by Judy Newman with Alexie Basil
As anyone who knows me knows, E. L. Konigsburg—Elaine to me—is one of my all-time favorite children’s book authors.
When we featured From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler on this blog, I wrote a long post about our shared histories and my complete admiration for her as a writer. (You can read that post here.)
When we decided to offer another of Elaine Konigsburg’s Newbery Medal–winning masterpieces, The View from Saturday, as the Scholastic Book Clubs Book of the Week, I didn’t want to do something Elaine would never have done: bore readers by being repetitive.
So instead of writing a superfluous fangirl piece here, I thought I would pull out some of E. L. Konigsburg’s own words from The View from Saturday to really whet your appetite for reading (or rereading) and sharing this book.
Noah is nitpicky when it comes to word choice. This is what he thinks when his mom asks him to write a “B & B letter”:
“She explained—not too patiently—that a B & B letter is a bread and butter letter you write to people to thank them for having you as their houseguest. I told her that I was taught never to use the word you are defining in its definition and that she ought to think of a substitute word for letter if she is defining it.” (Chapter 1)
This is Nadia talking about her super-anxious, just-divorced dad:
“For the first day and a half after I arrived, Dad hovered over me like the Goodyear blimp over the Orange Bowl. He did not enjoy the hovering, and I did not enjoy being hovered, but he did not know what to do with me, and I did not know what to tell him, except to tell him to stop hovering, which seemed to be the only thing he knew how to do.” (Chapter 2)
Here is Ethan talking about his older brother, Luke:
“Luke is six years older than I. He is in college now, but that has not put an end to his reputation. He has become a myth like Paul Bunyan or Davy Crockett. Because my name is Potter but not Lucas, I have been a disappointment to every one of my teachers during my previous six years—kindergarten counts.” (Chapter 3)
This is Julian retelling a story about a plot to ruin Epiphany’s school play, Annie, with poisoned dog treats:
“It took no great leap of intelligence to realize that Hamilton Knapp had laced Ginger’s dog treats with tranquilizers and laxatives so that she would do one, possibly two, embarrassing things on stage. He gave Nadia the drugged treats and told her that they were a gift from Dr. Knapp, who was Ginger’s veterinarian. I could easily picture Hamilton Knapp telling Nadia that Dr. Knapp wanted Ginger to have these special treats for her performance. Nadia was so crazy about Ginger that she would believe that anyone who met her wanted to give her gifts.” (Chapter 4)
This is how Mrs. Olinski, a sixth grade teacher, explains her medical condition to her students:
“Mrs. Olinski had thought about what she would say to this, her first sixth grade class in ten years. She wrote it all down, revised, memorized, and rehearsed until she could deliver her lines with a light touch. Her voice held steady, but her hands did not, and the O of Olinski was the rough shape of an oil spill.” (Chapter 3)
And how Julian Singh’s father thinks about the kindness—and the malice—he and his son found on their journey to Epiphany, New York:
“Julian knows—perhaps even more than the others—about kindness. We have, my son and I, been most fortunate. We have found much kindness when we journeyed on the ship. When sixth grade started, my son found malice. Spite and malice. Mean things were done to him. Julian has told me many stories. Many stories.” (Chapter 11)
At the core of The View from Saturday is the question: Did Mrs. Olinski choose the four students to make up The Souls? Or did they choose her?
“She waited until they were all in their usual places, and then she asked, ‘Did I choose you, or did you choose me?’
“And The Souls answered, ‘Yes!’” (Chapter 12)
Like everything E. L. Konigsburg has written, The View from Saturday is thought-provoking and page-turning! This novel weaves together into an unforgettable story the perspectives of four kids—Noah, Nadia, Ethan, and Julian—as they compete in the New York State Academic Bowl challenge into an unforgettable story.
“Admirable acts, challenging ideas, and grace notes positively festoon this superb tale of four sixth graders and a paraplegic teacher forming a junior high Academic Bowl team that sweeps away the competition.” —Kirkus Reviews, starred review
David Vozar and I connect with The View from Saturday in our own ways. David was “struck by the poise of The Souls as they answered question after question.” And how their poise contrasted with his own anxious feelings the night before a big test.
“I was reminded of the anxious feeling I would have the night before the day of a big test. No matter how much I studied, I could never shake that nervous feeling in my stomach as the test papers were passed out.
“There were some good things I remember, though, that I did enjoy.”
We put together some great resources on the blog this week to help you share The View from Saturday with your students. You can:
• “Spill the tea” with the Book Boys and discover their favorite parts of the story
• Download a free one-pager activity that’s an alternative to book reports, created by Scholastic Book Clubs 2018–2019 Teacher Advisor Amy Soupiset, in Cooked Up from a Book
• Learn how The View from Saturday teaches kids lessons of kindness in Pamela Lynch’s Book Talk
• Get to know E. L. Konigsburg in Behind the Scenes
I hope you and your students enjoy The View from Saturday and that it inspires you to think about what great things each of us brings to the table. And, as always, if you have any stories, comments, or questions you’d like to share, please email me directly at JNBlog@scholastic.com.
This Book Is Available from Scholastic Book Clubs