42 Miles


42 Miles. Tracie Vaughn Zimmer; Clarion Books, 2008

Grade Level: 3-5

ISBN 978-0-618-61867-5 & Cost: $15.99



Book jacket ©2008 by Elaine Clayton from 42 Miles by Tracie Zimmer/Claion Books, an imprint of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.




Joey, as she is called by her father, and Ellen, as she is called by her mother, is about to turn thirteen. Her parents have been divorced since she was in diapers but have always lived four blocks apart, until this year. She has managed living two separate lives – her city life with mom, and her farm life with dad, but she wants this to change. JoEllen tells her story in free-verse poetry of how she intertwined her two lives.




General Review: 

A nice quick read to which many children can relate. The author uses the poetry in such a way that the readers feel they are right there with JoEllen experiencing it all.


Themes: Friendship, School, Self-identity, Families, Divorce, City Life, Country Life


Author information: 



Discussion Questions: (Standard 3; Benchmark 3)

•  What character do you like most in this book? Why? How is this character like you or unlike you? In what ways are his experiences similar or different from yours?

•  How do you feel about the ending of the book? Why? How might you change the ending if you were the author? Why would you change it this way? How might this change in the plot alter the author's message?

•  Why do you think the author wrote this book? What was her purpose? Did she succeed? How? What is the main theme or idea overall? Do you agree with this message? Why or why not?



  1. Challenge students to write a free verse poem about an event in their life. Share poems with classmates.(Standard 6; Benchmark 1, Standard 5; Benchmark 2)
  2. Write the next chapter for this story. How is JoEllen doing? How are her parents and friends handling the mix of the two lives? (Standard 5; Benchmark 1)


Similar Books for Further Reading

A Friendship for Today by Pat McKissack

Stranded in Boringsville by Catherine Bateson