Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy

coverreveals_f15_dumplinInformation: Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy was published in 2015 by Balzer + Bray. ISBN: 0062327186

Plot Summary: Willowdean is the daughter of a former beauty queen and a self-proclaimed fat girl. She’s working hard to keep up with her one best friend, struggling with the loss of her favorite aunt, and still trying to gain approval from her mother. All of it comes crashing down around her when he best friend joins a circle of popular girls, who don’t like Willowdean. After a confusing encounter with her coworker, Bo and yet another giant blow up with her friend, Willowdean decides to take a stand for all fat girls and fellow social outcasts by entering in the local beauty contest. Suddenly, Willowdean isn’t sure if she’s as brave as she thought or if the potential humiliation is even worth making the point that everyone is beautiful.

Critical Evaluation: Dumplin’ examines the ups and downs of relationships that can occur in high school, including friends, boyfriends, and parents. Specifically, the novel explores how body image issues can impact all of those relationships. But the story does show there are strengths in weaknesses and even though Willowdean does have some insecurities, she is still capable of accomplishing what she had intended to. Dumplin’ shows how persevering through doubts, tragedies, and misunderstandings can inspire others to also achieve their goals.

Reader’s Annotation: After everyone in Willowdean’s life seem to lose faith in her, Willowdean decides to take a stand for all girls thrown out of popular social circles by entering a beauty contest. After a series of failures, Willowdean has to decide if winning the contest is what’s going to show her town that fat girls are beautiful too.

Author’s Information: Julie Murphy is a potty-mouthed Southern belle who was born in Bridgeport, Connecticut, but found her home in Fort Worth, Texas. She’s never seen Star Wars, but has yet to meet a made for TV movie she didn’t love. When she’s not writing, Julie can be found cruising Costco for free samples, watching Sister Act 2, stalking drag queens on instagram, obsessing over the logistics of Mars One, and forever searching for the perfect slice of cheese pizza. She lives with her bearded husband, two vicious cats, and one pomeranian that can pass as a bear cub. DUMPLIN’ is her second young adult novel (Julie Murphy).

Genre: Young Adult Fiction, Realistic Fiction, Contemporary

Curriculum Ties: (Florida State Curriculum Standards): Understanding Key Literary Ideas

Book Talk Ideas:

  • We see many people come forward after, Willowdean applies for the beauty contest. Is body image an insecurity that affects everyone?
  • Is there a way Willowdean could have avoided fighting with her best friend? Or was that conflict necessary for the two of them to come to an understanding?

Reading Level/ Age Interest: Grades 9-12 (Scholastic) and Ages 15-18

Challenge Issues: Language, Loss, Sex, Drinking

Challenge Defense File:

Selection Policy

The System will select and maintain a comprehensive collection of print, non-print, audio visual and electronically accessed materials to meet the informational, educational, and recreational needs of the citizens of Sarasota County. The System will strive to offer wide ranging collections that meet the various ages, interests, educational levels, and cultural backgrounds of all members of the community and will provide collections through which an individual may explore all points of view and issues of interest. In making selections, the library staff will do so based upon principle rather than personal opinion, reason rather than prejudice, and judgment rather than censorship. Furthermore, staff will be responsive to public demand for materials of contemporary significance and interest, while balancing this with the need to collect and preserve materials of permanent value. While library staff makes material selections based upon the tenet of one system, one collection, selectors recognize the distinct characteristics and needs of the populace that each library services. Community profiles are used to guide selectors in efforts to develop special collections and to meet the unique patron needs within each library.

The ultimate responsibility for selection materials rests with the General Manager of Libraries and the Management Team, who in turn delegates selection responsibilities to the Collection Development Librarians (Sarasota County Policy).  


Murphy, J. (2015). Dumplin’. New York, New York: Balzer + Bray. Dumplin’ is an important look at how body images issues can impact so many parts of someone’s life. Willowdean’s story gives a detailed look about how overcoming insecurities is possible and also empowering for everyone who is watching.

Other recommendations like this book include:

Active Listening Skills

  • Remain calm
  • Listen thoughtfully and carefully to any arguments for the collection
  • Engage in a discussion that considers every concern, even if you do not agree


  • Keystone to Reading Book Award Nominee for High School (2017)
  • Goodreads Choice Award Nominee for Young Adult Fiction (2015)

Reconsideration Form


Selection Tools:

Why I chose this book:

I chose this book for its powerful message of body positivity. Insecurities can ruin lives and this book show how it’s okay to have them, but also not to let them keep people from what they were meant to achieve.


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