Mustaches for Maddie

MORRIS, Chad and . 5 CDs. 5:04 hrs. Shadow Mountain. Oct. 2017. $24.99. ISBN 9781629723624.
Gr 3–6—Morris and Brown share the story of their daughter, 12-year-old Maddie, a charming young lady who loves mustaches, potatoes, and performing on stage—especially while wearing a mustache! She has a vivid imagination that helps her invent games and face most challenges, and her biggest problem seems to be bossy classmate Cassie, whose favor Maddie is willing to risk by challenging her for the best part in the upcoming school play. But then Maddie is diagnosed with a tumor that is pressing on her brain and faces not one but two risky surgeries. With her imagination and courage growing stronger as the operations loom nearer, Maddie stands up to her bully, and to her "ugly tumor monster"; she demonstrates that everyone deserves kindness and consideration, since most people are facing fears and problems of their own. She also learns that she has the support of her classmates and of people around the world who contribute to a viral posting of #MustachesForMaddie. Co-author Brown performs Maddie's story wonderfully; her enthusiasm and emotion shine through without seeming forced or false, making Maddie an even more appealing heroine. The little brothers' charming voices are appropriately childish and there is enough variation among characters to differentiate them from one another. The book's inspiration and the results of her treatments are explained in the concluding author's note by Brown and a letter from Maddie.
VERDICT Maddie is a strong, resourceful, and charming role model who addresses strong topics of bullying, divorce, and illness without being preachy or trite. Hearing her voice through her mother's adds much to her appeal.

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