Going Through the Gate by Janet S. Anderson
Sixth-grade graduation is not just about the punch and cookies in Janet Anderson’s Going Through the Gate. In an incredibly small town with a one-room schoolhouse, only a handful of students graduate every June. They know their lives will change completely—but not for the reasons you’d think. Sure, they’ll be taking the bus to the big city middle school and join a grade with hundreds of kids in it instead of just five. There’s more to it than that though. The graduation itself can be dangerous.
Graduation means going through the gate. It’s understood that after you do that, you are never the same. Old Miss Clough is their teacher, and she has overseen many, many class graduations. There are two things she insists on before she will graduate her students. They each must study in-depth some local animal, and they must develop personal senses of time. Why this is, they do not know, and no one who is older will share the secret.
In this year’s class, Becky is bright and cheerful. Penny is pretty and a bit vain. Tim is the handsome, bad-boy loner. Eddy is bookish and shy. And red-haired Mary Margaret? Well, she seems to be just about perfect, always looking after other people and never thinking of herself. Each one will go through the gate, and each one will change forever.
Going Through the Gate is both an exciting adventure and a quietly simple yet moving story about growing up and everyone’s connection to the natural world.