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Playing the Cards You're Dealt

af Varian Johnson

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923295,746 (4.19)2
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.… (mere)
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Viser 3 af 3
Great audiobook narrator; he was the perfect narrative voice.

10-year-old Ant is teased about being small and weak. But is it really weak to be a nice person and talk about your feelings? Ant's best friend has bullying tendencies and seems to be carrying on the tradition of toxic masculinity, but luckily Ant makes a new friend who is 1000% better. Her name is Shirley and she gets teased about being tall and confident.

This was kind of like a sports story, but with a card game called Spades instead of athletics. It reminded me a bit of [b:Not an Easy Win|61356472|Not an Easy Win|Chrystal D. Giles|https://i.gr-assets.com/images/S/compressed.photo.goodreads.com/books/1664754617l/61356472._SY75_.jpg|96769757] which featured chess. Spades is often accompanied by trash talk, but the "yo mama" jokes in this book are so old and corny. I cringed.

From the description I read, I thought Ant's recently deceased grandfather would play more of a role in the story, and while he definitely has a presence in the story, he's not talked about much. This is not a book about grieving the loss of a grandparent. It's more of a book about emotional maturity, friendship, trust, and coming to terms with a very flawed parent.

Content notes: Ant's father is an alcoholic but tries to hide it. He also has a gambling addiction. There is nothing super traumatic on the page. ( )
  LibrarianDest | Jan 3, 2024 |
First, I love Dion Graham's voice and I will definitely look for more book narrated by Dion in the future.

Second, this was a great book. I love how many different topics are brought up in this book, alcoholism, gambling addictions, drug addictions, being raised by grandparents/aunts/uncles, and financial issues. These are all issues that children around the world have to deal with and can relate to.
I also love that this book centers around family and community and that everyone in the family has learned Spades and there is a huge community tournament.

I hope that games like Spades, Bid Whist, Hearts, Gin Rummy, Scopa, Cribbage, etc. are still played in households today. I grew up playing some of these games and I am so grateful that I learned how to play. ( )
  Shauna_Morrison | Jun 25, 2023 |
Ten-year-old Ant is "dealing" with a lot—Dad's addiction and lies, a friend turning on him, taunts about his height, a new friend who is (gulp) a girl and whom (gulp) he might like-like. And, oh yeah, preparing for the 22nd annual spades tournament. The card-playing theme ties everything together, even the tough topics. The narrator (identity hidden for most of the book) is refreshing. Definitely adding to our grade 4 and 5 school library. Varian Johnson, I can't wait for your next book. ( )
  DonnaMarieMerritt | Mar 16, 2022 |
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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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