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The book is "The year when stardust fell" by Raymond Jones. I read this in grade school as a YA trade paperback. All I can find now are hardcover copies ranging from 50 to 400+ dollars -- way too much for my blood. If anyone happens to know where I can find this in the $1 to $10 dollar range, could you let me know? Thanks.
1) It's not a must-read, but rather a want-to-read book. A short story idea I was toying with started to sound familiar, and eventually I remembered why that was so: I'd done a book report on it when I was about 10-years-old. I went looking for it to reread it and make sure I wasn't just reusing Jones' plot without realizing it.

2) I did look at the Brooklyn and NYC public libraries. The later has it as a reference-only copy stored off-site, and the BPL has it at its main branch -- history lends me to believe that it is either a reference or lost copy, but I was in there today and have put in a request for it, so we'll see if that comes to anything.

3) I don't want you to go out of your way to look for it, but if you happen to be browsing a used bookstore, please keep me in mind. :o)
The store's just up the street from my Dojo. I often go there to kill time before class if I happen to get there early. I never mind making a trip there. ;-) I'll check it out on Monday. :-D

Hopefully the request will come through if nothing else!