Parents' Guide to


By Mandie Caroll, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 10+

Moving, witty novel tackles fatphobia, self-advocacy.

Starfish Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this book.

Community Reviews

age 10+

Based on 2 parent reviews

age 10+

Must Read

I don't know how many times while reading this book I needed to stop to dry my tears. You can feel everything the main character, Ellie, does. As I was a chunky child, I related to her in nearly every aspect of this novel. That being said, I believe -anyone- who has ever felt like they weren't/aren't enough can gain something from reading this book. My only complaint is that this novel wasn't written earlier when I was in my Splash part of my life. Learning to Starfish took so many years of my life, and I feel as though this book would have helped and will help others to figure out how to take up their space in the world, unashamed and unafraid.

This title has:

Educational value
Great messages
Great role models
age 9+

This title has:

Educational value
Great messages

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (2):
Kids say (3):

This charming, though at times heart-wrenching novel-in-verse is a story of healing and self-advocacy that readers won't soon forget. Starfish, which is author Lisa Fipps' first novel, is a quick read, but it packs a lot into its honest, sad, and hilarious verse. There's the unspoken rules about being fat that Ellie learns only by breaking them and suffering the consequences. There's the mom, who's so cruel about Ellie's body that Ellie isn't sure her mom loves her. And all the people -- sister, peers, and adults -- who don't defend her when she's targeted. There's acute relief when dad is being wonderful, and when Ellie is connecting with Viv or Catalina, who empathize and accept Ellie as she is. Ellie's therapy sessions with Dr. Wood are funny and moving, with witty banter and emotional realizations.

Readers who've been targeted for their own body size will relate, and readers who haven't will be enlightened and motivated to adopt the ally behaviors modeled in this story. A deeply meaningful read, this book can spark conversations about how to fight anti-fat bias in a world obsessed with thinness.

Book Details

Did we miss something on diversity?

Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

See how we rate