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Sunday, February 5, 2012

The View from Saturday

As a middle school librarian, I take pride in the number of books I have read. Having just finished The View from Sunday, I will no longer have to hear the incredulous exclamation from others, “You haven’t read E.L. Konigsburg’s The View from Saturday?”. Now I see why others are so surprised that this clever novel was missing from my collection of have-read books. What appeals to me the most about Konigsburg’s books is the way she develops her characters…they stay with you long after the book has ended. The View from Saturday begins with Mrs. Olinski, the quiz bowl sponsor and sixth-grade teacher, reflecting on how she chose her quiz bowl team members. Injured in an accident, Mrs. Olinski is a paraplegic who teaches her class from her wheelchair. Her quiz bowl team has made it to the championship round, surprisingly beating out older middle school teams. The complex story then contains four reflective short stories that share each team member’s background; separated by quiz bowl activity and Mrs. Olinski’s own story. I love how Konigsburg slowly reveals her characters in this story. Quiz bowl members – Noah, Nadia, Ethan, and Julian – are linked in more ways than one despite having different personalities. Another treat is how each member is able to answer a quiz bowl question and the reader understands how he or she knows the answer. The story gives us affirmation that goodness triumphs and that friends give us what we need. Other books by this Newbery Medal winning author include From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, Silent to the Bone, The Outcasts of 19 Schuyler Place, and The Mysterious Edge of the Heroic World.

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