Freestyle by Gale Galligan

Published by Graphix

Summary:  Cory’s part of Eight Bitz, a dance team getting ready for the annual Bronx Kids Battle dance competition.  When progress reports come out, though, his straight C’s upset his parents, who insist that he cut back on dance and get a tutor.  That tutor winds up being Sunna, his science lab partner who Cory has dismissed as a nerd.  But when he accidentally discovers her passion for yo-yo’ing, he changes his mind completely.  Sunna proves to be a good tutor of both the yo-yo and the more academic subjects, and before long Cory has come a long way with both and earned his way back into Eight Bitz.  There are rifts within the team, including Cory’s new friendship with Sunna, and the eight kids have to work hard and compromise to keep the group together.  A yo-yo competition and the Bronx Kids Battle wrap things up, with realistic successes for everyone.  272 pages; grades 3-7.

Pros:  It’s graphic novels week after a bunch of them arrived for me at the library all at once. This one, from Baby-Sitters Club alum Galligan, is a high-energy middle school story with plenty of action and early teen angst.  The artwork beautifully captures the dance and yo-yo moves, and the kids do an admirable job of working out their differences pretty much without parental assistance

Cons:  There’s a good review on Amazon by a Muslim parent who mentions some of the ways Sunna is not accurately portrayed, including being alone with Cory in her bedroom and holding his hand when they dance together.

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