The Fifth Quarter

First Second. May 2021. 240p. Tr $21.99. ISBN 9781250244178; pap. $12.99. ISBN 9781250244185.
Gr 4-6–Fourth grader Lori Block loves playing basketball, even if she’s not particularly great at it. Her coach puts her in during the fifth quarter, an extra period before the real game starts, when developing players are given the chance to practice their skills on the court. She’s determined to make the regular roster next year, and when her supportive parents help her join an after-school basketball program, she practices with other aspiring athletes. As with many kids, sportsmanship doesn’t come naturally to Lori; she is excited when she wins but brokenhearted when she loses and sometimes takes out her failed hoop dream frustrations on her teammates and friends. To make matters even more complicated, her passion for basketball isn’t shared by her best friend and teammate Sophia, who would rather spend recess playing unicorns with their other friends than shooting hoops with Lori. Navigating tensions among her friends and coping with the strain of her mom running for a town council seat, Lori strives to improve her ball skills—and learns a lot about perseverance and grit along the way. The illustrations have a classic “Archie” comic book feel with vibrant colors. The relatable story line has an uplifting message and a Raina Telgemeier–esque vibe, which will appeal even to readers who aren’t very sporty. Lori, her family, and Sophia are white.
VERDICT You won’t want to pass on this one! A recommended first purchase.

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