Fourth Grade Journey

A Fourth Grade Teacher's Journey Through the World of Books

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Sticks and Stones by Abby Cooper

How I Heard About It:  A few weeks before I attended NerdCamp in Michigan, I started to hear about this novel via Twitter conversations.  I also found out that Abby Cooper was going to be at NerdCamp.  Her new novel was being released June 12th which was the day we would be at camp.  I was excited to read the book and meet Abby.  The good news was I was able to meet Abby, but the bad news was the book sold out before I had a chance to buy.  I had to wait until I returned home to buy my own copy.  

What It Is About:   It is difficult to start middle-school.  This is a universal fact.  But for Elyse it is even more difficult.  She was diagnosed with CAV (cognadjivisibilitis) when she was little.  This is a disease when people speak words to describe Elyse, the words appear on her arms and legs.  The "good" words are fine, but the "bad" words are painful and itchy.  She didn't mind this diagnosis when she first started school, but the other children thought it was pretty cool and they used great words to describe Elyse.  As she went through school she surrounded herself with friends that supported her and her "illness."  Starting middle-school is a whole new situation.  Her close friends venture out to meet new people and become part of the "in crowd."  Elyse finds herself fighting her disease more than ever as middle-school students are not always as kind as younger children.  She begins to have some "not-so-nice" words appear on her skin which worries both her parents and herself.  One day Elyse finds a secret note that encourages her to make the most of her sixth grade year.  She isn't sure who the note is from, but she likes what it says and decides to follow the advice written on the note.  As the year progresses, she receives more and more "secret" notes and finds herself asserting herself and trying new things that she isn't sure she would have done without the encouragement.  

What I Thought Of It:  As I mentioned I was bummed that I didn't get a copy of the novel at NerdCamp, but was thrilled to obtain one when I returned home.  I started the book on Sunday afternoon at the pool, but kept getting distracted by conversation.  I hunkered down on my new patio Monday afternoon and read the rest of the story.  This book lived up to all the positive praise that I had heard before reading.  The plot was unique, fresh, and thought-provoking.  Elyse was a character that wove its way into my heart and opened me up to new situations and possibilities.  The story-line moved along at a perfect pace and kept my interest the entire read.  I so enjoyed all of the supporting characters that added greatly to the plot.  There were many wonderful and deep "life lessons" woven throughout the story which would lead to great classroom discussions.  The "mystery" of the note giver was a highlight of the book for me.  I look forward to sharing this novel with my class when we get back to school in September.  

Who Should Read It:  This is the perfect story geared toward readers in fourth, fifth, and sixth grade.  They will be able to relate to so many elements in the story.  There are a few "mature" words and/or ideas used so some teachers may want to use it with fifth grade and above.  Middle-school readers will also find great joy with the book.  I'm thinking it will make for a terrific read aloud with my fourth graders at the beginning of the school year.  It will lead to many important discussions about the relationships we have with each other.  Happy Reading!  

Rating:  5 STARS out of 5 Stars

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