Last April, my 1985 biography of Michael Jackson fell apart, and it didn't seem worth it to buy a new one. My selection policy on biographies is that I don't purchase one until the person is deceased, since the 80's biographies of Madonna and Michael J. Fox were also less than useful. Michael Jackson, The King of Pop, by Mary Pratt (from Abdo Publishing) was a very well-constructed volume. Family life, professional life, influences, difficulties and many other topics are covered in enough detail to make things interesting, but not overwhelming (for instance, the book mentions Jackson's trouble for touching a young boy inappropriately but doesn't dwell on this.) Pictures are abundant, sidebars add useful lists and information, and the reading level seems fine for middle school. This is from a "Lives Cut Short" series that also includes John Lennon, Heath Ledger, and Tupac Shakur. If only George Harrison could get a middle grade biography this good.
Question of the Day: What resources do you use to select books for your library? I feel that I am always missing something even though I read blogs, consult SLJ reviews, look at the Barnes and Noble best sellers for teens, read the Follett First Look catalog and do curriculum searches online, and talk to a lot of teachers, librarians and students for recommendations. I am also on some publishers' mailing lists. Yesterday the library was being used for pictures, so I scanned through 24 pages in our public library catalog of juvenile and young adult fiction from 2009 (AND checked out 150 books and had research classes wedged in with the computers, so I don't feel too bad). Am I missing something major?