Tuesday, December 24, 2013

The View From Saturday

by E. L. Konigsburg

Grade: 3 1/2 stars
Story summary: Four Grade 6 children are making history by beating the Grade 7 and 8 groups in the Academic Bowl. This is the story of how four individual children become a best man, save baby turtles, buy heart-shaped puzzles, and invite the others for tea, and how they came together to form "The Souls".

Thoughts: I'm not surprised this won a Newberry Medal. The themes of the story were woven through beautifully, and the structure was unusual and intriguing.

In general, I love stories like this, where learning (especially academic learning) is a primary focus. I also love smart kids, academic contests, and unique adult mentors who help smart kids with academic contests. So this was definitely up my alley.

The treatment of race did seem slightly strange to me. Everybody was commenting on the Indian (from India) characters, and how they were different and strange. This was a fairly long time ago, and in the States (which can definitely be different than Canada in that regard), so perhaps it's accurate. I don't know, and I don't really feel qualified to comment, but it did stick out to me, so I thought I'd mention it.

But it was a very good book, filled with interesting observations like: "The fact was that Mrs. Olinski did not know how she had chosen her team, and the further fact was that she didn't know that she didn't know until she did know. Of course, that is true of most things: you do not know up to and including the very last second before you do." I'm looking forward to trying more books by E. L. Konigsburg.

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