Read This Hilarious Middle Reader Book: Matt Sprouts And The Curse Of The Ten Broken Toes

Dr. Jessie Voigts's picture

I'm so excited to share an extraordinary, hilarious new book...and an interview with the author! Matt Sprouts And The Curse Of The Ten Broken Toes, written by educator and master storyteller Matt Eicheldinger, is SUCH a joy to read. 

 Matt Sprouts And The Curse Of The Ten Broken Toes

Whether you're a parent, caregiver, librarian, or someone lucky enough to read with kids (or send them great reads!), this book is a treasure.

I first discovered Mr. Ike on Instagram (go follow! Your heart will thank you!). His stories bring me tears, laughter, and love and compassion for the kids he teaches. Every time he shares a new story, I learn so much.  

Imagine my happiness when his first book was published this spring. 

Imagine, next, my laughter, childhood resonance (aren't we all little troublemakers, in one way or another?), and camaraderie with Matt Sprouts and his family, neighbors, and friends.

Whatever your age, whoever you are reading it with and to, get ready to laugh, groan, cheer, and support Matt in his escapades and life lessons. 

Is there a curse? Are there truly ten broken toes? What's up with the bees?  And what kind of athletic, rambunctious kid is Matt Sprouts?

The answer? A hilarious one! Matt Sprouts is living his best life: flawed, funny, and ultimately full of growth. 

This is a laugh out loud book, a story that we can all relate to in one way or another, and a prime example of the power of excellent storytelling.

I love this book so. I know you will, too.

Highly, highly recommended. 

One of the most well known teachers on social media, Matt Eicheldinger has captured the attention of over 70 million views on Instagram and TikTok, where he is known for his captivating and relatable storytelling. Eicheldinger is currently on leave from teaching as he writes his newest books and travels the country for author visits and keynote addresses. 

He wasn’t always a writer. He spent most of his childhood playing soccer, reading comics, and trying his best to stay out of trouble. Little did he know those moments would ultimately help craft his first novel, Matt Sprouts and the Curse of Ten Broken Toes

Matt lives in Minnesota with his wife and two children, and tries to create new adventures with them whenever possible. When he's not writing, you can find him telling students stories in his classroom, or trail running along the Minnesota River Bottoms.

 Matt Eicheldinger, author of Matt Sprouts And The Curse Of The Ten Broken Toes

We were lucky enough to catch up with Matt, and ask about his book, inspiration, illustrations, reading, and more. Here's what he had to say...

Please tell us about your new middle grade book, Matt Sprouts and the Curse of the Ten Broken Toes...
Matt Sprouts and The Curse of Ten Broken Toes follows middle schooler Matt Sprouts as he navigates how to break the curse, a hometown myth some believe he resurrected after accidentally hurting his neighbor, Jenna. Although Matt seems convinced all the bad things happening to him are a coincidence, it's hard to ignore when you are breaking toes! Not only that, but Matt has to deal with a bunch of other problems that middle schoolers can relate to. The book is also about 85% autobiographical, which means on most pages there is a story or reference to things from my own childhood. The book was written when I was 21 years old and rejected by literary agents in New York for over ten years. I self published the book in 2021, which is ultimately what helped me get picked up by a major publisher. The book was released this past March, and was an instant New York Times bestseller!

What inspired you to write this book?
The book is based on embarrassing moments from my childhood (yes, I have broken all ten of my toes!), and I used these stories and others in my classroom to entertain and motivate students when we finished a task or a goal. I then created something called The Story Jar in my class: a literal jar full of stories about my childhood. The stories became so popular with my students I decided to weave them together into Matt Sprouts and The Curse of Ten Broken Toes. So really, when I am asked who inspired me, the answer is simple: my students!

I love the illustrations! Can you please tell us more about your drawings?
Thank you! I have been drawing versions of the Matt Sprouts character since about fourth grade, and he is very much a cartoon version of me. If I had a bad day at school (or a good day), I would draw Matt doing things I wish I would have done, or I wish I could do. His appearance has evolved over time, but one of the reasons I got better and more comfortable in my style of art is that I doodled all the time growing up, and even in my first job as a teacher! I draw my students each year in ways I want to remember them, so this ritual has allowed me to learn new techniques. 

You are an extraordinary storyteller (thank you for them!). How does writing a book differ from telling stories in video?
The stories I tell on social media are stories that I collected while teaching, and other walks of life. I wrote something down every day from my classroom because I wanted to remember everything: the beauty of teaching, the funny moments, and even the hard ones, too. I never had a plan to write a book about them, or share them on social media, but I do feel like I have learned a lot while reflecting on these stories, so the fact they have resonated with people has surprised me. Although the stories do not directly relate to The Matt Sprouts Series, I do try to embed lessons I've learned from my time teaching. 

What should parents/educators/caregivers know about your book and this series, and how to best teach kids through reading them?
The series was also created to help reluctant readers, so my hope is that when a student picks up the book, the parent or teacher will not have to do much to keep them engaged: the chapters are short, the plot moves fast, and the characters are relatable. I do think reading as a family can be helpful in creating good reading habits, and I think if parents read this book with their child, they could share their own embarrassing moments from growing up. If I have learned anything from being a teacher, it's that kids love hearing when their parents and teachers make mistakes!

How can people find your work?
You can find me on Instagram and Tiktok @matteicheldinger, and at

What's up next for you?
There is a lot coming up in the next year! There are two more books in the Matt Sprouts series: Matt Sprouts and The Day Nora Ate the Sun (September, 2024) and Matt Sprouts and The Search for The Chompy Wompers (Summer, 2025). I also have an illustrated book of poetry for kids called Holes in My Underwear (Fall, 2025). Aside from children's literature, I have my first nonfiction book for adults coming out, called Sticky Notes: Memorable Lessons from Ordinary Moments (October, 2024). I think this book has the potential to inspire others to look at the significance of the small actions they take every day, and believe this book could be some of my most important work to date. 

Is there anything else you'd like to share?
I am so thankful for the opportunity to tell stories, both to children and adults. I feel like I am doing what I was meant to do, and hope I can continue doing this for a long, long time. 

Thank you for the opportunity to tell you about myself and my book!


Jessie Voigts is the publisher of Wandering Educators. She has a PhD in International Education, has lived and worked in Japan and London, and traveled around the world. She’s published six books about travel and intercultural learning, with more on the way.

Jessie is one of the top 50 travel bloggers in the world, and was named a White House travel blogger with her site, Wandering Educators, a travel library for people curious about the world. She is constantly looking for ways to increase intercultural understanding, and is passionate about study abroad and international education.