A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
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.
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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?
- Author: Julie Murphy
- Genre: Friendship
- Topics: Friendship, Great Girl Role Models, High School, Misfits and Underdogs
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Balzer + Bray
- Publication date: May 8, 2018
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 13 - 17
- Number of pages: 448
- Available on: Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
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