Sticks & Stones

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.

  • Minnesota Book Award Finalist, 2017
  • Translated into 3 languages
  • Amazon Editors’ Pick, best books 9-12
  • Nominated for the Sakura Medal, 2018
  • Selected for All-School Reads: Southwest Middle School, Zurich International School

Publisher: ‎ Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR) (July 12, 2016)

Hardcover: ‎ 288 pages

ISBN‏: ‎ 9780374302870

Reading age: ‎ 10 – 12 years

Lexile measure ‏: ‎ 750L

Praise for Sticks & Stones

“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

“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

“Elyse narrates every step of her growth and setbacks in ways that young readers will find easy to follow, and they will certainly recognize both the pendulum swing of her emotions.” —Bulletin of the Center of Children’s Books

“STICKS AND STONES is the best book. Every single child should read it.” —Autumn, 4th grader

“Every classroom library needs a copy of STICKS AND STONES!” —Victoria Coe, author of Fenway & Hattie

“Thanks for writing the PERFECT book my kiddos needed to read last year. It was a rough group in their treatment of each other, and after we shared your book together, you could literally FEEL the atmosphere transform in the room. The last month of school was a DREAM and I frequently invoked Elyse’s name if kids were irritated with each other to remind them how their words mattered.” —Mrs. S., 5th grade teacher

Sticks and Stones takes an insightful and inventive look at the impact that name-calling has on us.” —Barnes & Noble Kids blog