|Going Through the Gate|
|Janet S. Anderson|
|Dutton Childrens Books, 160 pages|
A review by Jennifer Goheen
Going Through the Gate by Janet S. Anderson is a story about five 6th graders who will soon graduate from Miss Clough's elementary school by "going through the gate". Becky is nice and tries to help people. Her father went through the gate twenty-five years ago, but he can't tell her about the strange thing that happened then. Penny is Becky's pretty friend. Mary Margaret is the oldest of a big family and always has to take care of her brothers and sisters. Eddy loves frogs and Tim is the new kid. They don't know what will happen when they go through the gate, but they suspect it may have something to do with the secret animal they've each been studying all year. When they finally go through the gate and one of them is in danger, will they be able to work together to save their classmate in time?
Although this is not a classic like The Chronicles of Narnia or A Wrinkle in Time, I recommend this book to people who like these and other fantasy books because it is suspenseful and strange in a realistic way. Readers aged eight to twelve who might want something a little different from popular horror series books like Goosebumps or Bonechillers will like this book.
Jennifer Goheen recently started middle school, where she plays clarinet in the band and is active in Girl Scouts. At any given time she is typically reading 5 or 6 different books, and her literary interests range from fantasy, horror and mystery to historical fiction and classic children's literature. She has a cat named Misty and is actively trying to convince her father to let her have a dog.
A review by Chris Goheen
The book opens by examining the thoughts of five 6th graders who are preparing to undergo a mysterious graduation ritual from their one-room elementary school. The students themselves are not fully aware of what the ceremony entails, but through their thoughts clues to what might be in store are revealed. We get a good sense of the emotions they feel while looking forward (with some trepidation) to the big event and gradually each character's personality emerges.
The mood early on is roughly reminiscent of Shirley Jackson's The Lottery, as we sense that just underneath the seemingly normal veneer of a small town something very strange is going on. As the details of the graduation ceremony and the unusual events of a similar graduation 25 years earlier are revealed, the focus shifts to what this passage from childhood into adolescence really means to each character. As a result of "going through the gate", the characters discover important truths about themselves, each other, and their mystical teacher, Miss Clough.
The prose is very direct and approachable for the target age group, but descriptive enough to hold the attention of older readers. While some of the foreshadowing and characterizations may not be subtle enough for adult tastes, this novel should go over well with younger readers who enjoy fantasy and suspense, and provide some insight as to what inner personality characteristics are really important.
Chris Goheen has a doctorate in chemical engineering and currently works in the field of on-line process optimization. After many years of playing College Bowl and other academic quiz games, he finally made it onto Jeopardy! and won a modest sum. An avid reader of science fiction and fantasy in his teen years, over the last decade his reading interests have leaned more towards mystery, 20th century world literature and works of non-fiction. He has recently developed an interest in children's and young adult literature and re-discovered fantasy while reading with his two children.
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