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A Printz Honor winner! Ellie is tired of being fat-shamed and does something about it in this poignant debut novel-in-verse.Cover may vary. Ever since Ellie wore a whale swimsuit and made a...
A Printz Honor winner! Ellie is tired of being fat-shamed and does something about it in this poignant debut novel-in-verse.Cover may vary. Ever since Ellie wore a whale swimsuit and made a...
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  • A Printz Honor winner!
    Ellie is tired of being fat-shamed and does something about it in this poignant debut novel-in-verse.

    Cover may vary.
    Ever since Ellie wore a whale swimsuit and made a big splash at her fifth birthday party, she's been bullied about her weight. To cope, she tries to live by the Fat Girl Rules—like "no making waves," "avoid eating in public," and "don't move so fast that your body jiggles." And she's found her safe space—her swimming pool—where she feels weightless in a fat-obsessed world. In the water, she can stretch herself out like a starfish and take up all the room she wants. It's also where she can get away from her pushy mom, who thinks criticizing Ellie's weight will motivate her to diet. Fortunately, Ellie has allies in her dad, her therapist, and her new neighbor, Catalina, who loves Ellie for who she is. With this support buoying her, Ellie might finally be able to cast aside the Fat Girl Rules and starfish in real life—by unapologetically being her own fabulous self.



  • From the book FOR JUST A WHILE
    I step down into the pool.
    The water is bathwater warm
    but feels cool
    compared to the blisteringly hot air.
    Kick. Gliiiiiiide.
    Stroke. Gliiiiiiide.
    Side to side
    and back again.
    Dive under the surface.
    Soar to the top.
    Arch my back.
    Flip. Flop.
    As soon as I slip into the pool,
    I am weightless.
    For just a while.

    Eliana Elizabeth Montgomery-Hofstein.
    That’s my name.
    My bestie, Viv,
    and my parents call me
    Ellie or El.
    But most people call me Splash
    or some synonym for whale.
    Cannonball into a pool,
    drenching everyone,
    and wear a whale swimsuit
    to your Under the Sea birthday party
    when you’re a chubby kid
    who grows up to be a fat tween
    and no one will ever let you live it down.
    Now, whenever I swim,
    I use the steps to ease into the water,
    careful not to make waves,
    because the memory
    of my pool party plays
    in my head like a video on a loop.
    It was my fifth birthday.
    I wanted to be the first one in, so
    I ran to the edge and
    leapt into the air and
    tucked my knees into my chest.
    Water sprayed up
    as I sank down.
    I bobbed to the surface,
    expecting cheers for
    the splashiest cannonball ever.
    That didn’t happen.
    “Splash spawned a tsunami!”
    my sister, Anaïs, shouted.
    “She almost emptied the pool,”
    my brother, Liam, chimed in.
    I dove under,
    drowning my tears.
    I wish I could tell everyone
    how they made me feel that day—
    deeply sad.
    But every time I try to stand up for myself,
    the words get stuck in my throat
    like a giant glob of peanut butter.
    Besides, if they even listened,
    they’d just snap back,
    “If you don’t like being teased,
    lose weight.”


    Some girls my age fill
    diaries with dreams and
    private thoughts.
    Mine has a list of
    Fat Girl Rules.
    You find out
    what these unspoken rules are
    when you break them—
    and suffer
    the consequences.
    Fat Girl Rules
    I learned
    at five:
    No cannonballs.
    No splashing.
    No making waves.
    You don’t deserve
    to be seen or heard,
    to take up room,
    to be noticed.
    Make yourself small.


    The first Fat Girl Rule
    you learn hurts the most,
    a startling, scorpion-stinging soul slap.
    Something’s changed, but you don’t know
    You replay the moment in your mind from
    every possible angle, trying to understand
    Why the rules exist and
    Who came up with them and
    How does anyone have the right to tell you
    how to live just because of your weight?
    Mostly, you remember the smack of
    the change.
    One minute you were like
    everybody else, playing around, enjoying life,
    and then,
    with the flip of an unseen cosmic switch,
    you’re the fat girl,...


  • Booklist

    December 1, 2020
    Grades 5-8 *Starred Review* Ellie is doing her best, but it never seems to be enough: not for her mom, who insists Ellie's weight is something to be fixed; not for her peers, who taunt her with unimaginably cruel words; and not even for herself. She doesn't mind being fat, but she does mind how she's treated for it. Now, as the threat of bariatric surgery grows, Ellie must find it within herself to stand up to the ones who pushed her to create the Fat Girl Rules--including herself. Fipps bursts onto the middle-grade scene with her debut, a verse novel that shines because of Ellie's keen and emotionally striking observations. As she draws readers in with her smart and succinct voice, Ellie navigates the difficult map of knowing she deserves better treatment while struggling with the conflict that's necessary to achieve it. Fipps hands her young narrator several difficult life lessons, including how to self-advocate, how not to internalization of the words of others, and what it means to defend yourself. Ellie's story will delight readers who long to see an impassioned young woman seize an unapologetic victory.


  • School Library Journal

    Starred review from February 1, 2021

    Gr 5 Up-A charming novel in verse about a girl struggling with self-worth. Ellie is a middle school girl who is bullied every day for her weight. Whether it comes from classmates, siblings, or even her mother, Ellie is constantly bombarded with comments about her size. Luckily, her friends help keep her head up most of the time. When her best friend Viv moves away, a new friend, Catalina, fits right into her place. Ellie's dad is also an ally; he stands up to Ellie's mom and decides to take Ellie to a therapist. With the help of Dr. Wood, Ellie learns how to feel comfortable in her own skin. Once readers start, it will be difficult for them to put this book down. Ellie's story is heartbreaking and raw at times, and Fipps paints a realistic picture of bullying in a world that equates thinness with beauty. Ellie's own family, except for her dad, also buy into that ideal, calling her "Splash," making fun of her, and cataloguing everything she eats. True joy comes in watching Ellie gain confidence in herself and standing up to the bullies, even when they're family. The race of most characters is not mentioned. Catalina and her family are Mexican American. VERDICT A must-have for libraries serving teens and tweens.-Lisa Buffi, Sterling M.S., VA

    Copyright 2021 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Kirkus

    Starred review from February 1, 2021
    A girl seeks acceptance rather than judgment for her size. Eleven-year-old Texan Ellie loves to swim in her backyard pool even though a cannonball during her fifth birthday party earned her the nickname "Splash" and endless jokes about whales. She maneuvers through life following unspoken "Fat Girl Rules," chief among them, "Make yourself small." Ellie dreads the start of sixth grade, partially because her best friend just moved away, but mainly because classmates bully her at every turn. The worst, though, is her mother, with her endless stream of derogatory comments, obsessive monitoring of Ellie's food intake, and preoccupation with bariatric surgery (which Ellie knows is unsafe). Thankfully, Ellie has support in compassionate educators, tried-and-true friends, her beloved pug, and her more considerate psychiatrist father, who finds Ellie a therapist to work through her pent-up feelings. As a self-proclaimed poet, Ellie has a strong command of words, and she learns how and when to use them to defend herself. She also makes friends with her new neighbor, whose Mexican American family can empathize with being judged on appearances. Fipps' verse is skillful and rooted in emotional reality. The text places readers in Ellie's shoes, showing how she is attacked in many spaces--including by strangers on public transit--while clearly asserting that it's other people who need to change. Half-Jewish, half-Christian Ellie is cued as White. Make room in your heart for this cathartic novel. (Verse novel. 9-13)

    COPYRIGHT(2021) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

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