NOBODY HUGS A CACTUS and the Power of Will

NOBODY HUGS A CACTUS, by Carter Goodrich, is an excellent new book about the power of will, and the idea that positive change is possible for each and every one of us. Check it out!

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Nobody Hugs a Cactus by Carter Goodrich

The mind is a powerful thing. It’s so powerful, in fact, that it can talk us Into believing things about ourselves, beliefs that form the core of who we are as people and individuals. But sometimes, the things we tell ourselves don’t adequately reflect what we truly believe. Sometimes, we talk and act one way— but we feel totally different on the inside.

So is the case with NOBODY HUGS A CACTUS, by Carter Goodrich, an adorable story about a prickly cactus named Hank who is prickly to everyone around him. Why? Hank staunchly believes he likes to be alone and doesn’t — absolutely does not — want a hug. But is this truly what he wants for himself? When Hank suddenly realizes that no one is even offering to give him a hug, he begins to discover that maybe he is a little lonely after all… and maybe life is a little sweeter— and a little less painful— when we let others in for just a moment. But who wants to hug a cactus?

I love NOBODY HUGS A CACTUS, and it resonated with my family so much. Sometimes, we get stuck with these crazy belief systems that don’t necessarily match who we are. And it’s true of kids, too. If a child is constantly referred to as the “sporty” one, the “silly” one, or the “bully,” they often act in certain ways because they believe this is how they are “supposed” to be. But these names might not be true to who we really are. We can be sporty but still love the thrill of learning dance choreography. We can be silly, but also really serious when it comes to learning about science. We may have made some poor choices in the past, but we may want to try really hard to make better ones.

As parents and educators, it is important that we don’t let kids fall into these patterns, that we don’t identify children with labels — especially ones that do not reflect who the child is on the inside. These labels — these incongruent belief systems — can stifle growth and joy.

I love Hank’s journey in NOBODY HUGS A CACTUS for the way he initially labels himself as prickly, but eventually discovers that he wants and needs more. And I love that he adopts a growth mindset and sets out to fix his challenge.

None of us are “one” thing- we are all complex, multi faceted beings with different needs and desires. It is vitally important that we encourage our kids to play and explore, and help prevent them from falling prey to a defining label that stifles their creativity and prevents them from blossoming into the person they truly hope to become.

Two trunks up for this awesome read!

Want the book? Get it here! NOBODY HUGS A CACTUS, by Carter Goodrich. HEE received an advanced copy of this book for review consideration, but all opinions contained herein are expressly our own.

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Philip Stead Books: MUSIC FOR MISTER MOON, a New Stunner!

Do you love Philip Stead as much as we do? If you adore A SICK DAY FOR AMOS MCGEE, A HOME FOR BIRD, and SAMSON IN THE SNOW, you absolutely must check out MUSIC FOR MISTER MOON, his latest and greatest!

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The Power of Voice: Say Something!, by Peter H. Reynolds

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Ivy Aberdeen's Letter to the World, by Ashley Herring Blake

If you are looking for a fabulous book for any child questioning his or her identity, an LGBQT story, or a thought-provoking read about one tween’s journey to understanding and finding herself, you must check out Ivy Aberdeen’s Letter to the World, by Ashley Herring Blake, stat.

Ivy Aberdeens Letter to the World Best Middle Grade Books and Chapter Books for kids and tweens.jpg

My goodness, can these middle grade books get any better? Where were these phenomenal stories when I was a young girl? I remember when I was 12 years old, and my home in Miami was destroyed by Hurricane Andrew. It was a pivotal year in my life- I had just become a Bat Mitzvah, I was struggling to figure out if I would ever become a graceful teenager and not just a gawky teen, I longed to know if boys would ever look my way, and I wondered if my community would ever get put back together after suffering from total destruction. So many questions, so much angst— and so few stories to help me feel less alone and less confused.

Though my longings were not quite the same, I wish I’d had a book like Ivy Aberdeen’s Letter to the World! Ivy Aberdeen’s angst hit all the right notes and resonated so very deeply. In this story, Ivy’s home is flattened by a tornado that rages through her town. All she manages to save is her pillow which contains her most precious possessions inside a thin case - fancy markers and a journal filled up with drawings, many of which contain illustrations of her and an unidentifiable girl. While staying in a school gym with other displaced persons after the storm, Ivy’s notebook goes missing. When her pictures start turning up in her locker, together with notes encouraging her to be true to herself and come clean with who she is at her core, Ivy begins to hope that the mysterious letters are coming from a girl on whom she has secretly developed a crush. Will Ivy let go of her fears and embrace who she is meant to be?

Ivy Aberdeen’s Letter to the World will be a valuable window book for some and a mirror book for so many others. Ivy fears being unlike those around her- being shunned for wanting something so different than her friends and her big sister. After all, when Ivy’s sister and her best friend stop speaking and Ivy believes it’s because her sister’s friend has come out of the closet, Ivy fears her sister will totally disown her, too. Though the yearnings expressed in Ivy’s story may certainly be different for some tweens, the burning desire to understand who you are at your core, to not just accept those things that make us unique but love them too, is simply universal. We have all experienced, in unique ways and to varying degrees, the unsettling and anxiety-provoking fear that comes hand in hand with feeling so wholly different from those around us.

Ivy Aberdeen’s Letter to the World gave me chills, and it is a book of incredible importance that has an especially significant place in every library, every classroom, and every child’s bookshelf. I am so grateful to the fabulous kidlit authors that continually place these notable books into children’s hands around the globe. There is nothing like a book to make you feel less alone and more understood.

What did you think about Ivy Aberdeen’s Letter to the World? Let us know on our Facebook page, and make sure to follow us there! If you liked this post, make sure to check out our Favorite Middle Grade Books of 2018. We think you will also love these books about tweens discovering themselves: Front Desk, Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus, and Brown Girl Dreaming.

Want the book? Get it here! Ivy Aberdeen’s Letter to the World, by Ashley Herring Blake. *This is an affiliate link.

If you have a tween reader at home, Ivy Aberdeens Letter to the World is a fabulous middle grade book about self identity is an absolute must!.jpg