Playing the Cards You're Dealt
Playing the Cards You're Dealt
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Annotation: "Ten-year-old Anthony Joplin has made it to double digits! Which means he's finally old enough to play in the spades tournament every Joplin Man before him seems to have won. So while Ant's friends are stressing about fifth grade homework and girls, Ant only has one thing on his mind: how he'll measure up to his father's expectations at the card table. Then Ant's best friend gets grounded, and he's forced to find another spades partner. And Shirley, the new girl in his class, isn't exactly who he has in mind. She talks a whole lot of trash- way more than his old partner. Plus, he's not sure that his father wants him playing with
Catalog Number: #306674
Format: Perma-Bound from Publisher's Hardcover
Copyright Date: 2021
Edition Date: 2021
Pages: 309 pages
Availability: Available
ISBN: Publisher: 1-338-34853-1 Perma-Bound: 0-8000-0699-2
ISBN 13: Publisher: 978-1-338-34853-8 Perma-Bound: 978-0-8000-0699-0
Dewey: Fic
Dimensions: 22 cm
Language: English
Reviews:
Kirkus Reviews
Spades is as much a game of partnership and trust as it is about cunning and trash talk, but when the deck seems stacked against Anthony, he’s forced to consider what it means to be a good card player as well as a good (young) man.Ten-year-old South Carolina native Anthony Arnold Joplin prefers Ant; to his chagrin, however, the nickname “little man” has stuck. He’s short. He gets it. But when his spades partner and best friend Jamal’s constant ribbing leads even to Shirley, the cute new girl from Texas, teasing Ant about his height, he starts questioning his skills, his relationships, and how his so-called best friend makes him feel. Eventually, Ant and Shirley hit it off despite Ant’s being too shy to admit it, but issues in the Joplin household and Jamal’s own volatility put a lot of stress on this budding relationship. Ant’s father is an alcoholic and gambler with a lot of reductive opinions on masculinity that confuse the naturally compassionate and thoughtful Ant. Spades becomes a way for Ant to prove himself to his father and hopefully mend some familial wounds, as well as a compelling allegory for the ways he must navigate some uniquely thorny setbacks. A charismatic omniscient narrator explains the intricacies of the game and its venerable position in Black American culture. Realistic character and community portrayals give a difficult story a great amount of heart. Main characters are Black.A story about showing great courage and perseverance when life gets shuffled. (Fiction. 10-14)
Starred Review for Kirkus Reviews
Spades is as much a game of partnership and trust as it is about cunning and trash talk, but when the deck seems stacked against Anthony, he’s forced to consider what it means to be a good card player as well as a good (young) man.Ten-year-old South Carolina native Anthony Arnold Joplin prefers Ant; to his chagrin, however, the nickname “little man” has stuck. He’s short. He gets it. But when his spades partner and best friend Jamal’s constant ribbing leads even to Shirley, the cute new girl from Texas, teasing Ant about his height, he starts questioning his skills, his relationships, and how his so-called best friend makes him feel. Eventually, Ant and Shirley hit it off despite Ant’s being too shy to admit it, but issues in the Joplin household and Jamal’s own volatility put a lot of stress on this budding relationship. Ant’s father is an alcoholic and gambler with a lot of reductive opinions on masculinity that confuse the naturally compassionate and thoughtful Ant. Spades becomes a way for Ant to prove himself to his father and hopefully mend some familial wounds, as well as a compelling allegory for the ways he must navigate some uniquely thorny setbacks. A charismatic omniscient narrator explains the intricacies of the game and its venerable position in Black American culture. Realistic character and community portrayals give a difficult story a great amount of heart. Main characters are Black.A story about showing great courage and perseverance when life gets shuffled. (Fiction. 10-14)
Starred Review ALA Booklist
*Starred Review* Ten-year-old Anthony "Ant" Joplin has always been captivated by the game of spades. Game play has been passed down in his Black community from generation to generation, and Ant loves teaming up with his best friend, Jamal, to take on the other kids. After a disastrous showing in last year's junior division, Ant and Jamal are hell-bent on proving their prowess at an upcoming tournament. They've been practicing their skills d trash talk d feel confident about their chances, but change looms on the horizon: Ant has a burgeoning crush on a new fifth-grader, his beloved dad is struggling with work and acting strangely, and Jamal won't be honest with his pal about problems at home. As observant Ant awakens to issues of alcoholism and sexist double standards, he is unsure of how best to help the people he loves, particularly if they hurt him in the process. The ever-present game of spades is a clever thread that binds the story together, and a chatty, omniscient narrator is there to explain the game to the uninitiated. The cards provide plenty of fodder for spades-related wisdom ("you lose 100% of the games you're too scared to play"), as a fierce sense of family and community root Ant and lift him up even in the toughest moments. A compelling story of cards, courage, and compassion.
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Starred Review for Kirkus Reviews
Word Count: 53,977
Reading Level: 4.1
Interest Level: 4-7
Accelerated Reader: reading level: 4.1 / points: 8.0 / quiz: 513079 / grade: Middle Grades

With a deft hand, Johnson shows us there's no such thing as "too young" when it comes to questioning big ideas like manhood, or even family. Jason Reynolds, New York Times bestselling author of Look Both Ways and Stamped

Literary powerhouse and Coretta Scott King Honor- and Boston Globe / Horn Book Honor-winning author of The Parker Inheritance Varian Johnson explores themes of toxic masculinity and family legacy in this heartfelt, hopeful story of one boy discovering what it really means to be a man.

SECRETS ARE ALWAYS A GAMBLE

Ten-year-old Anthony Joplin has made it to double digits! Which means he's finally old enough to play in the spades tournament every Joplin Man before him seems to have won. So while Ant's friends are stressing about fifth grade homework and girls, Ant only has one thing on his mind: how he'll measure up to his father's expectations at the card table.

Then Ant's best friend gets grounded, and he's forced to find another spades partner. And Shirley, the new girl in his class, isn't exactly who he has in mind. She talks a whole lot of trash -- way more than his old partner. Plus, he's not sure that his father wants him playing with a girl. But she's smart and tough and pretty, and knows every card trick in the book. So Ant decides to join forces with Shirley -- and keep his plans a secret.

Only it turns out secrets are another Joplin Man tradition. And his father is hiding one so big it may tear their family apart...


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