The Tryout by Christina Soontornvat, illustrated by Joanna Cacao

Published by Graphix

Summary:  Seventh grade is tough, and to Christina, the cheerleading squad looks like they have it all figured out.  She and her best friend Megan decide to try out, a two-step process that involves a first round with a panel of judges and a second round in which the whole school votes.  Christina, who is Thai-American, and Megan, who is Iranian-American, have often felt like outsiders in their small Texas town.  Megan decides to partner with someone else for the tryouts, feeling that they’ll stand out less if paired with white girls.  Christina is hurt but finds a new partner and throws herself into preparing for the big day.  Things don’t turn out the way the girls are hoping, but just getting through the terrifying experience of auditioning in front of their classmates gives both girls new confidence to pursue other goals.  Includes an author’s note and five pages of photos that give more information about Christina’s real-life middle school experiences.  272 pages; grades 3-7.

Pros:  Add this to the list of high-quality books produced by the incredibly prolific Christina Soontornvat. Readers will be entertained and inspired by her middle grade graphic memoir that looks at racism, bullying, and learning to be yourself.  

Cons:  This seems like a truly terrible way to choose a middle school cheerleading squad.

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