I usually review picture books, so just to be clear – this is not a picture book. 🙂
It’s a super awesome middle grade novel written by my extremely talented critique partner, Donna Barba Higuera, who writes both middle grade novels AND picture books. (Look for her first picture book, EL CUYCUY IS SCARED, TOO!, coming out in the Spring of 2021.)
The first thing I love about this book is that Lupe Wong is such a real and lovable character. She’s funny, determined, principled, and flawed. She’s one of those characters that makes you want to hold on and stay in her life after the last page is turned. The rest of the books’ characters are also lovable and fun, relatable and realistically imperfect. I love how even Coach – the antagonist who at first seems heartlessly determined to torture her gym class by making them learn square dancing – turns out to have a backstory and a big heart that make you want to wrap her in a big hug by the end of the book. The cast is also wonderfully diverse. Donna respectfully and lovingly represents a mixed race Mexican/Chinese family, an autistic middle schooler, a Black family, and so many more.
Which leads me to my other favorite thing about this book. Donna somehow manages to promote big important issues like diversity, feminism, anti-bullying, and inclusion, without being preachy at all. These issues are all wrapped up in a laugh-out-loud funny story that will entertain and make you giggle from start to finish. This is one instance where funny definitely does not equal fluff. LUPE WONG WON’T DANCE is full of both humor and heart. I even cried at one point.
And that makes LUPE a winner in my book.
*Note: I was gifted a free ARC of this book in exchange for my honest review.