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Stepping on the Cracks (Gordy Smith #1)

4.06  ·  Rating Details  ·  2,678 Ratings  ·  230 Reviews
"Step on a crack, break Hitler's back!" Elizabeth yells, jumping hard on the sidewalk. Her best friend Margaret follows suit.
Margaret's mother is watching the two girls from the porch. "When I was your age, we said 'Step on a crack, break your mother's back.' We tried hard not to step on the cracks."
"That was before Hitler," Elizabeth says. "The world was different then."

Hardcover, 224 pages
Published October 28th 1991 by Clarion Books (first published 1991)
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Mar 04, 2011 Katharine rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book so much in 4th grade, that I volunteered to "adopt" its library shelf during recess on Tuesdays and Thursdays. I kept the "H" shelf straight and in order so that this book would be safe and well cared for. I have no idea how many times I read it, I'm sure it was alot...
Aileen Antillon
Dec 04, 2014 Aileen Antillon rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Would you like your brother to be in Hitlers war? yea.......mhmmm I wouldn't because he would be in a risk. He could die,a war is very dangerous to be in you don't know what might happen.The genre of this book is historical fiction you could say because i dont think anyone could be in Hitlers war because hes not alive anymore, maybe in the past when he was alive but trust me no one can be in Hitlers war. My opinion in this book is that i really really liked it because it had lots of action in it ...more
Hahn is writing here about a time she remembers...war years on the home front. Storybook Dolls, nasty brown oxford shoes (I had a pair 10 years later -- hated them!!). A child's flawed understanding of war and its consequences. This is her most reflective book, and her most thoughtful.

Often there are nasty kids, ghosts who cannot rest. Often there is redemption and growth and insights.

Here, there's only kids trying to live their lives when the adults in their lives are so preoccupied by WWII. M
Ema Janeska
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Julie Lobb
May 27, 2012 Julie Lobb rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I love reading historical fiction books about World War II. This one is interesting because it is set in the United States during the war. This book is different than Mary Downing Hahn's other books. No scary ghosts! But the characters are likeable, even the school bully who has a secret.
May 26, 2014 Jenna rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Best historical fiction book I've ever read. The amazing plot line makes you want to read it all night long
Peony Minassian
Jun 03, 2012 Peony Minassian rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The reason why I chose the book Stepping on the Cracks was because I never read historical fiction before, and reading a book that involved World War II seemed very fascinating. The book is about a girl named Margaret, and her friend Elizabeth. Both of their brothers are batting the war because of Hitler, and while their overseas at war, Margaret and Elizabeth have their own war at home with the biggest bully, Gordy. My favorite quote from the story would be "Together we walked the rest of the w ...more
Brent Haremza
Oct 14, 2015 Brent Haremza rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This books was amazing! I read this book back in 8th grade and loved it. I just recently got the chance to recall this book for a college class i'm in and tell them about it. I just wish Mary Downing Hahn would write the sequel to this. Thank you so much for writing this book.
This book brought back a lot of childhood memories for me. The girls in this story would sing, "Step on a crack, and break Hitler's back." We used to sing, Step on a crack, and break your mother's back, and then we would try very hard not to step on a crack. We would sing, Whistle while you work, Hitler is a jerk, etc.

I related to the fear of having someone in the military. My older brother was in the Navy during the Korean conflict, starting in 1950. In this story we hear about loved ones figh
Demi Purdy
This book, written by one of my favorite authors, is a historical fiction book taking place in the later years of World War II. Set in 1944, this book tells the story of Margaret, whose brother, Jimmy, is out fighting in the war. Her friend, Elizabeth, has a brother who is fighting as well, but they aren't scared for them as they believe that they well come home safely. But they have their own problems: the school bully, Gordy, who refuses to leave them alone. However, the girls later stumble up ...more
Sara Andrews
Dec 01, 2014 Sara Andrews rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
World War II is in full force. While Elizabeth and Margret are at home in a small town, College Hill, their brothers are off at war. The underlying mood of the entire story is how people are trying to get by and interact in everyday life while their loved ones are oversea.

I like how this book is written from the perspective of everyday life here in the United States during WWII. Even though the girls’ brothers are fighting in a real war, they too are fighting their own against the town bully,
Karen Lester
Nov 04, 2014 Karen Lester rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jessica Mcmahon
Jun 06, 2014 Jessica Mcmahon rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Some people are mean for a reason, don't judge them so quickly. This was a lesson Margret didn't know she would learn. She and her best friend, the daring Elizabeth, live in 1944, both of their older brothers were drafted to serve in World War II. Along with the hard times, they also have to live near the a horrible neighborhood bully named Gordy. He's rude, sexist, and won't hesitate to hurt someone. At first, it seems average- Margret and Elizabeth wanted to get revenge on Gordy. (Elizabeth wa ...more
May 21, 2016 Dawn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I want to be very clear that I feel this book is inappropriate for a younger child without adult guidance. I would suggest pre-reading. That being said this book has not shied away from a lot of important issues that are often skirted around in children’s books.
It took me a long time to decide I liked this book. Margaret is a pushover. She is afraid of everything. Her bully of a best friend pressures her into doing whatever she wants. They are disobedient too. Their brothers are overseas figh
This was one of my all-time favorite books to read with my fifth graders in our study of WWII. This book follows the female protagonist, Margaret
close, whose brother is fighting in the war overseas. She gets letters from him often, but when the fighting heats up in Belgium, where he's stationed, then the frequency of the letters quickly diminishes. The family is worried about his fate. Meanwhile, Margaret and her best friend, Elizabeth, have to put up with constant bullying from their classmate,
Elly Berge
Dec 14, 2011 Elly Berge rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book was a good new view on World War II. Connecting the families overseas and the fighting of wars in and around towns, even if it was the School Bully. Mary Downing Hahn writing style creates a different view on society in this time. The view of two girls that are not really included in the war, but they are affected by it. This book was a good mix of strong english and historical concepts. It was very intriguing and will get a readers emotions running.
Bree Ervin
I read this book slowly over a month, it kept getting interrupted by other books.
I don't think that was the fault of this book however - just one of those times in life.
I've been a Mary Downing Hahn fan since I was a kid, and my daughters both love her books now.
This one is great in many ways, it touches on a lot of really important issues that kids are facing as well as reminding us of a time in our history when we often look outward at what was happening in the world and forget to look at wha
Jun 14, 2010 Marion rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I had to read this in fourth grade. It was me and a bunch of girls and all we did when we read it was giggle and cry, we all bonded. It was so sad once the book was over because our little group was over. I remember it very fondly and would definitely recommend it.
Gordy Lindsay
Jun 02, 2016 Gordy Lindsay rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is about two young girls named Elizabeth and Margaret, in which this takes place in the 1940's while their brothers are fighting in WWII. Little did they know that the town bully, Gordy, has a brother who deserted from the military and is hiding out in the nearby woods where they live. When the two girls found out about this, they wanted to use this as leverage against Gordy. But they later decided to help the deserted soldier as much as they could with keeping a secret because he is v ...more
May 27, 2016 Relyn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: middle school readers
Recommended to Relyn by: Nancy Pearl, I think...
Shelves: audiobooks
Relyn Rating 4.5 stars

This book was less about WWII than I thought it would be. In fact, it was a much heavier book than I was expecting. Stepping on Cracks was about family and friendship and the true measure of compassion. Hahn dealt with difficult issues like patriotism and child abuse with a questioning compassion that did not offer pat answers. Instead, she wrote believable characters who find themselves dealing with issues that prompt the reader to think and search and find their own answe
H.R.H. Carpathia
Jul 30, 2015 H.R.H. Carpathia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed this book. Even if you do not like Historical fiction you will enjoy this book. While the war goes on life does not stand still. Magie is an 11 year old who enjoys stepping on cracks to break Hitlers back along with her best friend Elizabeth, both of who's brother are off fighting the ar in Europe. The girls are both bullied by a boy named Gordy and they hate him almost as much as Hitler. But when they discover his seceret things begin to change including Magie's take on the war. You w ...more
Jun 07, 2015 Leslie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Wow! A very realistic historical fiction. Small American town in the 1940s during WWII. Brothers and sons are off to war. 6th graders Elizabeth and Margaret are neighbors and best friends who both have stars hanging in their windows while their brothers are away. They also have the town bully to deal with...and boy is he mean, but he is also hiding a couple secrets.

ALERT...This next part has spoilers.....

I was a little concerned for young readers about the part near the beginning where the youn
Ashley Lahr
By the title of this book, it was definitely not what I thought it was going to be about from reading her other books. Margaret and Elizabeth, main characters in the book, both have brothers fighting in the war against Hitler. Through the story there is not only a war going on away from home but also one at home for the girls as they are dealing with a mean bully. As the school years go on the girls come up with a plan to get back and the bullies. At the beginning of the book there is a map of t ...more
Aiden Gamache
Jan 26, 2016 Aiden Gamache rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The book I read was called Stepping on the Cracks by Mary Downing Hahn. This book takes place at College Hill (now named College Park) from 1944 to 1945. The story was told from Margaret's perspective (the main character) and is about how she and her friend Elizabeth have to deal with bullies, the relentless war with the Nazi's and the Japanese, and her brother who had been drafted. If you liked this book you might want to read the book called Unbroken. If you like to read stories from way back ...more
Jennifer Miller
This is the book that I am currently using for a class read aloud. It plays on the old phrase "step on a crack and break your mother's back" except replace "mother" with "Hitler." The story is set in Maryland during WWII. The female characters both have brothers that are away at war. They discover that the bully in their town, Gordy, is aiding a deserter. The book will definitely help students understand what families go through when someone is away at war. I enjoyed reading it but would have wa ...more
Apr 23, 2010 Meghan rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I hate this book!
May 29, 2016 Daniel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a book about WWII, and it does bring up some interesting questions about war in general, while capturing the spirits of kids in that time. When Margaret's brother gets drafted, she knows that he is going to be a hero, but as she follows a classmate into the woods, she finds out a secret that might make her question the war. This book did bring up some questions that I enjoy thinking about, such as what war really is. It is kind of a philisophical dilemma, but this solid book helps explo ...more
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Apr 22, 2015 Myles rated it it was amazing
Shelves: kids-stuff, historish, dcf
I missed out on this one growing up. I read a lot of Mary Downing Hahn back then, but I was (and still am in some ways) guilty of pidgeon-holing. Hahn was a writer of the supernatural, of mysteries. Like Zilpha Keatley Snyder or John Bellairs I wasn't interested in reading their work if it wasn't immediately offering what I liked.

But kids don't always know what's good for them. Sometimes they can't leave the table until they've eaten they're broccoli (this is hypothetical, I've always known that
Dec 14, 2010 bfeliciano rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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USA Geography Cha...: Stepping on the Cracks by Mary Downing Hahn 1 1 Dec 29, 2014 01:23AM  
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I grew up in a small shingled house down at the end of Guilford Road in College Park, Maryland. Our block was loaded with kids my age. We spent hours outdoors playing "Kick the Can" and "Mother, May I" as well as cowboy and outlaw games that usually ended in quarrels about who shot whom. In the summer, we went on day long expeditions into forbidden territory -- the woods on the other side of the t ...more
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Gordy Smith (3 books)
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