6:05-6:40: Lerangis. The Sword Thief. Book three in the 39 Clues series is every bit as action packed and fun as the other two. In this installment, Dan and Amy Cahill face off against the Kabra's and find an unlikely ally in Alistair Oh. The clues take them to Japan, where they find themselves both further imperilled but closer to more clues. I'm impressed at how the three authors (Riordan and Korman as well) have kept the consistency of writing and characterization so even. There's not a lot of character development; more on that later.
6:41-7:45: Harrison. The Pretty Committe Strikes Back. (Book 5, The Clique) Miss Reulctant Reader lurves these, so I've been catching up with her on them, but they are not pleasant books to read. Between the name dropping of make up and clothing that I don't understand, the unlikely situations the girls find themselves in (survival training in the Adirondacks with so few of them?), and the pure meanness of it all sets my teeth on edge. In this one, Massie opens a clinic to teach the "losers" how to kiss boys, even though she hasn't kissed any herself. I'm trying to get the appeal but failing utterly. There are about ten books out now, not counting the summer supplements.
7:46-9:25: Carroll. The Gathering. Book Two of The Quantum Prophecy. I don't think I believe Mr. Carroll that he doesn't run around blowing things up. This is quite action packed. Colin and Renata are unmasked as superhumans, and when Dioxin starts a vengeful killing spree to flush them out of hiding, their families as well as new superhumans band together. It's tough for the kids (including Danny, who is struggling with the loss of his arm and his super powers) to tell who is good and bad, and all sorts of secrets emerge, as well as some powers. Have come to the conclusion that action books frequently don't have as much character development as other genres, and that boys don't particularly care about this. This also would explain why I don't like Horowitz's Snakehead as well as his other books-- I wanted to know more about Alex's motivation. The only reason I was able to read this book was that all books had to be turned in for the end of the year-- I got a copy in September and it has never been in long enough for me to read it. Great stuff.
9:26-10:05: Weissman. Standing for Socks. Attractive cover, interesting premise: Fara gains some notoriety by always wearing two different socks, but finds that the very thing that brings her attention also impedes her ability to run for student government and make a difference at her school. There was something about this that was oddly distant; at the beginning time is broadly covered, and the tone is disassociated. There is way more discussion of socks than I have ever read in any teen books, and this starts to strain credulity. I didn't like Fara all that much, although since I always wear two different earrings, I feel her pain: after a while, she feels locked into having to wear different socks, so that it becomes no more original than wearing matching ones. It will circulate well; the girls will find the search for personal identity more interesting than I did.
10:06-11:15: Swanson. Chasing Lincoln's Killer. Absolutely top notch history, told in an appealing narrative style and beautifully illustrated with period photographs, newspaper clippings, and other documents. Minutely details the events leading up to and following Booth's assassination of Lincoln. I learned all sorts of minutiae that I'd never realized (Secretary of State Seward also had an attempt made on his life by coconspirators). This will have a broad appeal for boys who like to read about the Civil War, and I'm a bit sad that I won't be able to check it out to some of the eighth graders who are leaving.
Titles for tomorrow's reading include My Vicksburg, The Mostly True Adventures of Homer P. Figg, The Rock and the River, Because I Am Furniture, Dull Boy and The Model President.