Saturday, July 23, 2005

Quick post because I have been bad and not blogged for ten days. And I know you've just all been on tenterhooks, waiting for my next words of wisdom. Right? Right?? (Say yes.)

Book:The View From Saturday
Author: E.L. Konigsburg
Published: 1998, winner of the '98 Newbery

Take four extraordinary kids--Noah (fact: loves facts), Nadia (proud owner of a genius dog), Ethan (winner of the all-county Quietest Kid Competition), and Julian (sweet, perceptive, and of course picked-upon), and put them together with their brand-new teacher, the wheelchair-bound Mrs. Olinski. What do you get? A) The Souls, b) the first sixth-graders to compete in state Quiz Bowl c) a group of really good friends, d) all of the above.

I do hope you picked D.

E.L. Konigsberg has a certain dreamy, quirky style that not every kid will take to. If you recognize the name, she's the one who wrote From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler (also a Newbery winner). What I love about her is that she's not afraid to weave in complex ideas and unusual characters. The way the novel is structured is also unexpected. Using the state Quiz Bowl finals as a framework, she takes the time to tell the intimate story of each one of the kids, and also Mrs. Olinski. How did they get where they are today? How did they become friends? Why the heck did Mrs. Olinski pick them? What exactly is the meaning of kindness and meanness, and what is their effect? You'll have to read and find out.

Like another favorite author of mine, Margaret Mahy, this book feels as if it should be pointless, but somehow isn't. It's not a sure-fire favorite for every kid, but try it and see. You might be surprised. Mrs. Olinski was.

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