December 5, 2020
#6Degrees of Separation: From Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret by Judy Blume to The War That Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley
*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.
Moving in Middle Grade!
#6Degrees of Separation: from Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret to The War That Saved My Life.
#6Degrees is a monthly link-up hosted by Kate at Books Are My Favourite and Best. I’ve seen this meme around for a while and Davida’s posts at The Chocolate Lady’s Book Review Blog inspired me to give it a try this year! Making connections between books is challenging, creative, and fun!
Each month a book is chosen as a starting point and linked to six other books to form a chain. A book doesn’t need to be connected to all the other books on the list, only to the one next to it in the chain. The rules are:
- Link the books together in any way you like.
- Provide a link in your post to the meme at Books Are My Favourite and Best.
- Share these rules in your post.
- Paste the link to your post in the comments on Kate’s post and/or the Linky Tool on that post.
- Invite your blog readers to join in and paste their links in the comments and/or the Linky Tool.
- Share your post on Twitter using the #6Degrees hash tag.
- Be nice! Visit and comment on other posts and/or retweet other #6Degrees posts.
This month’s prompt starts with Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret, and it is a Middle-Grade book I read a long, long time ago. I decided to reread for this post. For me, the reread doesn’t hold up. It’s dated, and I don’t think I would recommend it for young readers today (but that’s probably a post for another time).
One theme in the story is moving to a new home, so my chain is held together with a theme of moving.
Goodreads Summary: “Margaret Simon, almost twelve, likes long hair, tuna fish, the smell of rain, and things that are pink. She’s just moved from New York City to Farbook, New Jersey, and she is anxious to fit in with her new friends. When Nancy, Gretchen, and Jamie form a secret club to talk about private subjects like boys, bras, and getting their first periods, Margaret is happy to belong. But none of them can believe Margaret doesn’t have religion and that she isn’t going to the Y or the Jewish Community Center. What they don’t know is Margaret has her own very special relationship with God. She can talk to God about everything–family, friends, even Moose Freed, her secret crush. Margaret is funny and real, and her thoughts and feelings are oh-so-relatable–you’ll feel like she’s talking right to you, sharing her secrets with a friend. ”
First Degree. From the summary of Are You There God?, I notice a theme of moving. This reminds me of another Middle-Grade book, Inside Out and Back Again by Thannha Lai, in which the main character moves from Vietnam to America.
My Summary: “Told in free verse from the perspective of ten-year-old Ha and inspired by the author’s own experiences, this is a poignant and beautifully written story of a family’s escape from Vietnam before the fall of Saigon and move to America. This refugee and immigrant story can build feelings of compassion and lead to thoughtful reflection as Ha experiences grief, bullying, learning English, new foods and customs, kindness from a neighbor, finding her voice, family loyalty, and the comfort of old traditions. A perfect read for older elementary or middle-grade readers but, as with all good literature, enjoyable for adults too…a diverse read that builds understanding and empathy. ***I love this story!
Second Degree: Another Middle-Grade story involving moving is Lemons by Melissa Savage. Moving in this story is due to the loss of a mother.
My Summary: “Ten-year-old Lemonade Liberty Witt believes her mom about making lemonade when life gets difficult. However, Lemon faces circumstances that test her lemonade-making abilities. After the death of her mother, she is sent to live in another town with a grandfather she’s never met. Her life gets better when she makes a new friend, Tobin Sky, who is CEO of Bigfoot Detectives, Inc. Yes, there have been suspected Bigfoot sightings in this wooded Northern California community! Lemon becomes Tobin’s assistant, but they discover something more important than Bigfoot.“ My review of Lemons here.
Third Degree: The next Middle-Grade book to involve moving is Esperanza Rising by Pam Munoz Ryan. Esperanza and her family flee Mexico and move to the Central Valley of California.
Goodreads Summary: “Esperanza thought she’d always live with her family on their ranch in Mexico–she’d always have fancy dresses, a beautiful home, and servants. But a sudden tragedy forces Esperanza and Mama to flee to California during the Great Depression and settle in a camp for Mexican farmworkers. Esperanza isn’t ready for the hard labor, financial struggles, or lack of acceptance she now faces. When their new life is threatened, Esperanza must find a way to rise above her difficult circumstances–Mama’s life, and her own, depend on it.’
Fourth Degree: Connecting to the strong theme of moving is Bloomability by Sharon Creech. In this story, thirteen-year-old Deomenica moves to Switzerland to live with her aunt and uncle.
Goodreads Summary: “My second life began when I was kidnapped by two complete strangers…That the kidnappers are actually Aunt Sandy and Uncle Max makes no difference to thirteen-year-old Domenica Santolina Doone, better known as Dinnie–she just doesn’t want to go. Dinnie’s accustomed to change, with her family constantly moving for “opportunity’–but when her aunt and uncle whisk her far away to an international school in Switzerland, she’s not sure she’s ready to face this “opportunity” alone. All at once she finds herself in a foreign country surrounded by kids from different cultures speaking all sorts of languages and sharing various beliefs. Home and her first life seem so far away. But new friendships and the awesome beauty of Switzerland begin to unlock thoughts and dreams within her. Her joys and struggles make up a rich tapestry of experiences she can find nowhere else. Switzerland begins to be more than a temporary home–it becomes a part of Dinnie herself, the self she never knew she could be. Switzerland is the picturesque backdrop of this story about a young girl discovering the beauty of nature, her place in the world, the value of friendship–and that life is full of wonderful “bloomabilities.” (Newbery Medal Winner)
Fifth Degree: Continuing the theme of moving, the story in Wish by Barbara O’Connor is focused on a move that results in “found family.”
Goodreads Summary: “Eleven-year-old Charlie Reese has been making the same secret wish every day since fourth grade. She even has a list of all the ways there are to make the wish, such as cutting off the pointed end of a slice of pie and wishing on it as she takes the last bite. But when she is sent to the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina to live with family she barely knows, it seems unlikely that her wish will ever come true. That is until she meets Wishbone, a skinny stray dog who captures her heart, and Howard, a neighbor boy who proves surprising in lots of ways. Suddenly Charlie is in serious danger of discovering that what she thought she wanted may not be what she needs at all.
Sixth Degree: The final link in the chain is a slight departure from the first five contemporary Middle-Grade stories into World War 11. The War That Saved My Life (and the sequel The War I Finally Won) by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley is the story of a young girl who is sent from London to the English countryside during World War 11. As the title indicates, this move saves her life.
Goodreads Summary: “This is an exceptionally moving story of triumph against all odds set during World War 11. Ten-year-old Ada has never left her one-room apartment. Her mother is too humiliated by Ada’s twisted foot [club foot] to let her outside. So when her little brother Jamie is shipped out of London to escape the war, Ada doesn’t waste a minute–she sneaks out to join him. She begins a new adventure of living with Susan Smith, the woman who is forced to take the two kids in. As Ada teaches herself to ride a pony, learns to read, and watches for German spies, she begins to trust Susan–and Susan begins to love Ada and Jamie. But in the end, will their bond be enough to hold them together through wartime? Or will Ada and her brother fall back into the cruel hands of their mother? **Also, don’t miss the sequel The War I Finally Won. These two books are among my very favorite middle grade reads!
I hope you enjoyed this #6Degrees of Separation chain from Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret to The War That Saved My Life!
The most striking thread that connects the stories in this chain is MOVING. I have read all these books, and the last six in the chain I can highly recommend!
I need to note that these are the first six books I thought to connect. Many stories are out there that could also fit this chain. Can you think of another title in which a middle-grade child moves?
Next month (January 2, 2021), we’ll start with the winner of the 2020 Women’s Prize for Fiction, Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell. Join us?
February #6Degrees of Separation post here.
March #6Degrees of Separation post here.
April #6Degrees of Separation post here.
May #6Degrees of Separation post here.
(skipped a few months)
July #6Degrees of Separation post here.
If you have a December #6Degrees of Separation post, please leave a link in the comments!
