I've been a terrible follower recently and I apologize. But I really have been busy. My parents are moving. For the last few weeks, we've been sorting out and sifting through decades' worth of accumulated belongings (lesson: don't be a pack rat!). Looking through this stuff has been a real trip for me, having lived in that house from the time I was nine years old until I went off to college.
|Yes, this is really me, in fifth grade|
My baby shoes. Halloween costumes. Letters I wrote from college. My parents never threw away anything. Now they're downsizing, so it all has to go.
I realized there are quite a few middle grade novels in which the main character moves. I've already featured three of them on this blog. Today I'll include a fourth which I read a few months ago and never talked about.
1) Turtle in Paradise by Jennifer Holm (Random House, May 2010, ages 8 to 12). Won a Newbery Honor in January.
Moving doesn't bother eleven-year-old Turtle at all. It's 1935; times are tough and people do what they have to. Mama has a new job as a live-in housekeeper for a rich woman who can't abide children, so Turtle gets sent all the way from New Jersey to the Florida Keys to stay with an aunt she's never met.
In Key West, Turtle hangs out with her three rambunctious boy cousins and their friend, and follows them around as they run their babysitting service. The weather is always hot and sticky and no one wears shoes. There's never enough money. But somehow these kids manage to have plenty of fun. The novel is ripe with 1930s flavor, including door-to-door salesmen, get-rich-quick schemes, references to Little Orphan Annie and Shirley Temple. And there's even an exciting search for buried treasure!
The best thing about this colorful story is the voice. Turtle narrates and she's smart, tough, cynical, and observant. Chapter One is called "Rotten Kids." And that's how Turtle feels about her peers. Here's the opening line to chapter 14: "It's a fact: if a kid is being nice, he's probably up to no good." The aptly-named Turtle has spent her life building a shell around herself, but while living with her Florida relatives she begins to crawl out from under that shell. Moving may turn out to be the best thing that's happened to Turtle in a long time. This is based on a story from the author's own family and you can tell a lot of love went into creating the tale.
2) Moon Over Manifest by Clare Vanderpool (Delacorte Press, Oct 2010, for ages 9 to 12). Abilene moves to the Kansas town where her father grew up and gradually learns some secrets about the townspeople. Here's my review from last September.
3) No Passengers Beyond This Point by Gennifer Choldenko (Dial Books for Young Readers, Feb 2011, ages 9 to 12). Finn and his two sisters have to move to Colorado to stay with Uncle Red. But the plane lands in an altogether different world! I raved about this last December.
4) You'll Like It Here (Everybody Does) by Ruth White (Delacorte Press, coming June 14, 2011, for ages 9 to 12). Meggie and her family have to move incredibly far away! I talked about this just last week.
What middle grade novels about moving have I missed? And which one is your favorite?
Marvelous Middle Grade Monday is the brainchild of Shannon Whitney Messenger. Go see what she's up to today.
Other regular MMGM blogs you'll enjoy:
UPDATE: More MMGM blogs you should read: