Bump by Matt Wallace

Published by Katherine Tegen Books

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Summary:  MJ is in a pretty dark place at the beginning of the story: she still can’t admit that her father passed away suddenly a few months ago, and the sixth-grade mean girls have convinced her not to pursue her passion for gymnastics.  So when she discovers that her elderly neighbor is a former luchador who runs a wrestling school, MJ is determined to learn the lucha libre wrestling that she and her father loved watching together on TV.  At Victory Academy, MJ finds friends, a surrogate grandfather, and a talent for lucha libre that surprises her.  But something isn’t right at the academy, and both the school and its loveable director Papi may be in danger.  It falls to MJ, the youngest student in the school, to discover what’s going on and set things right in a heart-stopping wrestling match.  288 pages; grades 4-7.

Pros:  Readers will connect with MJ’s sense of isolation and longing to belong somewhere as she begins middle school.  Those not familiar with lucha libre will learn plenty, and the final showdown between good and evil is fast-paced and unforgettable.

Cons:  Just like in a good wrestling match, you’ll have to suspend your disbelief a bit for the final showdown between good (MJ) and evil (the villain who is trying to close Victory Academy).

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