Do you have ideas for creating your own chain?
What book would you add to this chain?
Have you read one of these stories?
Happy Reading Book Buddies!
“Ah, how good it is to be among people who are reading.”
~Rainer Maria Rilke
“I love the world of words, where life and literature connect.”
~Denise J Hughes
“Reading good books ruins you for enjoying bad ones.”
~Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
“I read because books are a form of transportation, of teaching, and of connection! Books take us to places we’ve never been, they teach us about our world, and they help us to understand human experience.”
~Madeleine Riley, Top Shelf Text
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Unless explicitly stated that they are free, all books that I review have been purchased by me or borrowed from the library.
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All MG books! I knew you could do it! Next month… HAMNET!
I eager to see what you do with Hamnet! I think I’m intimidated!
Lots of ways to go with that one. Shakespeare, loss of a child, the unknown wife behind the well known man, something set 400 years ago, or even another Irish author works. I’m already about half way through my next one!
I knew you would be!
So you too have gone down the young people’s books route, as I have . These are interesting choices, unknown to me, but as a Brit, I feel I should have heard of your last choice. I’ll look out for it!
It’s on my lifetime favs list! (The sequel is wonderful too!) I popped over to read your wonderful post! 🙌
It’ll go right to the top of the list then! Thanks.
This would be fun – I’ve never heard of this challenge before. A lot of my books could be grouped this way 😅
It’s fun to make a chain…I love it when books talk to each other! 👍
Beautifully done! Esperanza Rising was my daughter’s favorite “class” book [read in class] for elementary school. I like the way you’ve formed this chain–so thoughtful.
Thank you so much! I have a soft spot in my heart for MG!
What a lovely chain of MG books. We moved when I was 10 so I can see why this is a good theme to explore in a book
Thank you so much! I have vivid memories of moving in 6th grade!
Love your chain! Glad Davida inspired you to join us. I know most of these books but haven’t read them all yet. Except – The War That Saved My Life and its sequel are two of my favorites. I recently reviewed her new book which is on an important topic but not as awesome as the books about Ada: https://perfectretort.blogspot.com/2020/09/fighting-words-by-newbery-honor-author.html
There are a lot of good moving stories. Did you read Marilyn Sachs’ books growing up? Amy Moves In comes to mind and Anything for a Friend by Ellen Conford https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/548300.Amy_Moves_In?ac=1&from_search=true&qid=pmqAC885Q6&rank=2
I’m happy to hear we both loved The War series! 🙌 Wouldn’t it be lovely to have a third? Perhaps a YA book following Ada’s life!
I was eager to read Fighting Words too. It is thoughtful and well written but I’m wondering if I would have it on the shelf of my classroom library. It seems like it might need some trigger warnings for children?? Love your review!
Thanks for the additional recs Constance! Thank you for commenting!
I loved the War that Saved my Life! It was so well done
Did you read the sequel? I liked it even more!
I haven’t read it!
Must read The War That Saved My Life! So good! I wish there were a third one!
Awh i would still totally recommend Are you there god! Lots of books are dated but how many books gush about God and periods for middle graders. It kills me to see people today calling any books with religion dated these days, seems wrinkle in time and narnia are headed that way too 😭
It wasn’t necessarily the mention of religion…..although it was frustrating that there was no solution to her search and the Christian grandmother was painted in a bad light. It also seemed the author was supporting a view that parents shouldn’t provide religious education. Other smaller things bothered me. I think the book was groundbreaking back then! And I appreciate that! I loved her unique relationship with God!
I loved your post! But I don’t recognize any of your featured books. Except of course for Judy Blume. I want to have a look at a few of these.
Love how your chain linked up. I could follow it very easily.
I am terribly late for Six Degrees this month, but I guess rather late than never. Here it is!
Six Degrees – From Margaret to Anna
Thanks for your kind words and for leaving your link! I’ll hop over now and take a look!
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My grandmother read Are You There God to me as a kid and I remember really enjoying it.
Awww! Special memory! 💖 Love that!
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