Sussy's grief is authentically messy, moving from total despair to anger to confusion, both about her future and Matylda's. . . . a thoughtful exploration of moving on after loss, and the pet-care element offers an interesting twist.
—Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books
This tackles grief for the middle-grade set in much the same way as Ali Benjamin's The Thing about Jellyfish (2015). As a simple preadolescent love story, it's refreshing as well.
At its core, this is a sincere, tender story of friendship…Sussy's deep sorrow hovers at the edges of each page, but McGhee (the author of Dessert First and other books, writing as Hallie Durand) handles the story's heavy emotions with a light touch, using Sussy's changing relationship with Matylda and a classmate to provide balance.
Both Sussy and Guy are creative, intelligent characters, and this novel is a good fit for sensitive middle grade readers…This honest and sensitive offering about grief touches on many difficult topics that, while resolved by the conclusion, may require follow-up conversations with a trusted adult.
—School Library Journal
You will cry when you read this book. But it is worth it. I enjoyed every single page. My heart is full.
This is a beautiful story told with hope and light exploring how life endures despite loss.
Matylda, Bright & Tender masterfully explores the very sad, very poignant grieving process of a child…a well-done, heartwarming, tender story, and one not to be missed.
—Randomly Reading (blog)
This slim middle grade book lives up to its name, a tale that is both bright and tender.
—Reading Style Guide (blog)