Six Degrees of Separation: From Beezus and Ramona to Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea

It’s May Day! Beltane, if you will. I wish I’d been clever enough to do a folk horror Six Degrees of Separation this month. Kate, who hosts the meme at Books Are My Favourite and Best, has chosen a children’s classic, Beezus and Ramona, for the first book in the chain. Read on to see how I end up in a submarine with Captain Nemo.

Beezus and Ramona by Beverly Cleary is a book I’m not familiar with. It didn’t cross my path as a child. Reading up on it, I find it’s about two sisters. This reminded me of a book I loved a lot as a child.

Sarah’s Room is by Doris Orgel, illustrated by Maurice Sendak. It tells the story of Jenny who once played in big sister Sarah’s bedroom and made a terrible mess, and ends up locked out of Sarah’s room. I loved the book because I wasn’t allowed to play in my big sister’s bedroom, either, but would sneak in. My sneaking was facilitated by my sister being 11 years older than me and consequently out and about with her mates quite a lot. Jenny dreams that she’s grown tall enough to reach the key in the door to Sarah’s room, and in the morning finds she really is tall enough to unlock the door. She plays nicely, making her mum and sister realise she’s grown up in other ways.

Another favourite book of mine as a child was written and illustrated by Maurice Sendak.

Pierre: A Cautionary Tale in Five Chapters and a Prologue tells of the titular Pierre, a horror of a child who loudly proclaims, “I don’t care” to whatever his parents say to him. The cautionary bit comes during a trip to the zoo, when Pierre’s attitude problem meets a lion.

The zoo is the link to my next book.

In Gin Phillips’s Fierce Kingdom, we meet Lincoln, a less obstreperous child than Pierre. Lincoln visits a zoo with his mum and they experience a different kind of terror to the lion that Pierre comes face to face with. The setting of the novel in an enclosed space with different zones made me think of a Japanese tv show I watched recently, which is based on a manga.

Alice in Borderland (Imawa no Kuni no Arisu / 今際の国のアリス) is about a trio of Japanese high school students whose boredom leads to them being transported to a parallel post-apocalyptic world in which they must solve a series of puzzles in order to survive. I haven’t read the manga because my Japanese isn’t good enough and so far it has only been translated into French, but I enjoyed the tv adaptation.

My next choice is linked by a name.

Alice is the codeword Doug gives to his daughter Ana in Alena Graedon’s The Word Exchange. This book is a puzzle in its own right, as Ana has to unpick the mystery around her father’s disappearance and its connection to the proliferation of embedded technology that is replacing language.

The next generation technology that causes all the problems in The Word Exchange is known as Nautilus, which takes me to my final book in this month’s chain.

Nautilus is the name of Captain Nemo’s submarine in Jules Verne’s Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea. The book is about an expedition to track down a mysterious sea creature, which turns out to be Nemo’s submarine, an electrically powered marine exploration vessel so secret that the expedition crew aren’t allowed to leave once they go on board. It’s a book I read in a pocket abridged version that I bought with pocket money from Asda when I was about ten years old, and I loved it.

I’ve travelled between childhood favourites via bedrooms, zoos and dystopias, alongside toddlers, teens and young adults, ending up in a mysterious submarine. There’s a loose link along a line of how we behave towards others and where that might mean we end up.

Where will your chain take you? Why not head over to Kate’s blog to discover other readers’ chains?

12 thoughts on “Six Degrees of Separation: From Beezus and Ramona to Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea

    1. Thanks, Davida! Bizarrely, I didn’t read Where the Wild Things Are until I was an adult, reading with my nephews. Pierre is very funny. I remember feeling a deep sympathy with the lion.

      The other books that I know he illustrated are the Little Bear books, but I just had a look at his Wikipedia entry and discovered he was a prolific illustrator for other writers before he started writing his own books.

      I still have my copy of Sarah’s Room. It’s a book that I really identified with!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. That Beltane celebration looks excellent, even if a bit cold and wet.

      The Sendaks are well worth tracking down.

      Knowing you’re not a Sci-fi lover, there are three in the chain you can swerve, Margaret!

      Fierce Kingdom is definitely worth a read, though.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. This was an interesting set of links! First, Sarah’s Room has such a cute cover. I can imagine the little sister sneaking! HAHAHA.

    What did you think of the Alice in Borderland adaptation? I haven’t seen it yet but it sounds really interesting!


    1. Sarah’s Room is such a good book. Every page is cute. Jenny is most definitely a curious girl and an explorer of possibilities.

      I really enjoyed the Alice in Borderland adaptation. It has a few touch points – Battle Royale, Lost, Hunger Games – but I liked the premise of gaming being a life skill and I enjoyed the characters, particularly Usagi.


  2. I feel that I should know Sarah’s Room and Pierre but both are new to me. I love Sendak! The later books are almost certainly not for me although one day I must get around to the Verne. Such clever links, Jan!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Sandra. I’m really surprised that Sarah’s Room and Pierre aren’t better known. Pierre is such a funny book, and Sarah’s Room is delightful.

      I really like Verne. I have his ‘lost’ novel on my To Read pile – he locked away in a safe after his publisher told him people would find it far fetched. It was rediscovered by his great grandson in 1989. It’s called Paris in the Twentieth Century, set in 1960, in a society that places value only on business and technology. I intend to get to it soon.

      Liked by 1 person

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