Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Review: What I Learned From Being a Cheerleader by Adrianne Ambrose


Eleven-year-old Elaine Rewitzer is funny, smart and happy being a geek, but when she wins a spot on the Cross Creek Middle School Buccaneers cheerleading squad, she gets totally into her new life. Her mega-brain best friend Bethany warns that Elaine will just become "part of the herd," and her best geek-guy-pal, Tim, (who‛s struggling with nose polyps) feels forgotten. Will Elaine survive the roller coaster of pre-teen cheerleader fame? Will she win the heart of the cutest boy on the basketball team? Will she confess her "uncool" love for comic books? Will she lose Bethany and Tim‛s friendship for-evah? AND WHEN WILL SHE GET HER POM POMS???

The Elliott Review:

I'm going to admit that I wasn't sure about this book at first because, being the biggest nerd in the world, I really am not in love with cheerleading or cheerleaders, but as a teacher, I was very interested to see how the events of this story would play out. I was also concerned by the fact that the entire text of the book takes the form of journal entries. My doubts about this book, however, were completely erased by reading it.

I was blown away by Adrianne Ambrose's amazing characterization of a sixth grade girl. Each journal entry kept me interested in reading the next (and the next, and the next). The entries remind me so much of the diary I kept in middle school - complete with the "I hate [insert name here]" or "My life is sooo over," etc. Although my experiences were different from Elaine's, there is just something about the particular brand of misery that is middle school that all girls share, and that element is beautifully displayed here.

I know that my students will love this book, as well. Kids this age love being in each other's business, so I know that the diary format would be a huge appeal for both girls and even boys, who act like they don't care what's going on in the female mind. Although there are quite a few positive messages that all middle schoolers need to hear in this book, it still comes across as authentic and not at all preachy.

I would highlight recommend this for classroom libraries, to anyone who has a middle-school age student, and I would also recommend it to older nerds and non-nerds alike. It's a fun, fast read that is witty and fresh.

Thanks so much to Adrianne Ambrose for providing a copy of this title for a fair review. I was not required to write a positive review.