Brave Like That – Lindsey Stoddard – HarperCollins – Published June 2 2020
Cyrus Olson’s dad is a hero—Northfield’s former football star and now one of their finest firefighters. Everyone expects Cyrus to follow in his dad’s record-breaking footsteps, and he wishes they were right—except he’s never been brave like that. But this year, with the help of a stray dog, a few new friends, a little bit of rhythm, and a lot of nerve, he may just discover that actually…he is.
Lauded as “remarkable” by the New York Times Book Review, Lindsey Stoddard’s heartfelt stories continue to garner critical acclaim, and her latest novel will have fans new and old rooting for Cyrus and Parker’s special bond and the courage it helps them both to find.
Brave Like That is the same kind of feel-good, heartwarming, uplifting book as Wonder. Brave Like That is utterly delightful to read and I can’t wait to share this with our middle-grade readers.
Cyrus knows very well the story of the night he was found on the steps of the firehouse. He knows how his father had every intention of finding him a new home but decided to keep him. Cyrus has grown up in that firehouse, just as much a part of the fire crew as his dad and the other firefighters. When he discovers a dog, which he names Parker, on the steps of the firehouse, on the eve of his own discovery, he knows that dog belongs with him. He just doesn’t know how to convince his dad, nor how to tell him that he doesn’t actually like football and he would never be brave enough to actually be a fireman. With football season just starting, a new student in school who is being bullied, changes in his friendship group, and the ultimate desire to fight for Parker, Cyrus will have to discover if he can be the kind of brave that stands up for what is right.
I adored everything about this book. It is so easy to read, the story just unfolds and I didn’t want to put it down. There are so many important messages in this book and while they are pretty clearly outlined by Cyrus, the book doesn’t feel self-righteous. Cyrus learns a lot in the book and I was cheering him on every step of the way.
I think middle-grade readers will relate to the struggle Cyrus faces. Starting middle school brings changes in routine, structure and friendship groups. Cyrus doesn’t like the way his friends are acting, especially when they start picking on the new student, but Cyrus isn’t sure how he should go about changing or saying anything. Sam, the new female firefighter at the station, starts to give him some ideas when she challenges the treatment she receives from some of the other firefighters. Cyrus also learns a lot from reading Wonder, and I loved that Wonder is referenced in this book because the two books are going to appeal to the same bracket of readers.
I adored Cyrus’ grandmother. After suffering a stroke, she can’t speak, but Cyrus knows exactly what she is saying and her pearls of wisdom, kindness and good humour are a wonderful addition to the book. I loved that Cyrus enjoys spending time with his grandmother and so highly values this relationship.
Cyrus is adopted and his feelings about this are delicately reflected in his love for and desire to fight for Parker. A note for animal lovers: it’s safe to read this book. It has a happy ending and no need for tears aside from one or two happy tears. Cyrus may not be a football player like his dad, might not be destined to be a firefighter, but he is still very much a part of his family and special in his own unique and awesome ways.
I could go on forever about each part of this book that I enjoyed, because I loved all of it. I can’t wait to get this into the hands of our readers and I think parents and teachers will love it just as much.
The publishers provided an advanced readers copy of this book for reviewing purposes. All opinions are my own.
Category: Children’s fiction, Middle-grade fiction.
Themes: Family, adoption, dogs, firefighters, bullying, reading, football.
Reading age guide: Ages 8-12.
Published: 2 June 2020 by HarperCollins
Format: Hardcover, ebook, audiobook. 272 pages.