Lake Rescue: Beacon Street Girls, Book 6
By Stephanie Dunnewind,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
After-school special-style novel on weight loss.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Chelsea knows that students talk about her behind her back about her weight. Some girls defend her: Dillon calls Chelsea a bear, which Maeve tells him is really mean. Chelsea skips gym class and gets sent to the principal's office. The girls wear striped pajamas to look like convicts and wear signs saying "This school is a prison" and "No more homework." The girls are cliquish and always want to be together. Students get into a food fight at camp until the counselor tells them it's wrong to waste food. Kiki tells a teacher to "chill out." The teacher responds by stamping her foot and shouting. Chelsea learns "I can't let how much I weigh stop me from having a great life!" The book ends with health tips.
Sex, Romance & Nudity
Girls have crushes on boys. Charlotte and Nick hold hands. Charlotte feels jealous when Nick pays attention to Isabel.
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Kiki insults Chelsea by calling her fat; Chelsea calls her "Kiki Underpants."
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Products & Purchases
The girls go shopping to buy new things for camp. Katani complains that she has to wear her sisters' hand-me-downs. There are several name-brand references. Pop culture shout-outs -- like Legally Blonde, the comic "Cathy," and Mariah Carey -- date the content. There's a big push for Outward Bound camps for weight loss, with at least three mentions of the program.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
The girls discuss how they would never smoke. Isabel tells them how her sister broke up with a cute boy because he smoked. "He said he was addicted and he was only fifteen." Nick says his parents let him drink lattes because "it's kind of a Latin thing."
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this book, which garnered media attention for helping girls lose body mass, features an overweight girl who's ostracized at school. A one-dimensional beautiful girl is mean and insults other girls. A formerly overweight camp counselor shares tips for making healthy choices. There's a mild romantic subplot.
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What's the Story?
In this sixth book in the BSG series, five best friends -- Charlotte, Isabel, Maeve, Avery, and Katani -- belong to a club called the Beacon Street Girls. They're challenged to survive the outdoors when their seventh-grade class goes to a four-day camp in New Hampshire. The girls feel sorry for another classmate, Chelsea Briggs, who's overweight and struggles to complete some of the camp's fitness activities. With the help of a formerly overweight camp counselor, Chelsea learns to stand up to bullies and find ways to feel good about herself.
Is It Any Good?
This is a Message Book in which lessons trump writing and plot. Readers must overcome clunky dialog, clichhs, and didactic passages to focus on the girls' friendships. Each girl has an "issue": Charlotte is raised by a single dad, Avery is adopted, Maeve's parents are divorced, Isabel's mother has multiple sclerosis, and Katani's sister is autistic. In this book, though, the focus is on overweight Chelsea, who learns to stand up for herself and only eat one cookie when, conveniently, a camp counselor who used to be overweight mentors her with lessons about exercise and eating out of boredom. The book rightly eschews quick-fixes and diets (Jody, the counselor, tells Chelsea it took her two years to lose weight), focusing on the idea of "getting healthy" rather than losing weight. "I would just respect my body and eat healthy and exercise," Jody tells Chelsea. For the rest of the girls, the lesson is that "fat people are people, too" -- Chelsea, it turns out, takes great pictures and saves the day when her hiking group gets lost.
While the weight-related messages try to stay positive, the book goes a bit overboard with its cardboard villain and Chelsea's social isolation. As one example of how Chelsea is always embarrassed by her weight, her mom makes her buy a coat from the boys' department because none of the girl-size coats fit her. Wouldn't it make more sense to look in the women's section? Girls who are on the heavy side but still have outgoing personalities may have a hard time identifying with Chelsea (and her subsequent life lessons).
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about ways they could exercise together or eat more healthfully. Parents can discuss scientific research and how it's represented in the media. For example, the New York Times (Oct. 13, 2008) and other media outlets covered a Duke University study featuring this book. The study involved fewer than 100 girls, all already enrolled in a weight-loss program at the university. One group of 31 girls read Lake Rescue; another group read Charlotte in Paris. A smaller group of 14 girls didn't read anything. After six months, researchers found that the girls who read a book posted a larger drop in their body mass index. What do you think of this study? Do you think there's enough evidence to support the connection between the book and weight loss? Does any media you watch, read, or listen to sway your behavior in a positive way?
- Author: Annie Bryant
- Genre: Friendship
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Aladdin
- Publication date: September 15, 2005
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 9 - 13
- Number of pages: 235
- Last updated: July 12, 2017
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