Venezia, Mike. Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak: Geek Heroes Who Put the Personal in Computers.
Mr. Jobs has just resigned from Apple yet again; I wish him the best. These two computer innovators are interesting guys, and this short Scholastic biography about them is not a bad introduction to the two. It is more about computers than their lives, centering on how computers moved from being huge pieces of office equipment to smaller ones for home use, something today's students might not fully understand.
Strengths: Good overview with plenty of facts.
Weaknesses: The comic style illustrations didn't add anything to the story for me. I would rather have had photographs. Am I the only one who finds Steve Jobs oddly attractive?
Berne, Emma Carlson. Ballet Bullies.
Marissa loves to dance and has always been good at it, but when she returns to classes after the summer, she is uncomfortable because she has gotten taller and "bigger" than all the other girls. When she is chosen for the lead role, she is worried because two other girls are making fun of her size, and she is afraid to wear the costume because it will make her look bigger.
Strengths: Girls certainly are self-conscious about their appearance, so this rings true. I love that Marissa is clearly African-American, but nothing is mentioned about this fact in the text.
Weaknesses: The resolution is a little too weak and tidy. Also, while the great Tuesday Mourning illustrations show Marissa as tall, she certainly doesn't look very "big" to me. I would have liked to have seen her as heavier.
Remond, Ronda. Cheer Challenge.
Amanda loves being on the cheer squad, but when she is chosen as the captain, she worries that she won't do a good job. She tries very hard to motivate her teammates, and suggests that they sign up for a competition. They work hard at it, but her best friend Rachel makes the decision to skip a practice, asking Amanda to lie for her. Amanda won't, so the group goes to competition without her.
Strengths: There are not many books on cheerleading, and again, there are quite a few pictures of the clearly African-American Amanda, and this fact does not come into the plot at all.
Weaknesses: Another too tidy resolution and very quick plot (recitals and competitions after a month of practice?), but this does keep things moving along.
The Jake Maddox sports books from Capstone are great for reluctant readers. There are so many different activities-- there is even one on Geo caching! I would buy every single book AND the Accelerated Reader test for them if I had the money. At $18 each, though, I am circumspect about the titles that I buy.