Book Tour: It Happened on Saturday by Sydney Dunlap

It Happened on Saturday


Sydney Dunlap

Middle Grade Contemporary

Publisher: Jolly Fish Press

Publishing Date: February 21, 2023

Page count: 272 pages


Thirteen-year-old Julia would much rather work with horses at the rescue barn than worry about things like dating and makeup. But when her BFF meets a boy at camp, Julia’s determined not to get left behind. After a makeover from her older sister, she posts a picture of herself online and gets a comment from Tyler—a seemingly nice kid who lives across town. As they DM more and more, Julia’s sure that Tyler understands her in a way her family never has. Even better, their relationship earns her tons of attention at school.

Then Julia finds out Tyler’s true plan, and her world is turned upside down. She fiercely guards her secret, but could her silence allow her friends to fall into the same trap?

In this timely, heartfelt debut, author Sydney Dunlap tells a story of a middle-school girl who narrowly escapes becoming a victim of human trafficking and must find her way toward hope and healing after this traumatic event.

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5 stars!

Excellent story for middle-grade readers that realistically demonstrates the dangers lurking online.

It Happened On Saturday is a marvelous cautionary tale that explores the dangers lurking online in the guise of social media. In this case, the threat is kidnapping for sex trafficking. Julia is a regular girl with the same troubles and concerns felt by most elementary and middle-grade-aged children: feeling ignored, not belonging, loneliness, and parents distracted by having to make a living. She is also experiencing changes in her once stable relationship with her best friend, who has moved on from childhood interests to having a boyfriend. Young readers will easily relate to her feelings and everyday life.

The story demonstrates some of the simple yet devious tactics employed to gain a victim’s trust, manipulate their choices, and isolate them from safety. Julia is somewhat wary at first, especially when Tyler reveals too much too soon. But the guy is a pro and recovers to the point where Julia gets comfortable again.

This book would be an excellent choice to share with older elementary/middle-grade children or students to launch a discussion of this topic at school or home.


Sydney Dunlap is a former elementary school teacher who has worked with at-risk youth in a variety of settings, and she enjoys reading and writing heartfelt, hopeful fiction that expands young readers’ awareness of tough topics. She is a published poet and has also written for a newspaper. A lifelong animal lover, Sydney lives with her family in a home where the dogs and cats outnumber the people.

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Filed under Book Reviews, Childrens, Contemporary fiction, Middle-Grades

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