art coverBibliographic Information
Title: The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things
Author: Carolyn Mackler
ISBN: 978-0-7636-1958-2
Publisher: Candlewick
Copyright: 2003

Book Details
Formats: hardcover, paperback, Kindle
Page Count: 256
Printz Honor Book



Plot Summary

Virginia Shreves is an overweight, self-conscious sophomore at a private high school in Manhattan. She hides her fat by wearing baggy clothing. Viginia’s family is not supportive; her mother is obsessed with her daughter’s weight, while her father is always complimenting skinny girls and making her feel inadequate. Her older sister, Anais, joined the Peace Corps in order to escape her mother, “The Queen of Denial”. Her brother, Byron, was suspended from Columbia University for committing date rape. This event forced her to completely ree-valuate her opinion of her big brother.

Virginia finally stands up to her mother and gains control of her life. She goes to Seattle to see her best friend Shannon, and buys the ticket without telling her mom. Towards the end, she becomes rebellious; she dyes her hair purple and gets her eyebrow pierced. She also makes new friends, realizes what she wants to become and sees the value in herself as a person. She also realizes that she must understand who she is on the inside and that this is much more important than external appearances. She takes up kickboxing, and realizes that it is fine to change the way one looks on the outside, as long as this is done for the right reasons and the changes have a positive impact on a person physically and emotionally.

Critical Evaluation

Well-written and engaging, this first-person view of the world is told from the perspective of an overweight and underachieving teen in a family of perfectionists.

Reader’s Annotation

The Shreves are a picture-perfect family – except for “fatso” daughter Ginny. Then, the phone rings.

Information about the Author

Carolyn Mackler is an American author of young adult literature.

Her novels are in print in many different countries such as: the United Kingdom, Australia, Germany, France, Italy, Korea, the Netherlands, Denmark, Israel, and Indonesia. Mackler has also contributed to many teen magazines including Seventeen, Storyworks, Glamour, Girl’s Life, American Girl, and CosmoGIRL!.

Mackler was born in Manhattan, but moved to Brockport, New York, which is the setting for many of her novels. From 1991 to1995 she attended Vassar College where she obtained a degree in Art History. Mackler took an internship at Ms. magazine, where she began writing articles. Mackler was never satisfied with writing for a magazine and in 1997 took a course at NYU entitled Beginning Your Novel. During this time, Mackler began her first draft of Love and Other Four-Letter Words. In 2003, Mackler married her husband and they now live in an apartment in Manhattan with their two sons.


Curriculum Ties

Physical education, exercise

Booktalking ideas

Does change come from within or is it exerted from the outside?

When should we, and when should we not, compare ourselves to others?

Reading Level/Interest Age
Teen age to YA

Challenge Issues

Eating disorders, Date rape



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