JAN BROGAN - Probably because I grew up in very urban New Jersey, I used to love young adult novels set in rural settings, where most of the activity centered around the 4-H Club.
There I was hitch-hiking to the bowling alley and hanging around parking lots with the tough gang in town, while these kids were trying to bake the blue ribbon chocolate cake, or raising a prized pig.
It was all so foreign, so appealing and so innocent.
Perhaps that's why I had such a strong reaction to a recent story in the Boston Globe about the grand champion goat from this year’s Colorado State Fair, who had much the same fate as former Red Sox star Manny Ramiriz. The grand champion and another goat raised by the same family were disqualified after testing positive for an unapproved feed additive.
But the story gets better, because the family claims that their goat feed was tampered with.
What's at stake? The college student who raised the champion won’t get the $5,500 for her State champion, and her younger brother won’t get $1,300 sale price of his goat. It also means both are barred from all future livestock events at the fair.
4-H Hall of Shame!
I don't know about you, but I'm seeing all sorts of YA mystery possibilities. The jealous rival who tampered with the feed. Or maybe a jealous boyfriend who doesn't like how all this champion goating is taking his former girlfriend the away from him to college.
Maybe there are helicopter parents in the wings, pushing the two kids to win at any cost. Or it could be the feed guy is trying to boost feed sales by producing a champion.
You get the picture. Nearly any kind of competition can mean cheating. And cheating means tension, who know, maybe someone kills the goat?
Plot lines, please?