Review of Lupe Wong Won't Dance

Lupe Wong Won’t Dance
by Donna Barba Higuera
Intermediate, Middle School    Levine Querido    272 pp.    g
9/20    978-1-64614-003-9    $17.99
e-book ed.  978-1-64614-004-6    $17.99

The only thing standing between Lupe Wong and her chance to meet fellow Chinacan (or is it Mexinese?) Fu Li Hernandez, “the first Asian/Latino pitcher in the major leagues,” is an A in PE class. But for seventh graders at Issaquah Middle School, that means square dancing. Lupe, always willing to fight for a cause, is determined to cancel what she sees as both an obstacle and an outdated tradition. Unfortunately, she ends up alienating her two best friends (not to mention the rest of the class) in the process. Now Lupe has to decide which causes are worth fighting for and what she’s willing to sacrifice to do the right thing. Ultimately, her efforts both raise awareness of the racist history of the song “Turkey in the Straw” and make room for more than one kind of dancing at Issaquah’s first annual Family Celebration of Cultures Night. As Lupe observes, “Some of us aren’t even from here. And some of us were right here before this country existed. But none of us are any better than the other.” Issues of identity, equity, and inclusion are explored with humor and heart in Higuera’s debut, and readers will cheer right along with Lupe’s family and friends when she, accompanied by Fu Li, promenades all the way to the pitcher’s mound.

From the November/December 2020 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Anamaría Anderson
Anamaría Anderson is a writer, translator, and museum educator at the National Gallery of Art.

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