Thursday, May 19, 2011

The View from Saturday by E.L. Konigsburg

Book Jacket

Meet the Souls.  Noah, who quite by accident was best man at the wedding of Ethan's grandmother and Nadia's grandfather.  Nadia, a hybrid with a halo of red hair, a dog that's a genius, and a fondness for baby turtles.  Ethan, the silent second son of one of Ephiphany's oldest families, who discovers he likes halos.  Julian, the strangest person on the school bus, who starts everything by inviting the others to a tea party.

How did Mrs. Olinski, returning to teaching ten years after being paralyzed in an automobile accident, choose these four to be her sixth-grade Academic Bowl team?  And how did this unlikely foursome become even unlikelier champions, in far more than just the state middle school competition?  The View From Saturday is a rich and rewarding journey that answers these questions and raises many more.


Before I explain why I didn't like The View from Saturday (and sadly, I didn't), I should mention that I crashed through this book in a day with both the audiobook and the novel itself.  Not the best way to read a book, so maybe that influenced my opinion.

By all rights, I should love this book.  It's a story about outsiders who come together and do something great.  Race and handicap are discussed, and all kinds of sociological exploration is right up my alley.  The problem, I think, is that it is all dealt with so heavy-handedly.  The lessons are explicit, but the prose is just...weird.  I'm sorry.  But this?

"[Julian's] lips were slightly parted.  His eyelashes cast semicircles of shadow on his cheeks.

'What do you see, Mrs. Olinski?' Mr. Singh asked.

'I see angels have landed on his eyelids.'

'Yes,' he answered, pleased.  'Angels have.'"

What is that?!  I loved Konigsburg in The Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, so I don't know why everything about this book hit me the wrong way.  But I didn't enjoy it.

Oh man, and I just saw that it won the Newbery Award.  Maybe I really did miss something?  Whatever, I've still got to honestly give it

Two out of five afternoon teas.

Release Date:  September 1996
Reading Level:  Grade 3+
Where In Dunlap Public Library's Collection:  YPL KON

Don't believe me?  Check out these reviews of The View from Saturday:

Booking Mama
Second Childhood Reviews

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