Fipps, Lisa. Starfish. Fiction. Paulsen, 03/2021. 256pp. $17.99. 978-1-9848-1450-0. OUTSTANDING. GRADES 5-8.
There are so many things 11-year-old Ellie loves, but she’ll never forget the single moment where she learned how dangerous it can be to share one’s joy with the world. As a chubby, five-year-old birthday girl she cannon-balled, wearing a whale patterned swimsuit, and since then has been called “Splash” or some synonym for whale. Since that sudden transformation from ordinary kid to “fat girl,” Ellie has absorbed the message that it is her job to bully herself as much, if not more, than everyone else, and has come up with her own set of “fat-girl” rules. But when a new friend, Catalina, and her accepting family, move in next door at the same time Ellie’s mom accelerates a campaign to persuade Ellie to undergo bariatric surgery, Ellie’s fear, anger, and hope push her to make dramatic changes. Told in free verse and full of moments of humor, cruelty, and grace, readers of all sizes will identify with Ellie as she fights to claim her right to take up space. While the cover image shows a pale, brown-haired girl, the race of most characters is not mentioned. Catalina and her family are Mexican American.
Melissa McAvoy, Retired