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Erica Richardson

Clean Books to Engage and Inspire




"“I'm a starfish,

taking up all the room I want.”

 -Lisa Fipps, Starfish 

Review Format: 

  • Up to 40 points are possible.
  •          Quote 
    • Cover - 5 pts "You can't judge a book by its cover, but you can judge its cover."
    • Main Story - 25 pts "What's a sandwich without the ham?" 
    • Grammar 5 pts "Let's eat Grandma! vs. Let's eat, Grandma!" (Grammar saves lives.)
    • Creativity 5 pts "Hairy Pawter and the Wizard's Rock!" 
    • A Note for Parents
  • 35-40 points =  Must Read!
  • 30-34 points = Amazing
  • 25-29 points = Great
  • 20-24 points = Good
  • 10-19 points = Pass
  • 0-9 points = Nope!


This cover is stunning. I think it is perfect as is! It fits the story, highlighting the most important themes, and features bright, beautiful, shameless colors!  The title "Starfish" and accompanying image are related to the major theme of the book. The cover and book make me happy just thinking about them! 



Ellie is a lovable character with a lot of personality, and her story draws the reader in right away. She tells her story with humor, heart-breaking honesty, and courage. 

Ellie has been teased about her weight ever since the birthday party that she wore a whale swimsuit and entered the pool with an enthusiastic cannon ball.  

The way people tease her is painful, and everything written in the book is based off of real things people did and said to the author (if not the exact same words or actions, the fictional version is equally painful to the author's true experiences.) 

There are individuals who are supporting Ellie, striving to help her heal emotionally and love herself, while there are others who continue to make the emotional pain worse (like Ellie's own mother). 

I love how Ellie meets with a therapist throughout the book. As the story progresses, the reader learns life-changing lessons alone with Ellie, cheers for Ellie, and sees Ellie's confidence and self-love grow! 



This book is written in verse, expressing Ellie's story and feelings in clear, concise, yet artistic ways. I love the poetry aspect of this book. Ellie is a poet in the story, so hearing her express her story in poetry verse is very fitting. I listened to this story as an audiobook, and the audiobook version is excellent! I highly recommend it. 



This story is unlike anything I've read before. It tackles the taboo topics of weight-obsession and fat-shaming head on with sensitivity and clarity and does a beautiful job at it. 



Starfish doesn't contain any sexual scenes or violent scenes (the only violence is when bullies play a mean trick on Ellie, resulting in bruising). The only content warning I would give for this book is that Ellie has very hurtful things said to her, even emotionally abusive things. The word "crap" is used on one or two occasions, and insults like "lard butt," "blubberbelly," "whale," and even "thing" are used to describe Ellie. 


Starfish is a beautiful book with a beautiful message. I'd recommend it to readers of all ages. Even as an adult reader, I was touched by the messages shared in Starfish. The book helped me to recognize that I can treat myself with compassion and respect and embrace the things that make me uniquely me.