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Lupe Wong Won't Dance

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Lupe Wong is going to be the first female pitcher in the Major Leagues. She's also championed causes her whole young life. Some worthy…like expanding the options for race on school tests beyond just a few bubbles. And some not so much…like complaining to the BBC about the length between Doctor Who seasons.

Lupe needs an A in all her classes in order to meet her favorite pitcher, Fu Li Hernandez, who's Chinacan/Mexinese just like her. So when the horror that is square dancing rears its head in gym? Obviously she's not gonna let that slide.

256 pages, Hardcover

First published January 1, 2020

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Donna Barba Higuera

7 books288 followers

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 317 reviews
Profile Image for Bookishrealm.
1,781 reviews4,501 followers
March 6, 2021
I've been waiting for my chance to read this book for a while! The premise sounded like it was going to be interesting and different from some middle grade that I've read before. CW: bullying and racsim.

Lupe Wong Won't Dance is an interesting look at the woes of middle school while addressing hard hitting topics like racism, gender roles, bullying, grief, and dealing with the loss of a loved one. Lupe Wong, the main character, has the heart and spirit of a social activist determined to carve out spaces for herself and others. At the start of the novel she is determined to maintain getting all A's so that she can meet her hero Fu Li Hernandez who is also Chinacan/Mexinese. Lupe is on the right track until she finds out that in order to make an A in gym class she must square dance. Lupe is creative in the ways that she plots to get out of doing square dancing. What I enjoyed most about these creative plans is that Higuera utilizes them as teachable moments not only for Lupe but also for readers. These teachable moments were also perfect for the adults in the novel. I was surprised (yet also not surprised) of the origins of some of the songs utilized for square dancing. There's also an adamant challenging of gender roles which I appreciated. I don't particular find anything wrong with square dancing, but the entire concept of school dances having to revolve around "boy+girl" pairings is so detrimental to kids. Higuera also did an amazing job discussing/illustrating the multicultural aspects of Lupe's family life. I loved being able to see both sides of her family interact with each other.

While there were so many things that I enjoyed about this book, getting past some of the character development was tricky. Lupe is not necessarily a likeable character. There is this essence of perfectionism that sits at the core of Lupe and sometimes it's difficult to watch her steam roll friendships while trying to achieve her goals. There were characters that had a lot of personal issues of their own that Lupe was completely blind to in the name of trying to make sure she didn’t have to square dance. This is not to say that this isn't a relatable topic for a middle grade audience or that Lupe does not acknowledge her flaws, but some moments were cringy and also hypocritical. Lupe does learn through the narratives of her friends that she needs to check her behavior and it is important to remember as an adult reader that Lupe is a middle school kid who is learning more about the world around her and herself.

Overall, this book was well written and actually quite hilarious at some points. It had some slow moments that were difficult to get through because of pacing, but I'm pretty sure that middle grade readers are going to really enjoy this book.
Profile Image for CW ✨.
625 reviews1,686 followers
September 12, 2021
Lupe Wong Won't Dance was such a delight! It was funny, warm, empathetic (middle school is hard!), and, goodness, Lupe was just such a cool character. I just wanted to meet her and tell her how cool she was.

- About Lupe Wong, a Mexican-Chinese girl and baseball pitcher who made a deal with her uncle to get straight-A's so he can take her to meet her idol and favourite pitcher, Fu Li Hernandez. When she discovers that her class has to do square dancing for P.E., Lupe sets her sights on doing anything she can to get rid of square dancing.
- Gosh, this book was so funny. The humour is great and will be a hit with younger readers - I found myself smiling a bit too. I also loved Lupe's strong will and stubbornness - she stands up for what she believes in, and she strongly believes that she shouldn't square dance.
- It's also a great story about friendship and realising that, sometimes, we act selfishly when we become too engrossed in something. It's about how friendship is compromise, being honest, and opening yourself up to the fact that people aren't always right or perfect.
- There's so much emotional honesty in this book too - Lupe's family situation, her grief over her father and why meeting her idol, who is also Chinacan/Mexinese, is so important to her.
- It's also about how traditions can sometimes have bad and harmful history and be important to people, but it can be reclaimed and celebrated by changing it so it can be more inclusive.
- A super fun and quick read and I cannot recommend this enough!

Content warning: mentions of deceased parent, discussions about racism, bullying
Profile Image for Shenwei.
462 reviews223 followers
October 8, 2020
also found on my blog.

Disclaimer: I received an ARC from the publisher as part of the blog tour hosted by Colored Pages Book Tours in exchange for an honest review. This did not influence my evaluation of the book.

There’s nothing like middle grade fiction to remind me of my bygone days as an awkward tween/teen. In some ways, reading Lupe Wong Won’t Dance felt like peering into my own middle school memories. This book really evokes the way school is basically your entire life, your peers and teachers have the power to make your existence a living hell, and having friends you can lean on means everything.

The story is told in first-person narration from Lupe’s point of view and is imbued with the humor and emotional honesty expected from a kid who’s trying to assert her will in a world where she only has so much control over her life. I honestly related so much to Lupe’s stubborn opposition to the concept of square dancing. If I had been forced to dance as part of my P.E. class I would have hated it with every fiber of my being as well. Unlike me, however, Lupe actually acts on her will and begins a campaign to cancel the whole affair, with mixed, surprising, and even hilarious results.

Lupe Wong Won’t Dance is a wonderful representation of different friendship dynamics and the ups and downs of those friendships. The struggles of causing and mending a big falling out with your best friend, watching your close friends make other friends who either hate you or don’t vibe with you the same way–all of these experiences are explored in the story, along with the exhilaration of having friends who will stand up for you and make you feel less alone.

I enjoyed the family dynamics portrayed in the book. Lupe’s brother is annoying yet somewhat endearing, and her mom is the epitome of “I love you but please stop embarrassing me.” Her grandparents on both sides are doting, and her grandmothers have a funny competitive streak against each other. The book touches on grief a bit as Lupe’s father passed away prior to the start of the story. Her obsession with meeting the baseball player Fu Li Hernandez is motivated in part by the resemblance he bears to her dad in her mind.

Aside from grief, the story also addresses issues like bullying and racism. Lupe’s mixed race background isn’t the primary source of conflict or the main focus of the story, but some of the microaggressions surrounding that are present. More salient to the plot is the hidden history of square dancing and quintessentially “American” traditions that are steeped in racism and how schools can work to make educational environments safe and inclusive for students of color.

One last thing I liked about this book was the representation of one of Lupe’s best friends, Niles, who’s autistic. I was pleasantly surprised by the way Niles’ sensory issues and boundaries around touch and other neurodivergent traits were brought up in the story organically and without too much fuss. He receives accommodations for certain things, such as navigating crowded hallways, something that I think is important to depict and normalize in children’s literature. Disabled people exist and we deserve equal access to education just like everyone else.

If you’re looking for a diverse middle grade story that will make you laugh and maybe even cover your face in secondhand embarrassment, read Lupe Wong Won’t Dance!
Profile Image for Afoma (Reading Middle Grade).
510 reviews265 followers
March 21, 2021
Lupe Wong Won't Dance is a strong, funny debut about the trials of middle-school, especially for a sports-loving girl who refuses to stay boxed in by society. This novel tackles serious issues such as the death of a parent, racism, and gender inequality, with plenty of heart and humor. Friendships, life as Mexicanese/Chinacan (biracial; Chinese-Mexican), and the history of square dancing are also front and center in this one. Highly recommended for lovers of funny sports books and fans of Millicent Min, Girl Genius -- another Asian girl with strong opinions who is forced into a gym activity she despises.

Thanks to Levine Querido for an ARC of this book via Edelweiss, in exchange for an honest review. You can read my full review on my blog.
Profile Image for TL .
1,766 reviews35 followers
March 31, 2021
*Listened via Overdrive app *

Narrator and story: 4 stars 🌟

Random Amazon rec that turned out to be a homerun:) would highly recommend 👌👍.

It addresses some tough/sensitive topics and does it in a good way, showing what isn't okay.

I liked too that Lupe learns from her behavior as the story goes on. Won't say much so as not to spoil anything but one part in particular had me wanting to give her a big hug.
Profile Image for chloe yeung ♡.
392 reviews265 followers
September 12, 2020
i received a review copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. all opinions below are my own.

there’s a lot of things lupe wong would rather do than square dance in pe class – eat raw maggot puke, eat ten banana slugs a day for the rest of her life, and hang from a burning rope over the grand canyon filled with rattlesnakes. however, her uncle promised her that if she gets straights a’s, she gets to meet fu li hernandez, the first chinacan player in the major leagues, and she is determined to get a top grade in this class.

i loved lupe – once she sets her mind to something, there is no stopping her. her wit, determination, and sense of justice are all things i really admire about her. although she’s only in middle school, she’s not afraid to approach authority figures like her principal and sports coach to stand up for what she believes in. on top of this, she is a really loyal friend, and sometimes even makes the wrong decisions just to protect the people she cares about.

speaking of lupe being a loyal friend – i loved the friendships in this book! they’re not perfect, but that’s exactly what i liked about them – the author portrayed the friendship dynamics very realistically, and at the end of the day, you can still tell that deep down, the characters all really care about each other.

i could also really relate to lupe’s experience with mandatory dancing lessons – at my school, we learned a different type of dance every year – oh! susanna, hip hop, the cha-cha, jive, and ballroom dancing (which was canceled, thankfully) all gave me nightmares and all i could think about was – what if no one asks me to dance? what if i make a fool out of myself? lupe certainly handled the situation a lot better than i did, and i loved seeing her character growth – from being grumbly and frustrated to pushing through adversity with a smile.

we are all worthy. all a little different. 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.

last but not least, i loved the diversity! lupe is chinese on her dad’s side and mexican on her mom’s side – i loved reading about lupe’s dinner with her grandparents, where they brought both chinese food and mexican food to the table, and it sounded absolutely mouthwatering! apart from this, the cultural night held by lupe’s school was also one of my favorite scenes in the book ❤ moreover, there were quite a few diverse side characters – one of lupe’s best friends, niles, is on the autism spectrum, whie the other, andy, is african american.

to sum up, lupe wong won’t dance was a short, delightful read about perseverance and loving your friends, featuring a young and determined female athlete. ❤ despite this being a middle grade novel, it will surely bring smiles to all readers regardless of what age they are!
Profile Image for Mridula Gupta.
668 reviews170 followers
September 10, 2020
Guadalupe Wong’s enthusiasm is infectious. A determined and stubborn child who has a goal to reach- to get A in her PE Class and meet Fu Li Hernandez. But her plans derail time and again. Armed with PPT presentations, insights from a Child Psychologist etc. she launches a mission to remove square dancing from the curriculum because a sports-person has nothing to do with dance. As her focus shifts, based on the crisis at hand, she manages to get a gender-neutral dancing setup. Now picture a child, who would do anything to have her way. In the process, Lupe messes up. Big Time.

Lupe is Chinese and Mexican, a blend of both cultures exists in the house she is raised in, by her mother. She longs for her dead father and those were a few moments that touched my heart. The longing in her gaze, the directions and guidance she should have received from a father.

Lupe is sarcastic and her narration is hilarious. More than once I found myself chuckling. Middle School life is fun but each hurdle feels like a life and death scenario, and Lupe Wong might not be doing that great. With Exquisite and heartfelt narration, this book is sunshine in this dark and dreary world. Read this book with a cup of tea, on a lazy day. Because you need to savour this one.
Profile Image for Karen Kline.
388 reviews37 followers
May 16, 2020
Would you rather eat raw maggot puke or learn to square dance? If your name is Guadalupe Wong, the answer is a resounding, “Bring on the MAGGOT PUKE!” Lupe is a seventh grader at Issaquah Middle School, and she and her friend Niles love to play “would you rather.” Lupe is on her way to getting straight As at school, but seemingly out of left field a square dancing unit in p.e. class threatens to shut Lupe out of a big dream she has to meet her baseball idol Fu Li Hernandez. She has a deal with her uncle, if she makes all As he will take her to meet the pitcher for the Mariners baseball team. Life sometimes throws curveballs, though. Lupe is sure that she won’t be able to make an A now in p.e., though, because dancing is not for Lupe. Lupe is great at all sports especially baseball, but dancing shouldn’t even be part of p.e. With some research and an eye toward equity and inclusion, Lupe may just have a plan for getting square dancing eliminated from the curriculum once and for all. Lupe is of Mexican and Chinese heritage, think “Mexicanese” or “Chinacan,” and her Chinese dad always said, “Wongs don’t give up.” When Lupe shares her research findings with the school principal regarding the language in one of the square dancing songs, she convinces her that the school should showcase something more diverse and representative of the cultures at the school. Only the plan backfires and not only is square dancing still going to be a p.e. unit, but Lupe ends up being blamed for the end of the ever-popular school Field Day in order to make way for a more “gender-neutral” dancing event. Just when Lupe thinks things can’t get worse, though, she does something that threatens more than her dreams. Lupe may have put her own feelings and dreams before those of her best friend, and her dad is not here to help her through this messy middle school misstep.

Lupe is sure to hit home with anyone who has ever struggled to find their voice, and then learned that life may be more about learning to listen with an open heart. Open your heart and let this grand slam of a debut show you just what the ups and downs of middle school life are all about. Highly recommended #ownvoices.
Profile Image for Adri.
921 reviews805 followers
September 24, 2020
4.5 Stars

CWs: bullying, incurred racism and racist comments, brief descriptions of vomit and physical injury, exploration of grief and parental loss

Hi, this was wonderful, and I can't wait to talk more about it!
Profile Image for Adriana (SaltyBadgerBooks).
432 reviews18 followers
September 8, 2020
I'm giving this book a solid 3. I struggled a lot going back and forth between feeling meh about it to loving it and it just seems like the right rating for me. There were times the book seemed over the top on certain things, but then I had to keep reminding myself that this book is meant for people who are less than half my age (YIKES). Either way some things just didn't make sense to me to be included, but then I was also (literally) laughing out loud. It was a somewhat ridiculous and funny story about a tom-boy not wanting to square dance. I mean of course there's way more to it than that, but that's what it boils down to. But this book is seriously laugh out loud hilarious!

Lupe as a character... Oh goodness, where to start where to start. I both loved her and disliked her. She did came off as very very selfish, but I guess at the age who isn't selfish? (Most are, let's be honest.) At the same time though, she thought what she was doing was for the greater good, or had to do with her dad's advice, which I won't spoil. But at the same time she could be seen as relatable in some ways. About her fixation on her goals, and also wanting to protect/help her friends, when she wasn't blinded by being selfish, she was actually a really good character to read about. She was also super extreme though, and I think that's were my struggle came into play. She was an over-the-top somewhat stereotypical tomboy, and it didn't really sit right with me. I mean everyone is different, but growing up I was a tomboy too and did a lot of sports but I feel as though Lupe's representation of a tomboy gives us all a bad name, growing up I was a tomboy, and some of the things she does was just TOO much. Other than this I loved her story, I loved the reason why she needed all As, and the creative ways she went about trying to rid the world of the horrid square dance. Okay, maybe not the world, but her school at least. I loved that she challenged adults on their way of thinking (even though IRL that would not fly.)

I also loved that she was bi-racial, and that just because she was bi-racial doesn't mean she was fully raised to understand both sides of her heritage. I mean I'm a bi-racial adult and I'm STILL learning both sides of it. But I really appreciated how the author included little nuances of her heritage, and didn't 100% explain EVERYTHING to us, because as I said even Lupe didn't know everything about her heritage either. So there are some things that maybe the reader needs to research a little if they want to know more. Which I think this is 100% okay! I think readers should be doing more "homework" on the books they read. Even if it's to Google search a food item, that's still something new they didn't know about. 

There were a lot of diverse characters some where in passing and others had a little more of a role in Lupe's story. But it went from BIPOC to having a character on the autism spectrum.  Which I loved that they included this!!! Some people make assumptions when they hear "autism" most think of low functioning when in fact just because they fall on the spectrum might just mean they are more sensitive to things than someone else is. So I appreciate that this was included because I actually worked with some while I was in high school, and know that they would have loved to see themselves in a book, even if they weren't the main character. But still there.

This book has many BIPOC representations, and passes the bechdel test. At the time of reading there is no confirmed LGBTQ+ characters, though with the theme of book there is talk of you should be able to dance with who you want to and not be forced to dance with someone of the opposite gender.
Profile Image for Patricia.
2,239 reviews43 followers
December 1, 2021
Read for Librarian Book Group

Let's talk about what this book does well: it captures the sneaky mean and aggressive acts that middle schoolers carry out right under grownup noses.

