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“Reading a well-written book is akin to watching an acrobat on a tightrope. And Varian Johnson is the best of acrobats―he’s made the task look effortless with an air of compassion, tenderness, humor, and a dab of magic realism.”

– Christopher Paul Curtis, Newbery Award-winning author of BUD, Not BUDDY and The Watsons Go to Birmingham—1963

A story about showing great courage and perseverance when life gets shuffled.”

Kirkus Reviews, Starred Review

A compelling story of cards, courage, and compassion.

Booklist, starred review

“Johnson deftly and realistically portrays family, friend, and classroom dynamics alongside lively descriptions of the beloved game (of spades).

– Publishers Weekly, starred review

More From Varian Johnson

Coretta Scott King Author Honor winner

Boston Globe / Horn Book Honor winner


“A candid and powerful reckoning of history.” — Kirkus Reviews, starred review

“Powerful…. any reader with a taste for mystery will appreciate the puzzle Candice and Brandon must solve.”— The New York Times Book Review

BCALA Youth Literacy Award Winner

Eisner Award Nominee


“A beautiful reflection on sisterhood and coming of age that belongs in every collection.” — Booklist, starred review

“Has all the hallmarks of the kind of books that become timeless classics.” — Nerdist

Kirkus Reviews Best Book

ALA Notable Children’s Book


“Do yourself a favor and start reading immediately.” — REBECCA STEAD, Newbery-winning author of When You Reach Me and Liar & Spy

Kids’ Indie Next List pick


“A satisfying stand-alone sequel; new readers and old friends will be hoping for further adventures.” — Kirkus Reviews, Starred

An “adventure that surprises, delights and expands the possibilities of the caper mystery.” — The Washington Post