July/August 2023 Kids Indie Next List
“Murphy delves back into middle grade with her delightful story about a girl who’s forced to go to fat camp for the summer, but things aren’t what they seem. This is a sweet story that’s also filled with lots of adventure and intrigue!”
— Jennifer Jones, Bookmiser, Marietta, GA
From Julie Murphy, the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Dumplin’, comes a hilarious and creepy middle grade summer camp story that takes a bite out of fat camp and diet culture. Perfect for fans of Spooky Stories and Starfish.
Magnolia “Maggie” Hagen is determined to be in the spotlight . . . if she can just get over her stage fright. This summer, though, she has big plans to finally attend Camp Rising Star, the famous performing arts camp she’s been dying to go to for three whole summers.
But on the last day of school, her parents break the news: Maggie isn’t going to Camp Rising Star. She’s being shipped off to fat camp—and not just any fat camp. She’s going to Camp Sylvania, run by world-famous wellness influencer Sylvia Sylvania, who is known for her soon-to-be-patented Scarlet Diet.
When Maggie arrives at camp, things are . . . weird. There are the humiliating weigh-ins and grueling workouts, as expected. But the campers are also encouraged to donate blood—at their age! The cafeteria serves only red foods and the oddly specific rules change every day. There are even rumors of a camp ghost.
Despite these horrors, Maggie makes friends and starts to actually enjoy herself. There are even tryouts for a camp production of The Music Man! This place might not be so bad . . . until campers start going missing and other suspicious things begin happening—especially after dark. The camp ghost might be the least scary thing about this place. . . .
About the Author
Julie Murphy lives in North Texas with her husband, who loves her, and her cats, who tolerate her. When Julie isn’t writing, she can be found watching movies so bad they're good, hunting for the perfect slice of cheese pizza, or planning her next great travel adventure. She is the author of the middle grade novels Dear Sweet Pea and Camp Sylvania as well as the young adult novels Ramona Blue, Side Effects May Vary, the Faith series, Pumpkin, Puddin’, and Dumplin’ (now a Netflix original film). You can visit Julie at imjuliemurphy.com.
“Murphy renders her camp of fat characters with nuance, giving them unique personalities beyond their size and often pointing out how others’ judgments ignore their full humanity and undermine their confidence….A fun and spooky celebration of fat kids and friendship.” — Kirkus Reviews
“Through Maggie’s witty first-person narration, Murphy reveals the fat camp’s horrors, both benign and supernatural, as Maggie, who experiences performance anxiety, realizes that she and her body are just right the way they are. It’s a character-driven summer camp romp that takes on anti-fat bias while underscoring how parents don’t always get things right.” — Publishers Weekly
“Readers of gentle horror will enjoy the eerier elements, and fans of contemporary middle-grade fiction will be delighted by Maggie’s realization that she’s perfect just the way she is.” — ALA Booklist
"Readers looking for a slightly spooky, fast-paced adventure with fully developed characters will delve into this one.” — School Library Journal
"The characters’ [are] engaging and memorable…. The central focus is on Maggie’s journey to overcome her personal fears, but the diet culture–obsessed vampires also allow for some moments of biting satire.” — Horn Book Magazine