Macy, Sue. Wheels of Change: How Women Rode the Bicycle to Freedom (With a Few Flat Tires Along the Way)
When bicycles first became popular in the 1800s, women were derided for riding them, made to ride side saddle (!), and usually forced to ride in dangerous long skirts to avoid public censure. Still, having a mode of transportation they could use that did not rely on anyone else was important in expanding opportunities for women.
Strengths: This is a beautifully laid out book, replete with photographs, period illustrations, and plentiful sidebars about various historical characters. Any book that teaches ME something is fantastic! I also like Sue Macy's Winning Ways, but this is formatted in a much more attractive way.
Weaknesses: None, really. Just want to say that the worst bicycle mishap I've had involved track pants!
Colman , Penny. Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony: A Friendship that Changed the World.
Two of the most influential women in the women's suffrage movement were very different women but also great friends. Stanton was married and had a number of children; Anthony was a career woman: a teacher who started out being more concerned with temperance and abolition than women's issues. This exhaustive biography covers their individuals lives and involvements as well as their friendship, which lasted over 50 years.
Strengths: My grandmother was 27 years old before she was able to vote, so I have a strong interest in making middle school girls aware of the opportunities that they have now that many women did not. Plentiful photographs add to this important book.
Weaknesses: Slightly longer than many middle school students would want to read. Colman's other books tend to be more like the title above-- more illustrations and less text. At 236 pages, mainly text, this will take a dedicated middle school reader. Excellent, however, for high school research.
Deacon, Carol. Fabulous Party Cakes and Cupcakes.
*Sigh* This is another very pretty cupcake book, like What's New Cupcake. It will get checked out frequently, but is not very useful. The current fascination with fondant kerflummexes me entirely. It's not any good to eat, it's hard to work with, and the cakes rarely turn out as well as the ones in the books. For a book that students will actually use, I would purchase Betty Crocker's Decorating Cakes and Cupcakes instead.