Sticks & Stones

Sticks & StonesSticks & Stones
by Abby Cooper
Grades 4 & up

Elyse was born with a rare disorder that causes the words people call her to actually appear on her skin. The nice words (awesome, cool, fun) feel good, but the bad words (loser, stupid, freak) itch horribly. It was fine in elementary school, when the teachers could make sure that no one called her mean names. Now that she is in sixth grade, though, she does not have a safety net. Every name she hears about herself, including the ones she despairingly thinks about herself, shows up on her arms and legs. Her best friend ditched her for the popular crowd, her crush dumped her, and Elyse has taken to eating her lunch in the bathroom. She wears long sleeves and long pants so no one else will see what is happening to her. Everything changes when the competition for Explorer Leader is announced. Big posters are hung of former leaders, each with compliments written all around. Elyse knows that these are the words she wants. If only she can be chosen as Explorer Leader, then all will be right. But there is only one Explorer Leader for the whole sixth grade and the competition is fierce. Elyse must step out of her comfort zone and believe in herself if she has any chance of making it happen. Luckily, she also has a series of anonymous notes cheering her on. An important book about being kind to yourself and the power of words. Highly recommended for grades 4 & up.

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