This is a clear guidebook for people who have already decided they are interested in cheerleading. Covering topics and terminology not widely known, someone new to the sport could learn quite a bit from the book. The cover alone clearly gives away the market as young girls. Inside, the content does very little to press the issue of gender diversity, beyond having a few images with boys in some squads and showing the pictures of all-male pep squads from the 1800s. Lisa Perrett contributes a few illustrations in a Nickelodeon cartoon style consistent with the book's design. They had to turn to her to illustrate the specific techniques and moves. I wonder if they would have done so if the stock photo companies had had a full set of these on hand? Was Perrett on the project from the beginning, or hired when they figured out they couldn't get the book finished with stock photo?
When it gets right down to it, I wanted to hear and see cheer routines as a key part of this book, and print media just doesn't support it. However, the selected photos were right on for each of the topics being covered in text and the dozens of different photo credits at the end belie this kind of effort. It's more obvious when a production team doesn't put this kind of effort into finding just the right photo, so it was nice to be able to identify the effort here.
Because this is a Lerner imprint, it's got the support of their strong web resources, which is great. I think more publishers should be figuring out ways to get readers moving between their book and their online resources. I would suggest some way of integrating a book and an ipod/ipad or smartphone, but i haven't seen much of this (maybe editors don't believe young folks have access to their parents' phones, or have their own?) If Pearl brought home a book with a QR code or some other scannable feature, I would use it.
Finally, a word on the index. Just because Lerner is one of the standards for info text I have to weigh in on this, because it has become an epidemic across all publishers. I know the index is an important text feature to teach kids about, but I absolutely disagree that it is necessary in all informational texts. In most picturebooks the index is a ridiculous atavistic appendage--especially when there's already a table of contents! Responsible scholars such as Kathleen Isaacs insist that ALL informational books should have an index. But it serves a locating function at a micro-detail level, and if the nature of a book's design does not require this kind of location then it is NOT necessary. And if the text is so basic that there is no way to separate micro details from the rest of the structure, then why index it? This is also true for most glossaries. Inline definitions and pronunciation guides are probably more effective, but in a picturebook an unfamiliar vocabulary word should be given help from the illustrations, too! This is a clear example of state content standards creating arbitrary, reified forms that don't follow function.