Friday, November 18, 2016

Sticks and Stones

Elyse has a rare genetic disorder that makes the words and names people call her appear on her skin.  The bad ones are itchy, and the nice ones feel pleasant.  When she was little, her doctor would come to school and do a presentation about CAV.  At first, everyone thought it was cool, but then they would just forget about it and see Elyse.

Now that she's in middle school, she just wants to be normal, so instead of making a big deal about CAV, she wears long sleeve shirts and jeans.  There has been another development in her CAV.  It's not just the names other people call her aloud that appear on her skin.  Now, the words she thinks about herself are showing up, too.

Her greatest wish is to become the Explorer Leader for the annual 6th grade trip.  This person gets to be in charge of the planning, and everyone always says nice things about the Explorer Leader.  Elyse knows if she could get the job, all those nice words could keep her going for a long time.

But Elyse has not really made much of an impression in middle school.  She's been keeping to herself, and she hasn't really met any new people.  Her former best friend has been hanging out with the popular girls leaving Elyse on her own.  That's when she starts getting notes written on blue paper encouraging her make new friends and step out of her comfort zone.  Who is sending the mysterious notes?  Will the sender's advice help Elyse become Explorer Leader and get all those positive words?

This is Abby Cooper's first novel, and there is a lot to like here.  The cover art is great, very eye-catching, so kudos to the design team.  Also, I really like the concept of the book, and the fact that Elyse's self-talk is more important than what others say.  The book starts out great, but it gets a little preachy in the end.  Also, I really wanted someone to tell the mom to back off.  Her smothering is a big part of Elyse's issues.

Overall, I would recommend this book.  The message is important, and kids will like it.  Give this one to fans of Wonder.

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