Carter, Ally. Cross my Heart and Hope To Spy. Why are these so good? The first book, I'd tell you I love you, but then I'd have to kill you has circulated tremendously well-- all I had to do was stand in the front of the cafeteria with the new book and there were four girls fighting over the copy! The blend of spy techniques (everything from countersurveillance to gadgets to martial arts), private school life, and boys is truly irresistable. Do any high school girls really trust boys? And if you are in training to be a spy, do you trust anyone? Having the boys from the Blackthorne Academy show up at Gallagher was inspired. Quite the fun read. I am eagerly awaiting lots more!
Deuker, Carl. Gym Candy. A brilliant, brilliant sports book, dealing with steroid abuse in a realistic but utterly wrenching way. Mick's father was a bigtime high school football start who didn't amount to much later, so he has transfered his passion to Mick. When Mick gets picked for the high school varsity team as a freshman, the pressure to excel becomes intense, and he turns to steroids after extremely hard work doesn't produce the results he wants. Told in a realistic way (Mick doesn't want to do steroids, but the descent into them is shockingly logical), with a surprising ending and ultimate salvation, I am so glad I ordered two copies. Another great book from a true master of sports fiction.
Springer, Nancy. Dusssie. Boys are not going to be thrilled with the first two pages, which state very briefly that Dusie has 1) gotten her period and 2) her hair has turned to snakes. If I can get them past that (and they may not pay much attention, really), they will enjoy this story about the daughter of a gorgon who has to deal with what puberty has wrought-- a head full of snakes. None poisonous, however. After accidentally turning a boy to stone, she has to come to terms with how to best get through the days with a head that hisses and writhes. Some of this it a little contrived, including the ending, but I really liked it. Fans of The Lightning Thief and other mythology books will find this amusing. Spring has a varied body of works, and all of them are good!
How could I not order How Underwear Got Under There: A Brief history by Kathy Shaskan? While only 47 pages long, it was extremely informative. I am not sure 8th graders will check it out to use for their nonfiction oral reports, but it is a well done survey of what people have worn under their clothes. I learned many, many things (my grandmother, for example, graduated from high school before the widespread adoption of the bra!), and it was told in a straight forward but amusing way. I will have to look for other similar books by this author.