Mustaches for Maddie by Chad Morris

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Mustaches for Maddie is a contemporary juvenile fiction novel. I chose this book for my book club and want to have the kids read it. Maddie finds happiness behind brightly colored mustaches. She faces many challenges with her health and still remains positive when life gets hard. She faces challenges at school and makes new friends by being herself. Maddie loves to make people laugh, whether is by creating a new game or putting on a mustache when situations get hard. She is definitely a strong character and I loved that this is based on a true story. I adored the authors commentary at the end of the novel and the note from Maddie herself. I was able to email the author and get a few questions answer for my book club. I recommend this book for juveniles between the ages of 10-14. It is based on the life of a middle school girl.

Here is some of the questions and answers from the author. A special thanks to Chad Morris for answering my questions.

1. What was your inspiration for this book? 

“Mustaches for Maddie is based on the true story of my daughter. She’s funny, loves acting, and thinks fake mustaches are hilarious. She has quite the collection. But  a few years ago, she was diagnosed with a tumor pressing up against her brain. She faced two neurosurgeries with hope, good friends, and humor. In fact, hundreds, if not thousands of people, put on mustaches to make her smile while she was recovering. Maddie is great inspiration. “

2. How does this book relate to kids in this age group. 

“Mustaches for Maddie is a middle-grade book, so targeted at kids in the 3-7 grades. It’s sweet spot is probably more 4-6. And I think it’s especially relatable because Maddie went through her surgeries during those grades. She also deals with friend trouble, and facing her own fears in ways that kids those age can relate to. For example, auditioning for a play and trying to get enough courage to stand up to someone whose doing something mean. “


3. What are some challenges you faced while writing this book?

“Writing a book is always a challenge, but this one had some special difficulties. For example, my wife (Shelly Brown) and I were trying to capture a real person’s voice on the page. That made us nervous. In some ways that was easy. We know her and she has a great personality. In other ways this would be recorded for forever and we really wanted Maddie to like it. We wanted it to be a blessing in her life, rather than a regret. So she read and approved each draft. She also had a note at the end. “

“Another challenge was writing difficulties Maddie faced in school. She had to deal with some very manipulative girls (a less talked about way of bullying) and we didn’t want to immortalize their weaknesses. So we decided to fictionalize Maddie’s trials. We based them off of true moments and themes, but changed the characters and circumstances enough that they felt new. This is also explained in a note at the back of the book. “

4. What is something you like kids to know that decide to read this book? 

“That they can meet any challenge with compassion, humor, and good friends. School Library Journal said that Mustaches for Maddie is “a good readalike for fans of R.J. Palacio’s Wonder.” We think that the same way Wonder teaches people to be kind, Mustaches for Maddie encourages compassion. There is a website that even has teaching guides and activities for school classes and families. “