"Elyse's struggles toward self-confidence will resonate with fans of R.J. Palacio's Wonder (2012) and all readers learning how to be comfortable in their own skins."
- Kirkus starred review
Sticks & Stones has been translated into 3 languages and was a finalist for the Minnesota Book Award.
Ever since she was a baby, the words people use to describe Elyse have instantly appeared on her arms and legs. At first it was just “cute” and “adorable,” but as she's gotten older and kids have gotten meaner, words like “loser” and “pathetic” appear, and those words bubble up and itch. And then there are words like “interesting,” which she's not really sure how to feel about. Now she’s starting middle school, and just as her friends who used to accept and protect her are drifting away, and she’s been dumped by her very first boyfriend, and worst of all, the words she thinks about herself are starting to appear, she receives an anonymous note saying, “I know who you are, and I know what you're dealing with. I want to help.” As Elyse works to solve the mystery of who has sent her this note, she also finds new ways to accept who she is and to become her best self.
"A quirky, clever, and lighthearted look at what it means to accept oneself. Highly recommended for most middle grade collections." - School Library Journal
"Cooper's stance on bullying is clear: words can - and do - hurt, but their power over you is only as strong as you allow them to be." - Publishers Weekly
"Sticks and Stones takes an insightful and inventive look at the impact that name-calling has on us." - B&N Kids
"STICKS AND STONES is the best book. Every single child should read it." - Autumn, 4th grader
"STICKS AND STONES is amazing! It is original and made me keep reading it. I couldn't put it down! This story shows how kindness can affect people, and I think the lesson is great. The plot twist at the end made me just say, "WHAT!?!". Out of all the things that could have happened, that surprised me the most, which made it even more fun to read. This is a great novel, and it should be a must read for middle grade readers!" - Harrison, 6th grader
"Middle grader readers, get ready to fall in love with Elyse! For someone dealing with such a seemingly traumatic problem, Elyse rarely lets it get the best of her. She's a protagonist so easy to identify with and to root for, even if she keeps some of her best personality traits to herself at first. Cooper manages what could be a heavy or didactic topic with so much humor and heart. Elyse's inner dialogue is laugh-out-loud funny at many points--particularly as she manages her relationship with her second boyfriend, Nice Andy (oh, haven't we all been there before!). She's a completely authentic contemporary American middle schooler." - Jenn Bishop, author of The Distance to Home
"In this book, Cooper masterfully delves into questions of self-worth and the words we use to describe ourselves and others. If we had to wear the words we thought about ourselves, would we be more careful of our thoughts? If others had to wear the words we called them, would we be more careful of what we said? Questions that I need to ask myself more often. Questions I wish others would ask themselves more often." - Janet Sumner Johnson, author of The Last Great Adventure of the PB&J Society
"I can't wait for middle grade readers to connect with this book. They will be entertained, engrossed, and changed. Every classroom library needs a copy of STICKS AND STONES! Highly recommend!" - Victoria Coe, author of Fenway and Hattie