Lexile Measure: 690L (What's this?)
Paperback: 256 pages
Publisher: Dial Books (February 5, 2009)
Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.7 x 7.7 inches
Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars See all reviews (163 customer reviews)
Best Sellers Rank: #135,096 in Books (See Top 100 in Books) #10 in Books > Children's Books > Growing Up & Facts of Life > Health > Weight #616 in Books > Children's Books > Growing Up & Facts of Life > Friendship, Social Skills & School Life > Self-Esteem & Self-Respect #4719 in Books > Children's Books > Humor
Age Range: 8 - 12 years
Grade Level: 3 - 7
I am currently a fifth grade teacher and picked this book up because it seemed an interesting conversation piece for my girls, many of whom have serious issues with body image already. I was not at all pleased after reading it. Throughout the piece, the character Celeste is never empowered by her own wants, dreams and aspirations; instead, she is ignored and caves in to the taunting of her classmates, the wants of her family and the opinions of everyone else. Furthermore, characters like Lively are caricatures; they are way too wicked to be believable, for even the nastiest of bullies should have the slightest complexity in them that make readers sympathize with their behavior, even if they deem it wrong. Lively's behavior is flat out evil - no underlying insecurities, no problems at home to make her overcompensate with cruelty to others - she's just a creep who is inexplicably popular, and there is no other explanation for it. This just makes the characters seem stupid for listening to a single, solitary word she says, and her power as a bully weak and confusing. Bottom line - this book leaves the readers with several unsettling underlying messages. Fat is bad and something to conceal, change, or be ashamed of. If you are fat, you probably adhere to overweight stereotypes - you sit around eating too much, you hate sports and you dream of being thin enough for boys to like. I mean, forget about the fact that some overweight girls ARE athletic, have self confidence, and perhaps got that way for a medical reason - that couldn't be true. Meanwhile, thin/pretty/model material is good and something to be proud of. Once Celeste started losing weight, THAT'S when she started "finding" herself. Bullies may be mean, but they win, because their taunts have power over us.
I'm a teacher and a middle-aged man, probably not the target audience of the book.... But I need more "girl books" for my classes and this has been an excellent choice in most ways.The character of Celeste is real, and I mean really real. I've taught a few Celestes, at least the way she is in the beginning of the story: thoroughly ashamed of her body, unable to believe she could do anything about it (whether she could or not), allowing many of her peers to disrespect her, spending a lot of energy every day just trying to avoid being confronted too directly with her own shame. And in reality, she would probably be ok if she could just get a little genuine confidence, a sense of her own worth as a person, a bit more awareness of her power.SPOILERS! SPOILERS! SPOILERS! SPOILERS! SPOILERS! SPOILERS! SPOILERS!The story goes better for this Celeste than it does for many young women. She learns how to put on makeup skillfully, she makes better decisions about her diet and lifestyle. And then she's surrounded by people telling her she's beautiful.The important point - hopefully all the teen readers will notice! (though I sadly see that not all the adults did) - is that not so much actually changes on the outside. She loses nine pounds. Nine pounds is not nothing and on most figures it would make a difference, but she didn't actually become thin. She starts wearing lip gloss. Nine pounds and lip gloss. Those things must help of course, but The Real Change in true bildungsroman style is that she gains strength and confidence and insight, especially into herself. She starts standing up for herself, she dumps a fake friend for some genuine ones.
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