Book review by
Andrea Beach, Common Sense Media
Puddin' Book Poster Image
Good-hearted companion tale lacks spark of Dumplin'.

Parents say

age 15+
Based on 1 review

Kids say

age 13+
Based on 1 review

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Friendship story meant to entertain.

Positive Messages

The body you have shouldn't determine whether you deserve to have your dreams come true. Strong friendships help you be brave enough to be the person you really are, instead of the person everyone else thinks you are or the person you think you're supposed to be. Achieving your goals takes a lot more than wishing and hoping; it also takes a lot of doing. Life takes sudden turns in surprising directions; stay open to new possibilities and to finding different ways of achieving your goals.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Millie is a good model for accepting her body as it is, and for showing others that size or body type shouldn't affect how people are treated or whether they can achieve their dreams. She keeps a positive outlook and doesn't let others get her down for long. Callie is hard to like at first with her "queen bee" behavior, but she learns how to be a good friend and not to judge people's appearance. She makes some bad choices, gets in trouble, but pays the consequences and learns from her mistakes. The large cast of characters are somewhat racially and culturally diverse, with white, Latino, Hindi, and African American characters as well as gay and straight couples.


A break-in and vandalized property aren't directly narrated, but the messy aftermath with broken glass and wrecked property are briefly described. Mention of bloody drool after wisdom teeth are removed. Someone slams a cell phone down in anger hard enough to break it. A few instances of nonviolent bullying, such as oinking at a fat person.


Kissing and light making out described very briefly. Implied sex between two teens. Mention of the "orgasm scene" in When Harry Met Sally. A teen mentions she's been on the pill for some time. Getting first period mentioned as part of a game. A teen mentions she and her boyfriend are talking about having sex. Asexuality explained. A threat to send out pictures of male genitalia. Wet dreams mentioned. A past incident mentioned involves replacing birth control pills with aspirin; victim got pregnant and kicked out of the house. A couple of minor characters are in same-sex relationships; it's not a big deal for any of the characters.


"D--k" (name calling and body part), "s--t," "f--ked," "crap," "bulls--t," "hell," "bitches," "poopacalypse," "ass," "butt," "damn," "turd," "slut," "hella," "asshole," "pooped," and "slut-shamed." Flipping the bird mentioned. A few sexual innuendos.


Lots of food, snack, beverage, pop culture, beauty, and entertainment products mentioned, ususally to establish character or location. Dr. Pepper mentioned several times. "Oxy" and Adderall mentioned once each.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Mention of a past incident when a teen was too drunk to play a prank. Two teens say they shared one beer. Brief mention of prescription pain killers, stolen "oxy," and selling Adderall to teachers in exchange for good grades. Speculation about being high.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Puddin' is a companion novel to the popular Dumplin' by Julie Murphy. It's set in the same small Texas town, and has some overlapping characters who explore themes of accepting your body as it is, and learning not to treat others differently based on their appearance or body type, through an unlikely friendship story. Profanity isn't frequent but includes "s--t," "f--ked," "d--k," "bitches," and more. Violence includes an act of vandalism that's not directly narrated and some nonphysical bullying like making oinking noises at a fat person. Sexy stuff is mostly kissing and light making out, but teens talk about having sex, and once it's implied that two teens had sex. Birth control pills, getting a first period, and whether or not to have sex are mentioned. Asexuality is explained. Two teens are in same-sex relationships, but it's not explored as a theme. Very little drinking or drugs, but stolen "oxy" and providing teachers with Adderall in exchange for good grades is mentioned.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byBeclee101 November 24, 2018

Good message, strong characters.....but....

I loved the message of this book. The idea of different kinds of people with different backgrounds and different belief systems really resonates with me. I al... Continue reading
Teen, 17 years old Written byAnabanana6522 November 23, 2018

Great book!

This book is a great book for body positivity, which is a thing many people 13 and up need! This book teaches that you shouldn’t treat anyone differently whethe... Continue reading

What's the story?

PUDDIN' tells the story of the unlikely friendship that grows between Callie, co-captain of the dance team and all-round queen bee on campus, and Millie, a fat girl on the fringes of the high-school social scene. Callie is laser-focused on becoming captain of the dance team next year by leading the team to the national championships this year. Millie wants to attend a summer seminar in broadcast journalism at teh University of Texas, Austin, but she can't find a way to tell her mom that she doesn't want to go back to fat camp this year. After taking part in a vengeful act of vandalism, Callie is forced to work with Millie as part of her punishment. Can Millie show Callie that there's such a thing as real friendship?

Is it any good?

Author Julie Murphy takes her fans back to familiar territory with this friendship tale that doesn't quite have the same spark or fresh attitude as the book that inspired it. Readers who come to Puddin' because they fell in love with Willowdean in Dumplin' may be disappointed that she's relegated to the sidelines here. Unfortunately, neither Millie nor Callie are funny or engaging enough to take Willowdean's torch and run with it.

That being said, there are still enough positive messages, good role models, friendship drama, relationship drama, romance, and slumber parties to make it an enjoyable read for teens looking for a light, good-hearted read. Teens who relate to Callie's intensity will enjoy her journey to becoming a better person and a good friend. Those who struggle to accept themselves for who they are, and their bodies for what they are, will root for Millie as she learns when not to take "no" for an answer.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the strong language in Puddin'. How much is OK in books, movies, TV, etc.? Is it realistic? Is it a big deal?

  • What make Millie and Callie good -- or bad -- role models? What are their character strengths and weaknesses? Do you like both of them? Why, or why not?

  • Did you read Dumplin'? If you did, do you like this book as well? If you didn't, would you like to now? Why?

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love friendship and body-positive stories

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