I also feel for girls who love to play baseball and dream of being in the majors. Maybe their granddaughters will have a shot, but there's no way in hell MLB is letting women in any time soon.

Now let's talk about what had me sighing in annoyance and crowning this the worst book of my 2021 reading year so far.

I'm a square dancer and one of the things that square dancers think is the worst recruiting tool is to make middle school kids square dance. They hate it, they think it's dumb, most of the time it's not taught by a competent caller and so they think they've been square dancing, but they haven't. (Though I loved the short square dancing unit we did in fourth grade. I wished there would have been another one in junior high school.)

Because I'm a square dancer, I can tell you that the hardest part of square dancing is having even multiples of eight. It's rare to have everyone in the room dancing, and most of the time there are a handful of people sitting out because there weren't enough people to make a full square.

Not in this book! Every single square dancing day there the exact nearly correct number of students were there. No one got sick, or had an orthodontist appointment or transferred to a different school, or showed up mid-unit having transferred from a different school. It was always the exact number to leave the squares one person short so Lupe had to dance alone. Every. Single. Time.

It's not realistic. And this book was littered with unrealistic things happening just to stretch the story. "Since 1938 middle school students have learned to square dance in sixth grade." No they haven't. Because there weren't middle schools in 1938. "The boys must ask the girls and once you choose your partner you can't trade." "We always dance to Cotten Eye'd Joe." Given that the PE teacher had experienced her own trauma during her middle school square dancing unit, there's no way she wouldn't have mixed things up. Teachers run their classrooms how they see fit. There's no square dancing overlord who dictates how things must be.

There are plenty of opportunities to make amusing conundrums from square dancing. But when it's not grounded in any sort of reality the book isn't funny, it's just not very well written.

Granted, this book is written for kids, not adults, so a lot of these details will fly by the intended audience. But I think that shows a certain level of disrespect for the reader. Because you know who's harder on books that don't get things right than adults? Kids.

11/30/21 update. I still don't like this book. But I've just finished the author's next book, The Last Cuentista, and it's very good. My advice: leave Lupe and find that book!
Profile Image for dinah (dinahthereader).
30 reviews13 followers
September 8, 2020
Rating: 3.75/5

As a Chinese person myself, Lupe Wong Won’t Dance was such a spectacular read. This is one of the best middle-grade books I’ve read and I devoured it with such happiness.

The thing that I loved most about this book is the Chinese representation. From food to culture, this book was definitely spot-on about some things. I particularly loved the mention of don tat, Qingming, steamed eggs, and feng shui! Not forgetting the amazing lion dance! The representation is amazing and I strongly relate to some of the things that happened in this book.

“Sometimes people want us to be something we are not, instead of seeing who we really are. You are many things. You are Chinese. You are Latina.”

It is also worth mentioning that this book addressed topics like gender roles, bullying and racism. It is important to shine light on topics like these, especially to younger readers so that they are aware of what’s okay and what’s not. Lupe would be a role model for them, as she fought hard and never gave up to achieve what she wanted.

Besides that, this book was just so hilarious! I especially love the ‘Would You Rather’ games that Lupe plays with Niles.

“Would you rather eat raw maggot puke or learn the dance?”
“Raw maggot puke for sure.”

However, there were times where I felt like the protagonist, Lupe, was using her friends to get what she wanted for herself. There was an event where Lupe accused her best friend, Andy, that she only cared about herself while Lupe was so hell-bent on getting straight As. Though it is possible that she was just very stressed and was going to blow up anyways.

Funny, empowering and cheerful, I recommend this to anyone who loves middle-grade fiction, or just anyone!
Profile Image for Kate Adams.
562 reviews3 followers
March 14, 2021
I had such high hopes for this book, and waited ages hoping my library would get a copy, but eventually broke and bought it myself. What a disappointment it was.

The book had so many contradictions, both in plot and in characters. I just couldn’t shake a constant feeling of something being off.

And something that, as a teacher, keeps niggling at me - What kind of archaic school system still only gives As to the top 20% of students? The whole plot is based on this, seeing as Lupe needs an A in square dancing to meet her hero. I just couldn’t buy into the story.
Profile Image for Amparo Ortiz.
Author 9 books184 followers
May 27, 2020
Oh, my gosh, this book is a DELIGHT. Not only is Lupe's narration hilarious (I lost count of how many times I had to stop due to laughing fits), it's also a punch in the feels, especially when she grapples with her father's passing and her complicated social status at school. I want every kid in the world to read Lupe's story and join her on a journey to fight for what she believes in. Hopefully, she'll help them be brave enough to fight for what they believe in, too.
Profile Image for Hannah.
308 reviews13 followers
October 3, 2021
I don't get why she's so stressed out about getting an A in gym. All you have to do is show up and put in a tiny bit of effort and you'll get an A. That's nothing for a sports obsessed kid.
Profile Image for Almira.
544 reviews2 followers
January 11, 2022
Lupe Wong is really into Baseball - her goal is to meet Seattle Mariners pitcher Fu Li Hernandez, who is Chinese/Mexican just like Lupe - but she has to maintain all A's in her grades. When Coach Solden announces that the PE class will be "taking" Square Dancing this quarter - Lupe and her best friend, Andy, try every "trick in the book" to have it dropped! All for naught.

Lupe does major searching regarding the song they are supposed to be using - it has a "sexual" connection, possibly not something middle schoolers should be aware, the replacement song has "racial" connections - but still Square Dancing will be this quarter's PE "sport".

Donna Barba Higuera uses many "local" Washington state locations - which I enjoyed very much, living in Washington state.
She also brings into focus equity, diversity and inclusion at the middle school level.

Profile Image for Jonathan David Pope.
112 reviews208 followers
May 25, 2021
Lupe Wong Won't Dance was such a wonderful middle grade read. Lupe Wong has been championing for causes her entire life, and when her middle school requires square dancing as a part of the gym curriculum, she finds another worthy issue to petition for. This leads to Lupe battling with whether she is doing this simply to get an A, or truly advocating for others, and having to reflect on who she is stepping on along the way.

Building discussion around grief, standing up for yourself, advocating for a cause, and maintaining healthy friendships— Lupe Wong is hilarious and self-reflective from beginning to end.
Profile Image for Sharon Skinner.
Author 26 books53 followers
February 4, 2021
Strong writing. While at first I wasn't sure I could relate to the protagonist, I found myself drawn into the story and emotionally invested in Lupe's world. I particularly enjoyed the cross-cultural aspects. Well done.
Profile Image for Clara.
1,122 reviews86 followers
February 3, 2022
The last third of this was really strong, but the first two thirds were lacking for me.

CW: past parental death, bullying, racism
Profile Image for Lucía Xochimitl.
561 reviews1 follower
September 27, 2022
Adorable!!! it's the first time that I hear i hear the word "Mexicanese". Guadalupe Wong is an Incredible twelve year old girl who doesn't give up and learns to master the horrible fears of daring to fight for what she believes in.
Profile Image for miya (toomuchmiya).
20 reviews2 followers
September 16, 2020
Lupe Wong Won't Dance by Donna Barba Higuera tells the story of Guadalupe Wong, a twelve-year-old girl who dreams of becoming the first female pitcher in the Major Leagues. And the first Mexinese girl to throw a no-hitter. After her uncle promises her an encounter with Fu Li Hernandez, a Chinacan/Mexinese professional pitcher (and her idol) under the condition that she must get straight A's all across the board, she studies hard but there's just one problem.

This quarter's PE curriculum is... Square dancing. And Lupe Wong rather "eat raw maggot puke" than do that.

Well, much like Lupe Wong, square dancing was also a part of my school's curriculum (I hated it too). However, opposite to her, I just... played hooky. Yes, not my proudest moment, but not all of us can be persistent badasses like Lupe, ok?

Speaking of her, Lupe Wong is such a great character! She's so driven by her goals and determined to do right by her causes. She exhales the type of confidence and purpose kids have, while also being vulnerable and funny. I loved her character the most, although her friends were also great.

“Remember when I peed my pants in the fourth grade?” “Yeah.” I shrug like it was no big deal, but it was one epic accident. “My mom isn’t the one who got Ms. Cox in trouble for not letting me go to the bathroom after I’d already asked four times.” Her jaw is tight. “You did. You’re the one who got equal potty rights for everyone even if we’d just been at recess. You’re the one who made sure no one teased me.” Andy’s eyes are welling up a little." — Donna Barba Higuera, Lupe Wong Won't Dance

I wanted to read Lupe Wong Won't Dance by Donna Barba Higuera so badly because I don't see a lot of Asian-Latinx representation out there. I am not Mexinese (I'm Japanese-Brazilian), but I could relate so much with her struggles to conciliate both of her cultures. There was one scene, in particular, a family dinner, that felt so familiar to me.

I haven't read many Middle-Grade books and Lupe Wong Won't Dance is just the book I needed. It's funny and charming while also being relevant and thoughtful. It tackled issues like racism, gender norms, and historical oppression, but it's also a light book about a funny preteen who doesn't want to dance in school. I loved how fresh it felt.

The plot is interesting and gripping and I read the book in like... two hours? And it brightened my Sunday. The ending was very cute, all characters had their well-deserved growth. However, I had one little problem: a lot of very relevant issues with square dancing are brought up and they are dealt with some way or another, but I didn't feel like it was enough, you know? To quote Lupe herself, "If a system is flawed, they should scrap it". But that's just my personal opinion based on some very messed up childhood experiences with square dancing.

“I mean, what if I’m gay?” I ask. “Shouldn’t I be able to dance with a girl?”“Are you gay?”
“I don’t know. I’m only twelve. I thought I’d figure it out in a few years.” — Donna Barba Higuera, Lupe Wong Won't Dance

Lupe Wong Won't Dance by Donna Barba Higuera is a great Middle-Grade book. I recommend it to anyone looking for the perfect easy and fun reading that will make you cry-laugh and cry-cry and feel happy at the end.

Thank you for reading, and thanks to Colored Pages Book Tour and Publisher Levine Querido for this amazing opportunity!
Profile Image for Patty.
706 reviews1 follower
March 30, 2022
"...I'll be the first Chinacan or Mexinese girl throwing a no-hitter ..."
In the last book I read by Donna Barba Higuera, I was impressed by her use of her family background to blend her culture's folklore into a dystopian novel. But in this story, which was her first published middle grade novel, she touches not just on Lupe's Chinese Mexican background but brings in generational differences and every other way people are different and yet the same.

In her ackknowledgements the author says that her message was: "Whatever you are, be that. Be your most sincere, unique, beautiful self." Certainly we have heard this edict many times in stories but Higuera seems to keep Guadalupe moving from one complication to another and adds laugh-out-loud humor that I could appreciate because I can recall being in similar situations. The book is a page turner and you don't notice Lupe actually making a difference in people's thinking due to the lessons she seems to be unconsciously absorbing.

An advocate for voices that need to be heard, the author blends folklore with her experiences into stories that fill the imagination. The adults in Lupe's world are actually curious enough to listen to her. She may make mistakes and there are often roadblocks to her solutions but it was a delight to read and the plot was as multifaceted and compelling as her characters, whose distinctive voices and varied range of interests ring true with young readers as well as former middle schoolers!
I'll be looking for more from Donna Barba Higuera.
Profile Image for TheNextGenLibrarian.
1,564 reviews
May 9, 2021
“Sometimes people want us to be something we are not, instead of seeing who we really are. You are many things. You are Chinese. You are Latina.”
Lupe Wong’s got goals. She wants to be the first female pitcher for the Major Leagues of Baseball. She’s also never one to back down from a fight or a worthwhile cause. She’s made a deal at home that if she gets straight A’s she will get to meet her favorite pitcher, fellow Asian-Latino pitcher Fu Li Hernandez. Everything is going as planned until they are given the assignment to square dance in PE. And as we all know: Lupe Wong Won’t Dance.
This MG novel deals with great topics for middle grade readers such as tenacity, standing up for what you believe in, friendship and has amazing representation. I don’t think I’ve ever read a book featuring a Chinese-Mexican character, which just goes to show how we need to diversify our reading and for publishers to publish more diverse and inclusive literature. I also thought this story would be perfect to share for #aapiheritagemonth It won the Pura Belpre award and the Sid Fleischman Award for Humor. It’s a great middle grade fiction book and should be added to all the classrooms and libraries.
Profile Image for Alicia (A Kernel of Nonsense).
522 reviews99 followers
October 27, 2021
TW: racism, bullying, grief

