The View from Saturday

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The View from Saturday
The View from Saturday.jpg
Author E. L. Konigsburg
Cover artist E. L. Konigsburg
Country United States
Language English
Genre Children's novel
Publisher Atheneum Books
Publication date
1996
Media type Print (hardcover & paperback)
Pages 160 pp (first, hard)
ISBN ISBN 0-689-80993-X (first edition, hard)
OCLC 33983334
LC Class PZ7.K8352 Vi 1996

The View from Saturday is a children's novel by E. L. Konigsburg, published by Atheneum Books for Young Readers in 1996.[1] It won the 1997 Newbery Medal for excellence in American children's literature, the author's second Medal.[2]

Structure[edit]

Narrative mode alternates between first-person limited and third-person omniscient. In the first person, four students and quiz teammates narrate one chapter each, "deftly prefaced by a question tailor-made for introducing the respective team members".[3]

According to Konigsburg,

I thought children would enjoy meeting one character, and then two characters, and that they would enjoy seeing parts of the story repeated but in a different way. I thought that they would enjoy having the second character interact with the first character, with each story moving the general story along. And I had hoped that readers would feel very satisfied with themselves when they had it all worked out.[4]

Saturday is not mystery fiction but it is a puzzle or three. Reviewer John Sigwald notes the "cryptic title", the "ubiquitous question [to Mrs. Olinski] how she selected the four sixth-graders from her class", and the "convoluted" and "tortuous" story with "challenging 'clues'".[3]

Present publisher Simon & Schuster labels the book for ages 8–12, grades 4-6[5] but the parental guide Common Sense Media capsule is "Brilliant but complex novel for older kids". "[S]uperb writing and characters make for a great story, but complexities of plot and style may leave some readers frustrated or bored."[6]

Summary[edit]

Eva Marie Olinski returned after her accident left her paraplegic. She chooses four of her sixth-grade students (Ethan, Noah, Nadia, and Julian), who form a group they call "The Souls," to represent her class in the Academic Bowl competition. They defeat the other sixth-grade teams, then the seventh- and eighth-grade champions at Epiphany, and so on until they become New York state middle school champions. The children help their teacher live a happier life after her win. A child named Hamilton Knapp makes fun and makes life harder for her. Later The Souls stick out their arms and legs when Mrs. Olinski stands up for herself when Hamilton and his follower Jared Lord harasses the class. They stick out their limbs to show that she can stand up for herself.

Between chapters that feature the progress of the competition, each of the four students narrates one chapter related both to the development of The Souls and to a question in the state championship final. