Book Review of Squint by Chad Morris and Shelly Brown

Squint by Chad Morris and Shelly Brown

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Book Review of Squint by Chad Morris and Shelly Brown

I have worn glasses since second grade, and contacts since seventh grade. Pretty much, I don’t remember a time when I didn’t need glasses to see. I’ve never been made fun of or teased because of my glasses, thankfully, but the cover of this book totally had me curious! I loved Mustaches For Maddie, so when I saw that Squint was written by Chad Morris and Shelly Brown I knew I needed to read it. And I’m so glad I did. They have become quite the duo!


“Flint loves to draw. In fact, he’s furiously trying to finish his comic book so he can be the youngest winner of the ‘Find a Comic Star’ contest. He’s also rushing to finish because he has keratoconus—an eye disease that could eventually make him blind.

McKell is the new girl at school and immediately hangs with the popular kids. Except McKell’s not a fan of the way her friends treat this boy they call ‘Squint.’ He seems nice and really talented. He draws awesome pictures of superheroes. McKell wants to get to know him, but is it worth the risk? What if her friends catch her hanging with the kid who squints all the time?

McKell has a hidden talent of her own but doesn’t share it for fear of being judged. Her terminally ill brother, Danny, challenges McKell to share her love of poetry and songwriting. Flint seems like someone she could trust. Someone who would never laugh at her. Someone who is as good and brave as the superhero in Flint’s comic book.

Squint is the inspiring story of two new friends dealing with their own challenges, who learn to trust each other, believe in themselves, and begin to truly see what matters most.”

My Book Review:

What a great book! As I stated above, I love the way that Chad Morris and Shelly Brown write together. The voice in their stories just draws you in. It’s so real. It is full of emotion, expectations, and energy. It’s easy to read and understand, and yet it has an underlying depth to it. Although it’s not all rainbows and unicorns, it has such a positive feeling to it. The voice fits the characters and situations in the book perfectly.

This book feels similar to Wonder by R.J. Palacio. There are some similarities there as well. Flint, the main character, has a disability and the kids at school make fun of him, tease him, and stay away from him. Then someone is brave enough to look past the thick glasses and quirky habits. McKell wants to fit in with the popular crowd, but she doesn’t like how they treat Flint, also known as Squint. Her brother gives her these challenges to do, and since she’s afraid that the popular crowd will make fun of her for doing them, she asks Squint to accompany and help her.

Squint is not used to people actually paying attention to him and being nice to him. At first he doesn’t trust McKell because he expects it all to be a prank. But then it’s not. She genuinely wants to be with him. Now, she may still want to also be a part of the popular gang, but she makes it clear to Squint that she doesn’t like how they treat him. She’s nice, caring, talented, friendly, and kind. She has the ability to look past the glasses and quirks to find the real Flint.

Flint is also a great character. He used to be normal like everyone else. He played football, had friends, and could see perfectly. Then one day he began losing his eyesight. The diagnosis was keratoconus. It’s an eye disease. This is how Flint explains it in the book:

“It’s called keratoconus,” I said. “It’s not like super rare or anything. There may even be someone else in the school with it, but mine is pretty bad. Well, really bad. My corneas are getting thinner and thinner, and that makes my eyes bulge. It’s like the windshield of my eye to too weak to hold its shape ball…It makes everything look a bit like a funhouse mirror.”

I won’t complain about my poor eyesight after reading about Flint’s disease!

I think it’s great how Chad Morris and Shelly Brown use their books to bring attention to different situations in people’s lives. The more we talk, the more we realize how similar we are. The more books kids can read about how being different is ok, the better. If kids can read more books on how to treat people, the better off we’ll all be. We like to think we’re different. We’re unique, for sure. But we’re the same. We all want to fit in, have friends, be loved, and not be made fun of or teased. I think everyone wants to feel safe and acknowledged. It’s the relationships and the connections that matter.

I love books that teach such valuable lessons in such a great way. It’s a great reminder for readers of all ages that how we treat people is important. Everyone has a story. Everyone is fighting a battle. Some battles are front and center while others are more hidden. Learning to look past differences and see the real person behind the façade is a skill we can all improve in. Learning to accept and love despite differences is also something needed today. Also, there are always two sides to every story. Many times we get caught up in our own thoughts and feelings, and forget that others are involved, and they have feelings too. Thank you Chad and Shelly for writing stories that inspire, teach, and uplift!  

Content Rating PGRating: PG (It’s clean, but there is some minor violence with fights, mean words, and bullies.)

Recommendation: Middle Graders (4th-6th) and up

My Rating: 4.5/5

4.5 Star Rating


Disclosure: I did receive a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.


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Similar Titles You May Be Interested In:

mustaches for maddie Wonder by R.J. Palacio  the hundred dresses

[Book Review] Mustaches for Maddie by Chad Morris and Shelly Brown

Mustaches for Maddie by Chad Morris and Shelly Brown
Mustaches for Maddie
Chad Morris and Shelly Brown

“Twelve-year-old Maddie has a quirky sense of humor and a fondness for spotting fake mustaches–a neon pink handlebar, a green fuzzy chevron, a blue pencil mustache–her fake mustaches always seem to get a laugh. Being funny gets her noticed by class queen Cassie and things are looking up when Maddie is cast as the lead in the school play. When strange things start to happen to her body, like tripping when she walks and having her hand curl up by her side, she blames it on growing pains, but her mom isn’t so sure. The doctor confirms Maddie has a brain tumor and in an instant her world is turned upside down. With scary medical tests and surgery ahead of her, as well as typical sixth-grade problems–including the class queen who quickly turns into a bully–Maddie uses her friendliness, positive attitude, imagination, and her fake mustaches to battle her challenges. Maddie even gets an unexpected surprise when she receives hundreds of photos from friends, family members, and even complete strangers wearing fake mustaches to cheer her on. Based on a true story, Mustaches for Maddie teaches that everyone is going through somethings hard and everyone needs a compassionate friend and maybe a little bit of laughter from a mustache.”
My Review:

I loved this book! This is such an inspirational story!  I love Maddie’s voice in this book; her humor and wit are refreshing and so much fun, and her positive attitude during such a difficult time is truly admirable. Although this book is based on a true story, a big portion of the story is fictional. Part of the fictional story is about Cassie. She is a bully in Maddie’s class, and the way that Maddie decides to handle the situation makes her an example to all children in similar situations. Instead of being mean back to Cassie, or turning inward and becoming depressed, Maddie decides to use her wit, her kindness, and her sense of humor to change the dynamics. I loved that part of the book! Maddie is actually the daughter of the authors, and she really did have a brain tumor. Neighbors, friends, and even strangers, sent her pictures of them with silly mustaches to cheer Maddie up after her surgery. How sweet is that? Seriously! That is how we should always treat each other; building up and doing everything we can to help during difficult situations. It’s heart breaking to hear stories of children battling cancer, and to hear of such an amazing outcome is truly inspirational. The author was in the hospital with his daughter when his debut novel The Inventor’s Secret was published. I did not know that at the time, but I was lucky enough to participate in his book tour, and his book has turned into one of my all-time favorite middle-grader reads! Mustaches for Maddie is well written, it flows well, the voice in the book is witty, charming, and so cute, and the character development is great. Another fabulous thing about this book are the lessons that it teaches. They are very powerful: standing up for yourself, anti-bullying, being yourself, enjoying life, and doing things that you love are just a few. So great! This is a fast, easy read that will leave you wanting to hear more from cute Maddie. I laughed and cried, and couldn’t put it down. I highly recommend this book for kids and adults alike! It’ll make a great read aloud too! My copy came with these cute “Compassion in Action” postcards as well.

Compassion in Action postcards from Mustaches for Maddie by Chad Morris and Shelly Brown

Rating: PG (Clean!! There is a bully in the book, and she does some mean things. It also discusses Maddie’s medical issues. There isn’t any profanity, “intimacy,” or violence.)

Recommendation: As a silent read I’d say 2nd or 3rd grade and up, and as a read aloud I’d say K or 1st grade and up. All children should read this book to see how their actions affect those around them, and to see how Maddie handles the situation. I’m going to have all four of my kids read it!

Disclosure: I did receive a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Also by Chad Morris:

Cragbridge Hall: The Inventor's Secret (Book #1) by Chad Morris
Book #1

Cragbridge Hall: The Avatar Battle (Book #2) by Chad Morris
Book #2
Cragbridge Hall: The Impossible Race (Book #3) by Chad Morris
Book #3

The Impossible Race (Cragbridge Hall Book Three)

The Impossible Race (Cragbridge Hall Book #3) by Chad Morris

“In the final book of the Cragbridge Hall trilogy, Abby, Derick, and their friends must utilize their skills in time travel and technology to survive roving bands of dinosaurs, race through space, build robots, and fight virtual dragons. It’s known as the Race–an annual tournament where teams of students compete in the hopes of winning an unbelievable prize. But before their year’s competition, Derick and Abby receive a terrifying message from the future: Charles Muns’s plan to control history is going to succeed. It will cost countless people their lives and change the destiny of the world. And there is nothing anyone can do to stop him. Despite the danger, the twins gather their friends and enter the Race, ready to compete against the best of the best in order to claim what might turn out to be a key of ultimate power. Can they complete the Race in time and stop Muns? Or has the future already been written?”

My Review:

I love this series! My boys and I have been counting down to book three since we finished book two. May I say that it did NOT disappoint!! Wow. This book is action-packed from the beginning. Not only does it continue with the history and excitement of the first two books, but it adds more! Think space, robots, and the future. Seriously, could it get any better? Well, now think spies, betrayal, dinosaurs, dragons, mythology, deadlines, and even more secrets. Abby, Derick, Carol, and Rafa are there, and this book adds many more fun characters. I love how Abby never gives up. Her attitude is so great. She is such a great, strong female character. You see a little bit of a more vulnerable side of Derick, and Carol is still as hilarious as ever. There isn’t as much history in this book as there was in the previous two, but there is still some, and there are other twists and turns that make up for it. I love how this series makes being smart and trying hard in school a good thing. I love how it shows that doing your best in school translates to success in other areas in your life as well. I love the lesson of never giving up and thinking through problems, and I also love the lesson that the future may not be set–work harder and/or smarter, try something different, think of things in new ways, and your future is in your hands. You have the power to do whatever you want to do in life. There are some fantastic new inventions in this book that I really wish I had. Someone needs to invent them for real! And did I mention the illustrations and cover art? Brandon Dorman has definitely outdone himself this time. This book is the perfect way to end this series (Does it have to end??). Everything does get tied up nicely, but it’s a middle-grader series, and that’s of course how I wanted it. I can’t wait for my boys to read it, they are going to love it!

Another great thing about this book is that it is clean! Yay! There is no profanity and no “intimacy.” There is a little bit of violence when they are fighting robots, and Muns is still evil, but it’s not too bad.

Rating: PG (No profanity or “intimacy.” There is some minor violence when they’re fighting robots, and Muns is still his evil self.)

Recommendation: Third Grade and up (Boys and girls will enjoy this book, and it would make a fabulous read-aloud.)

Disclosure: I did receive a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

The Avatar Battle (Cragbridge Hall Book Two)

 The Avatar Battle (Cragbridge Hall Book Two) by Chad Morris

(Summary taken from inside the book jacket) “The adventure continues as Abby and Derick begin their second semester at Cragbridge Hall, the most prestigious secondary school in the world. The year is 2074, and Abby and Derick are busy designing their own virtual worlds and learning to control new robot animal avatars, but when their Grandpa Cragbridge admits them into the Council of the Keys–a secret group of people who have keys to travel back in time–strange things begin to happen. One by one, members of the council are found unconscious and unable to wake, their keys stolen. Now Abby, Derick, and their friends must scramble to figure out who is behind the attacks before they become the next victims, which would give their enemy the power to change the past–and forever alter the present and future.”

My boys and I loved the first book in this series, and they have been asking me for months when the new book will be coming out. Finally I get to tell them it is here! And boy, it did not disappoint! Abby and Derick are great characters, along with Carol, who adds a lot of humor, and Rafa, who adds some mystery. I might have liked this one more than I liked the first book. Maybe??? I loved the new gadgets and tricks. I thought the build-your-own world bit was awesome. I love that there are so many lessons in these books. I think it’s great that Grandpa Cragbridge makes them work for their answers. I like how it describes Abby thinking and thinking and trying out new ideas and using knowledge she gains from her classes. I also like that she doesn’t always succeed, but when that happens she just keeps on trying. I feel like I’m constantly telling my kids to keep trying, don’t get discouraged, get back up and try again……it’s much better coming from a fun book than from mom’s mouth….again. The characters in this book have flaws (Abby performing lowest in the school and Derick actually failing at some things) and they know it. I love that they don’t get too down on themselves and stop trying. It’s a great lesson for all of us. The avatars are so fun, and the cover by Brandon Dorman is amazing. I love the history lessons as well. I actually learned a lot about the Hindenburg. I did feel like this book had a little less history than the first one, but it had more action. If I had a complaint that is what it would be; I wish it had a few more history lessons in it.  If you enjoyed the first book, you definitely need to read this one!

There is no language and no “intimacy” except some minor flirting between Carol and Derick. There is some violence, and a few characters do get injured. It’s a little scary in parts. There is a fun twist at the end that surprised me! My 12 year-old son has already read the book as well, and he loved it. He specifically commented to me about that surprise twist at the end. Crazy and unexpected, for sure!

Rating: PG (No language or “intimacy.” There is some violence with characters being injured, and there are definitely bad guys.)

Recommendation: Third grade and up. This series is great for young and old, boy and girl, and would make a great read-aloud.

Disclosure: I did receive a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

The Inventor’s Secret

The Inventor’s Secret by Chad Morris

(Summary taken from the press release) “Imagine a school in the year 2074 where students don’t read history, but watch it happen in 3-D holograms–where running in gym class isn’t around a track, but up a virtual mountain, and where learning about animals means becoming one through an avatar. Welcome to Cragbridge Hall, the most advanced and prestigious school in the world. Twin siblings Abby and Derick Cragbridge are exited as new students to use their famed grandfather’s inventions that make Cragbridge Hall so incredible. But when their grandfather and parents go missing, the twins begin following a trail of clues left by their grandfather. They must find out where their family is, learn who the can trust, discover what secrets are hidden within Cragbridge Hall, and decide whether they should learn from history, or attempt to change what has already happened.”

I love the imagination and creativity in this book! How exciting to be able to watch history happen, and to learn about animals from the animals’ point of view. I liked Mr. Morris’ writing style and found it easy to read. It flowed well and kept me wanting more. His character development is really good, and I liked his characters, especially Abby and Derick. I love that Abby is a strong female character. She is not perfect and does get scared, but she works hard, she doesn’t give up, and she ends up doing some incredible things. I liked Abby’s friend Carol and I wasn’t sure about Rafa, but ended up liking his character as well. I could just picture Oscar Cragbridge as a funny old inventor guy. I picture him as quirky and intelligent, and just a little crazy. But, I also picture him as serious and protective. The storyline kept me turning pages. I couldn’t put this book down. It’s a great mixture of mystery, adventure, detective work, love of family, never giving up, betrayal, and some great history lessons. (Shhhh…….don’t tell the kids that they’ll enjoy learning about history.)  I seriously would love the Bridge. I wish I had one!

I can’t wait to hand this book over to my boys; they are going to eat it up! And, what do I love? This book is clean! There is no language, no “physical intimacy,” and no extreme violence. There is some fighting and there are some close calls, where you think characters may die. There are a few weapons brandished, and used, but no one ends up dying. There were a few spelling and grammatical errors, but I did receive an Advanced Reader’s Edition, so I assume they will be corrected in the final copy. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and definitely recommend it.

 Rating: PG (Some fighting with weapons, some evil characters)

Recommendation: 3rd grade and up. I enjoyed this book as an adult, and I know my 4th and 5th grade boys will love it. It will interest both boys and girls, young and old. It would make a fun read-aloud as well.

Disclosure: I did receive a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.