Dumplin' by Julie Murphy | SLJ Audio Review

redstarMURPHY, Julie. Dumplin’. 8 CDs. 9 hrs. Blackstone. 2015. $59.99. ISBN 9781504645225. digital download.Audio_dumplin

Gr 8 Up –“The word fat makes some people uncomfortable,” Willowdean Dickson remarks. Called Dumplin’ by her mother, Will insists that fat is “not an insult.” She’s comfortably self-aware, buoyed by her late aunt, whom she still deeply mourns, and her picture-perfect best friend. When she introduces herself to coworker Bo, a private school jock and hottie, she’s direct, describing herself as a “cashier, Dolly Parton enthusiast, and resident fat girl.” Working late most nights, Will and Bo fall into a giddy summer romance—until the reality of the coming school year erodes Will’s trust in Bo and, unexpectedly, her belief in herself. In hopes of reclaiming her bold, spunky spirit, Will enters a beauty pageant, shocking her mother, a former Miss Teen Blue Bonnet. Her audacity inspires the most unlikely supporters. Eileen Stevens’s multifaceted voice gives Willowdean prodigious range—sweet and snarky, fearless and funny, determined and doleful, too. With Will firmly center stage, Stevens smoothly transitions from beauty queen to drag queen, mean girl to wannabe, bully to buddy. VERDICT Disney has already found Dumplin’ irresistible; film rights were sold months before the pub date. Before the celluloid transformation, libraries should entrust Stevens to introduce this true original. [“A joyous read that will be beloved by many teens who can relate to feeling uncertain in their own skins”: SLJ 8/15 review of the Balzer + Bray book.]–Terry Hong, Smithsonian BookDragon, Washington, DC

This review was published in the School Library Journal November 2015 issue.

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