Pink Hair and Other Ter­ri­ble Ideas

An­drea Py­ros

Foreword Reviews - - Spotlight Middle Grade - CATHER­INE THURESON

Cap­stone (FE­BRU­ARY) Soft­cover $15.95 (256pp) 978-1-68446-028-1

In An­drea Py­ros’s en­gag­ing Pink Hair and Other Ter­ri­ble Ideas, a young girl deal­ing with the dif­fi­cul­ties of ju­nior high also con­tends with her mother’s breast cancer di­ag­no­sis.

Josephine is a nor­mal but shy twelve-year-old girl who likes math and chess. She’s hated be­ing the cen­ter of at­ten­tion ever since her par­ents split up, and she doesn’t want any­one to know about her mother’s ill­ness.

At school, Josephine faces the stan­dard is­sues. She wor­ries about boys, about what her friends think of her, and about how her twin’s be­hav­ior re­flects on her—par­tic­u­larly since pop­u­lar Chance wants to be able to tell peo­ple about what’s go­ing on. When he de­cides to dye his hair pink to show his sup­port for their mother, the re­sult­ing con­flict is a re­al­is­tic sib­ling strug­gle.

Cancer is dealt with in a gen­tle, age-ap­pro­pri­ate man­ner. Surgery is re­quired for Josephine’s mom; she’s afraid that her mother will die, but the book fo­cuses more on what she has to do to get bet­ter. It ex­plores how the di­ag­no­sis af­fects other, lesser con­cerns, too, like the ex­cite­ment over a friend’s birth­day party and whether it’s okay to feel any­thing beyond wor­ried and sad.

Over the course of the story, Josephine learns to be less con­cerned about what oth­ers think. This les­son comes nat­u­rally across the book’s brief win­dow of time, which does not stretch to Josephine’s mother’s re­mis­sion. By the end, Josephine and her brother have found a bet­ter bal­ance in deal­ing with cancer, and Josephine has also found bet­ter bal­ance in deal­ing with ju­nior high.

Pink Hair and Other Ter­ri­ble Ideas is an em­pa­thetic story about learn­ing to face prob­lems both great and small.

Im­age from The Cot­tin­g­ley Fairies, copy­right © by Ana Sender. Used with per­mis­sion from North­south Books.

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