cover image Bathing Ugly

Bathing Ugly

Rebecca Busselle. Orchard Books (NY), $12.95 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-531-05801-5

When Betsy is 13, her parents finally grant her lifelong wish to go to summer camp. It may be old-fashioned and girls only, but it's still camp and it's away from home. But once at Camp Sunny Days, overweight Betsy has misgivingsshe longs to be as sleek and self-assured as Lolly, her popular swimming buddy. After the first weekly weigh-in, when she turns out to be the heaviest girl in camp, Betsy cuts back her eating in order to lose enough weight to become a contestant for the end-of-camp bathing beauty contest. But even though Betsy slims down, she's chosen to represent her cabin as a comical bathing ugly . As the camp heats up to a fever pitch in preparation for the all-important beauty contest, she sees that even the prettiest girls are as insecure as she is. Dramatically, this could have been punchier, with a few more loose ends tied up. But readers will appreciate the realistic results of Betsy's unreal expectations, and the author's resisting of pat solutions. By winning the ugly contest with flairand a vengeanceBetsy drives home the point that being ``beautiful'' isn't the most important thing in life. Ages 12-up. (Mar . )