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The Independent Critic

 "Surely Surely Marisol Rainey" an Absolute Delight 
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It's hard to imagine that you won't fall completely in love with young Marisol Rainey, the delightful central character in Newbery Medal-winning author Erin Entrada Kelly's "Surely Surely Marisol Rainey."

If we weren't Marisol when we were in a middle-grade, then we most certainly had a Marisol in our life. She's more than a little quirky, extremely loyal, loves her family, adores her best friend Jada, and is extremely jealous of the athletically inclined Evie.

For the record, Marisol is NOT athletically inclined.

A stand-alone companion to Kelly's "Maybe Maybe Marisol Rainey," "Surely Surely Marisol Rainey" is a good-hearted, smile-inducing page turner from beginning to end. Having not read "Maybe Maybe Marisol Rainey," or any other of Kelly's books for that matter, I fell so completely in love with this one that it immediately had me looking up Kelly's previous books with eager anticipation of my future reading.

There's just so much to love here.

"Surely Surely Marisol Rainey" is told in short chapters with illustrations by Kelly herself on nearly every page. The book feels warm and welcoming from page one and that sense of welcome never wears itself out. The story centers around Marisol's anxiety about gym class, an activity she hates very likely even more than radishes.

That's a lot.

When time for kickball arrives, Marisol starts to panic knowing for sure that everyone around her is far more skilled than she is and she's destined to be embarrassed. We meet a host of delightful characters including her endearing parents, older brother Oz, best friend Jada, that athletic Evie, and even the animal whispering Felix.

There are others.

They all add up to a delightful reading experience that should easily please the middle-grade crowd and other young readers. Kelly has a refreshing gift for talking up to children - trusting their intelligence enough to create a story that adds in some very cool cultural references and immerses the reader in a celebration of differences, an appreciation for friendship, and the reward that often arrives with persevering even when things seem totally impossible.

"Surely Surely Marisol Rainey" may very well be my first experience with Erin Entrada Kelly but it most certainly won't be my last. 

Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic