Nonfiction Monday was started by Anastasia Suen, and the round up is at Playing by the Book. Middle Grade Monday is hosted by Shannon Whitney Messenger. Lots of links to sites can be found at those places.
Krull, Kathleen. Big Wig: A Little History of Hair.
Starting with prehistory in Africa, Krull follows key developments in hair through the ages. Wigs and ungents in Egypt, Mayan skull shaping, and weird Greek and Roman cures for baldness are all quickly covered. Coming up to the present, Madame C.J. Walker, the Beatles and Dorothy Hamill get brief mentions. More brief notes follow at the end.
Strengths: Can't think of any other books about hair.
Weaknesses: This is more of a picture book, and I was disappointed. Several of the illustrations have unexplained anachronisms in them (monkeys sitting under hair dryers?) and I just wanted MORE information. I would have preferred that the notes in the end be incorporated into the body of the book at the appropriate time. The book is fine for a picture book; I was just hoping for something a little more in depth.
Ditmars, Maribeth R. The Bald-headed Princess.
Eleven-year-old Izzy, who loves to play soccer, is blindsided by a diagnosis of leukemia after she passes out at a game. Very quickly, her world narrows to the hospital, where she is getting chemotherapy, and home, since going to school might compromise her weaknened immune system. Her best friend, Lizette, doesn't even know at first about her illness, and when she returns from camp doesn't quite know how to react. Details of being in the hospital and dealing with the effects of chemotherapy make up the bulk of this book, and Izzy's reactions to the other things going on in her life are portrayed in a straightforward manner.
Strengths: Anything I can remember reading about children with cancer (except Drums, Girls and Dangerous Pie, as well as the works of Lurlene McDaniel) is at least 20 years old, so this does fill a gap.
Weaknesses: There are so many details about dealing with cancer that the book almost verges on the didactic, but that's a quibble.
Stiefvater, Maggie. Forever.
Must admit that I had a hard time getting into this one, but HAD to read it before I bought it. Whose bright idea was it to name a young adult novel Forever? Does Scholastic not realize that this title makes middle school librarians hyperventilate? (Think Judy Blume.) Since Shiver and Linger had touch and go moments of appropriateness, there was no way I was going to buy this without reading it. Verdict: okay for middle school consumption, as far as I can tell. Some kissing, some mention of being with boyfriend all night, but nothing instructional. As for the plot-- Grace is a wolf, so her parents think she is missing, but when it gets warmer she comes back to Sam only to find out that Isabel's father is trying to arrange a mass shooting of wolves. Cole is experimenting with chemicals to try to "cure" the group's condition. Very lyrical writing, very teen angsty; the girls will love it. The red ink... meh. My shriveled middle aged soul is no doubt the cause of my lukewarm feelings about this.