Friday, January 20, 2023

Cookie Monsters by Erika J. Kendrick

Cookie MonstersCookie Monsters by Erika J. Kendrick
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Within its exciting cookie sales campaign plot, Cookie Monsters also delivers a warm and wonderful story of recovery after the loss of a loved one.

It’s World Scout cookie season again, and Brooklyn Ace, Valentine Middle School’s leading cookie seller last year, has big plans to win the top spot this time around. Last year, she came in a close second to a high school senior who has since graduated and no longer poses a threat. However, this year’s campaign is going to be fundamentally different anyway; Brooklyn’s biggest supporter in her quest for sales domination was her mother, whom she recently lost to cancer. Brooklyn wants to honor her mother by dedicating the campaign to her memory.

But right away, there’s an unforeseen hitch in her successful campaign when the new girl at school, Piper Parker, announces her intention to take the cookie queen crown for herself. Soon, it becomes apparent that Piper will do whatever it takes, and no matter what, so she can win!

Cookie Monsters is a warm and poignant story about a twelve-year-old’s struggle with grief and its toll on her mental well-being, as well as an exciting and tense battle to sell the most cookies. Brooklyn is cool, popular, wholesome, and very much a regular pre-teen. From the outside, she appears to be coping well with her mother’s death but inside, she is drowning in pent-up emotions. She is surrounded by a supportive circle of girlfriends and has a loving father and grandmother at home, who are also dealing with their own grief. But as the results of Brooklyn’s loss visibly begin to affect her ability to function, she reaches out and accepts professional help and makes progress on dealing with her feelings. The story also reveals that her friends are dealing with their own difficulties, and Brooklyn is able to share her experiences and help get them on a path to communicating their needs with their own families.

The story is also about a very competitive race to sell the most cookies. Brooklyn’s nemesis, Piper Parker, pulls a couple of rabbits out of her hat, using her father’s business resources and wealth and promising incentives (bribes) to their fellow students to buy her cookies rather than Brooklyn’s. Although Brooklyn cries foul at all of Piper’s strategies, and some were definitely shady moves, frankly, Piper just had a better sales plan and executed it better than Brooklyn did (which Brooklyn slowly comes to recognize.)

Brooklyn’s scout squad is a wonderful mix of different personalities, each with their own strengths that they bring to their friendship and the campaign. Young readers will surely relate to one or more of these great characters and the individual issues they are facing in their lives. I enjoyed this group of girls so much.

The writing and pace of the story are absolutely flawless. I was completely drawn into the story and emotionally invested; I teared up a couple of times while reading, especially when she was making a breakthrough with her therapist. I know I’ll be thinking about Brooklyn’s tale for quite a while; I was that affected. Cookie Monsters would make an excellent read-aloud selection.

With its important messages nestled within an exciting cookie campaign plot, I recommend COOKIE MONSTERS to young readers who have experienced their own loss of someone close to them.

I voluntarily reviewed this after receiving an Advanced Review Copy from the author or publisher through TBR and Beyond Book Tours.

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