In February 2013, she was diagnosed with a tumor on her pituitary gland pressing up against her brain. She courageously faced a very difficult situation, went through one successful surgery, and then later had to face another. Her brothers (she really has four brothers, and two of them are identical twins), teachers (Mrs. Acord and Mrs. Lyon), and friends were extremely supportive.
What about people putting on mustaches for Maddie? Was that real?
People really did put on mustaches, took pictures, and sent them to her, or posted them on the Internet with the hashtag #mustachesformaddie. (It was Jenny Mason’s idea. Thanks, Jenny, and thanks to everyone who made our girl smile.) There were hundreds, if not thousands. A few local news stations even did a stories about it. All those mustaches definitely cheered Maddie up.
Is the rest of the story true?
Maddie faced pressures and problems in school, though Cassie and the difficult situations that happened at the elementary school in this book were entirely made up. Though Yasmin, Lexi, Devin, and others were fictional characters, Maddie had many real friends who helped her. And Maddie did make up games to get more kids involved in her school.
This is the most important question: How did Maddie’s second surgery turn out?
Near the end of 2014, Maddie had a second surgery, and her doctors were able to not only remove a cyst that had grown on the remaining tumor tissue, but miraculously they also removed the rest of her tumor. As of 2017, no signs of the tumor have returned, though Maddie still has an MRI regularly to check. She was an amazing girl before the surgery and has grown to become even stronger, braver, and more caring through her experience.
Many thanks to the authors and Smith Publicity for providing me with an advance copy of the book for review purposes. All thoughts, opinions (and typos) are my own.
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