Lupe Wong Won’t Dance

Levine Querido. Sept. 2020. 272p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781646140039.
Gr 3-7–Readers will be immediately drawn into the zippy first-person voice of Lupe Wong, future first female pitcher in Major League Baseball and defender of social justice. Young people will identify with the torture that is the middle school square-dancing unit. Lupe is determined to fight for the right to not participate. In order to earn the privilege of meeting her favorite baseball player she must get straight A’s, and that includes square dancing. Her grandfather’s wisdom influences her to choose to “overcome instead of fighting.” Lupe finds that trying something new, and adding her own spin on it, can make her life richer. Readers will enjoy the time spent with Lupe; reluctant sports-loving readers might even find reading as palatable as Lupe eventually finds dancing. Lupe must also learn to navigate the rough waters of friendship in seventh grade when everything gets complicated. Debut author Higuera imbues the text with diversity through cultures and family structures, as well as neurodiversity; Lupe’s friend Niles is autistic. Lupe manages to make the square-dancing unit work, all while fixing some age-old traditions that are no longer culturally relevant. Kids becoming aware and ready to fight for social justice causes will be inspired by Lupe, who learns to sift through what she doesn’t like and fight for that which is most important.
VERDICT A humorous, fresh #OwnVoices title sure to appeal to social justice advocates and reluctant square dancers everywhere.

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