King Cheer

Disney-Hyperion. (­Arden High: Bk. 2). Feb. 2024. 160p. Tr $24.99. ISBN 9781368064637; pap. $14.99. ISBN 9781368081115.
Gr 7 Up–In the second book of the “Arden High” series, King Lear offers Booth and Strohm the perfect narrative framework. Leah, the cheer squad captain of Arden High, is stepping down to focus on her senior year and has the hefty burden of appointing her replacement. Similarly, basketball team captain Gladys is worried her team will lose momentum if they forfeit practice time to the cheer squad. TwinsGabe and Rae fill Leah’s cheer captain spot and, not surprisingly, turn out to be irresponsible bullies who care more about winning cheer competitions and stealing gym time from the basketball team than promoting inclusion and teamwork on their squad. Leah is having an existential crisis about her murky future while she watches her cheer team fall apart, and Gladys is tipped that her own sister is trying to take her captain spot. All manner of high school drama is going on while the Lear plot plays out, including romantic breakups, blended-family politics, Valentine’s Day, and college application woes. Readers of the first installment will enjoy the same quirky characters depicted in illustrations by Green, who gets the cheerleading motif just right, along with a realistic portrayal of contemporary high school students who happen to attend class with fairies. LGBTQIA+ representation is ubiquitous in the story.
VERDICT This graphic novel will fit nicely into the collection that already has graphic novels with LGBTQIA+ characters and where the previous volume is popular.

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