Donna Barba Higuera’s Lupe Wong Won’t Dance is one of the most amusing middle grade novels I’ve ever picked up. Seventh grader, Lupe Wong, is determined to meet her favorite baseball player, Fu Li Hernandez. In order to do so, she has to get A’s in all her classes including P.E., which for Lupe ought to be a cinch, but this year is different. Her teacher is forcing her students to learn how to square dance! Lupe doesn’t think dancing should be considered a sport and makes it her mission to get her teacher to change her mind. Lupe is a great character. She is stubborn, smart, and endearingly precocious. Unfortunately, every plan she makes backfires. I loved seeing Lupe with both sides of her family. She is Mexican and Chinese and is blessed with being a part of both cultures. Her father passed away two years ago, but with the help of her mother and his grandparents, his memory is still kept alive. Her love for baseball is tied to her father and sometimes it’s hard for her to work through her feelings of grief. Lupe also learns important lessons in this one including how to be a better listener to her friends. Donna Barba Higuera’s Lupe Wong Won’t Dance was a true joy that had me laughing aloud from start to finish.
Profile Image for Bethany Parker.
238 reviews18 followers
September 9, 2021
I don't ever want to call reading a book a waste of time, but I could've been doing so many other things instead of reading this. The main character is simply so unlikeable it was a chore to finish this book. The only thing giving it more than one star was the Hispanic/Asian representation. I don't recommend it.
Profile Image for Gabrielle Schwabauer.
262 reviews18 followers
March 12, 2022
Things I liked: Niles's characterization is spot-on. It was very cool to see an autistic character in fiction whose autism has a consistent effect on his life, but who also participates in the entirety of the story without being shoehorned into stereotypes at every turn. Lupe's narrative voice is strong; she truly sounds like a middle-schooler navigating the treacherous waters of puberty, grades, friendship changes, and unfair school rules. Her passion for baseball was really fun, and I so appreciated that she got to have more typically "masculine" interests and male friends, and feel really hesitant about things like body changes or feminine social norms, without actually crossing a line into being sexist against the other girls in her class. She has friends who are girls as well, and she doesn't think she's better than everyone else because she's a jock. Lupe sticks up for herself consistently (and I think quite justly!), and grows into a character who learns to also stick up for others even when it costs her.

Things that made me go "hmmm": I sure would have liked one single adult to acknowledge Lupe's incredibly valid points about square dancing. I get that her earlier PowerPoint is silly and shortsighted, but feelings about the forced dancing make sense! She wants to know why dances created by white Americans, often accompanied by songs with overtly racist origins, are required study for the entire middle school, while art forms from other cultures are ignored or reviled. She doesn't like that kids are being forced to touch other kids and do something as culturally intimate as dancing for hours without any ability to set their own boundaries about it. And she's upset that they're forced to dance in boy-girl pairs, and that girls are not allowed to refuse any boy for any reason (not very consensual!) For most of the book, adults respond to these concerns by laughing at Lupe, ignoring Lupe, making the dancing situation more humiliating for all the kids, telling her it will "build character," or (eventually) making some halfhearted concessions. Even the BIPOC parents in the story are like "I love square dancing! It's a tradition! You have to wear these overalls and straw hat!" And none of that is BAD, story-wise, because that's how crappy systems are. They wouldn't stick around if at least some people weren't convinced they were harmless or even beneficial. But it would have been nice for the story itself to acknowledge that Lupe didn't actually need to just try harder to like square dancing and accept that her teacher forced her to dance alone every single week for an entire semester (which apparently was to build character because her PE teacher was bullied . . . worse . . . over square dancing???? Great, thanks???) I'm glad Lupe changed some unjust traditions in the end. And I DO agree that there is merit to figuring out how to make a situation livable when you can't make it go away. But I wish we'd ended on less of a "I thought I hated this, but then I gave it a chance!" note and gone deeper into acknowledging that it's not really the job of uncomfortable, ignored children to override their own boundaries so many times that it eventually feels normal.
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