I begin this week with "Fat Girls
This story comes from a collection of sports-themed stories entitled Lay-ups and Long Shots. It definitely fits in well with the second part of that title, because the main character of the story, Carla Anders, doesn’t see herself as the kind of person who can run, let alone win a race. Instead, she sees herself as a fat girl for whom dieting and exercise are equally hopeless. “The point,” she says, “is to stay as invisible as possible” because otherwise, she will be teased about her weight. One day in gym class, though, Carla forgets about trying to blend in and does what actually feels good to her - pushes herself harder to actually run competitively against a classmate.
This story deals with such an important subject in a gentle, yet empowering way, but I’m not sure the kind of reader who would appreciate it the most is necessarily the kind of reader who would choose to read a book with a basketball hoop on the cover. I would have loved this story in middle school, but there’s no way I’d have picked up such a sporty book. But the story is in there, just waiting, and I think every teacher and librarian can think of at least one girl who can benefit from the message that being “fat” doesn’t automatically exclude a girl from living life and trying to be healthy.
Another plus is that the story is quick and easy to read. It relates just this one small achievement in a girl’s life, draws its conclusions, and moves on. Skeptical readers will barely have time to scoff before the story is over. I’m not sure I’d use this as a read-aloud, but I will keep it in mind the next time a parent asks me for something about weight and self esteem.
Lynea Bowdish, whose name is new to me, is the author of a few other, vaguely familiar books. According to her author bio in the Layups and Long-Shots anthology, she was also a “large” kid, and “firmly believes bird watching and computer games should qualify as sports when it comes to school fitness tests.”
I borrowed Lay-Ups and Long Shots from my local public library.
For more about this book, visit Goodreads and Worldcat.