Wednesday, February 1, 2012

The View from Saturday

I am still on a Newbery Medal kick. I can't stop reading Newbery Medal books now that I've started. But I'm certainly not wasting my time! These are the books that hook you in the beginning, waltz you through the middle, and inspire you in the end. This month I read The View from Saturday by E.L. Konigsburg. This book was published in 1996 and won the Newbery Medal in 1997.

The story is about four 6th graders and a teacher. The story begins and ends at almost the same moment in time and each character takes a turn telling a part of the story from his/her point of view. The delivery of this story sets it apart from any other book I've read. The story takes its readers into the past for answers and allows them to live in the present at the same time. It's complicated and absolutely wonderful.

First we meet Mrs. Olinski, the teacher. She has chosen four of her 6th grade students to compete in the New York State Academic Bowl. Not only have they beat the 7th and 8th grade teams at their school, they have beat all but one of the 7th and 8th grade teams in the state and now they are facing Maxwell to battle for the state championship.

Next we meet Noah who is too smart for his own good sometimes. We learn about a time when he visited his grandparents and ended up being the best man in a wedding.

Then we meet Nadia who is struggling with her parents' divorce. We learn about when she visited her grandfather and began to accept her new life-style migrating back and forth between her parents.

Next we meet Ethan who lives in the shadow of a talented older brother. We learn about how he found his place in school and the world through friendship.

Finally we meet Julian who recently moved to the US. We learn about his upbringing on a cruise ship.

These four kids make up the team, called The Souls. They are intelligent kids, but Mrs. Olinski knows that they work well as a team for other reasons. They are different races and practice different religions, yet they are tolerant of each other. They are unrelated, yet they have become family. And they are individuals, yet they respect each other as human beings.

I enjoyed reading this book and I recommend it to 6th graders.