Review of Surely Surely Marisol Rainey

Surely Surely Marisol Rainey
by Erin Entrada Kelly; illus. by the author
Primary, Intermediate    Greenwillow    160 pp.   g
8/22    978-0-06-297045-9    $16.99
e-book ed.  978-0-06-297047-3    $10.99

Marisol, the anxious heroine of Maybe Maybe Marisol Rainey (rev. 5/21), makes lists of favorite and least favorite things, with gym class—specifically the kickball unit—topping the latter. Although she has never played before, she dreads it because she knows that “the spotlight shines on you when you kick. The spotlight shines on you when you pitch…Surely Marisol will burst into flames under all those spotlights.” Her worries only grow as classmate Evie brags about her own kickball prowess. Kelly shows her deep understanding of the emotional lives of her characters. When Marisol is angry and embarrassed about Evie’s unkind comments and her own poor skills, she lashes out at best friend Jada. “­Marisol thought it would make her feel better to snap at Jada, but it doesn’t. She only feels worse.” The action takes place over two weeks, during which Marisol tries a variety of techniques to first avoid and then overcome (at least a little) her fears. ­Supporting characters—Marisol’s father, away all week working on an oil rig; her athletic older brother, who teaches her the Ultimate Rule of ­Kickball; classmate Felix, who claims to talk to animals—are all fully developed and engaging contributors to the lively, realistic, and emotionally honest story. When ­Marisol finally kicks the ball and makes it to first base, readers will be cheering “way to go, Marisol” along with her classmates, teacher, and family members.

From the July/August 2022 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Maeve Visser Knoth

Maeve Visser Knoth is a librarian at Phillips Brooks School, Menlo Park, ­California. She has chaired the Notable Children’s Books Committee and taught at Notre Dame de Namur University and Lesley University.

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