The seventh graders are winning.
I read one of the baker's dozen for $1.00 paperbacks from one of the local libraries for myself,
#64 Lie Down with Lions by Ken Follett, who I first fell for with Eye of the Needle and still find a good read. This one chronicles the Russian attempt to crush Afghanistan. Good spy yard twined about a romance. He sure keeps things hopping, and his females are no cardboard cutouts nor frilly stay-at-homes. NO WAY will I pass this to seventh graders. I BLUSHED sitting alone reading one of his sex scenes. I never even imagined such goings-ons! (Not intregal to the story, if you don't want the details, but he doesn't go on for pages like a romance will.)
And for the kids, I've read #65 Man O'War by Walter Farley, a historically accurate fictional account of one of the most famous race horses ever. I grew up on the Black Stallion series, so it was nice to meet an old friend in a new guise.
#66 Do-Over by Rachel Vail, a zany boy's view of relationships and the "perfect" girl.
#67 Harvey, The Bear Can King by Jamie Gilson, a piece of fluff about collecting the most beer cans, with an appropriate moral about the meaning of friendship nicely worked in.
#68 UFO Kids by Allen Zullo, a real nothing of a set of short stories about supposedly true weird happenings that was so far off the mark in the well-written department that I wished the student had done herself a favor and read something of higher quality.
#69 The Burning Hills by Louis L'Amour, a rapid western read for those boys (or more rarely, girls) who like their dialect wrapped around a tough guy who can back up his plays with real fire power or fisticuffs.
#70 Long Shot Center by Kirk Marshall, a typical sports yard that will not disappoint if reading about the game is as good as playing it for you.
#71 Clueless: Cher Negotiates New York by Jennifer Baker, a humorous knock-off of a TV show, #72 Good-bye to Ol' Charlie by P. K. Petersen, another take on the old saw "Clothes Make The Man", a romance mix-up from the male protagonist's point of view.
#73 The Something-Special Horse by Lynn Hall, a decent simple little story for the horsey set, which this year's group abounds in.
#74 Pursuit by Michael French, a wild adventure story about a boy who makes it safely away from a maniacal friend after another child is killed en route, and not entirely accidentally, but more like culled for weakness, one of the stronger story lines, and NOT predictable.
#75 Hard Ball by Will Weaver, a better than average baseball story, again with the nearly obligatory "that's the true meaning of friendship/maturity/being true to oneself" values, well done, instead of trite.
#76 North to the Rails by Louis L'Amour, another quick-reading western that is typical of the genre.
#77 Haunted Summer by Hope Dahle Jordan, (Yikes! I'm slipping -- these are starting to blur... I don't have the book in front of me, so I guess I get an "F".) Was this the one where the dead sister is "in" the attic? The one where the old historical house with all kinds of treasures is opened as a haunted house, and the young heroine thwarts a plan to rip the place off, nearly getting herself bumped off at the same time? Or maybe the one where an evil good looking guy who just happens to be a ghost tries to kill a young girl?
#78 The Haunting by Joan Lowery Nixon, (Ditto the above)
#79 Born to Trot by Maruegrite Henry, another GRAND MASTER of the horse book puts out a big picture, big type early reader book that will hold up for slow readers who are a bit older...(My very first book was a companion to this one in size and style An Album of Horses. I couldn't read, yet, so I went through all the pages and underlined the one word I could read, "the". Pretty frustrating where there was all that great content available...)
#80 The Bet by Ann Reit, a "gotta get the boy" story that results from a know-it-all friend betting her she can get him because she doesn't want him. Of course, she "gets" him, but falls for him, while he's on to her and thinks it is all just a game with her. Better plot and twists than most, but some of the things these friends did to each other and those around them just drove me wild. Oozes self-doubt, angst...
#81 One Horse, One Hundred Miles, One Day by Sam Savitt, a marvelous history of endurance riding from the inside. Again, an author I knew as an artist as a child, who inspired a mural on my wall done in his style... I actually felt hurt when, long after I moved out, my parents painted over the wall. If I could have taken it with me, I would have.
#82 Princess Nevermore by Dian Curtis Regan. A light fantasy where "magic" has moved into an underground world, and the princess, whose life is unfolding in a very predictable manner, wonders what our earth is like. Due to a mishap, she gets to find out. She meets the good along with the bad, and ends up having to decide that she wants to return with all her heart before she can, or stay and give it all up forever for a quite ordinary, but filled with hassles and unknowns life among the folk on top. The evil here is in the form of an all too human character who is flawed in such a familiar way... A quick light read.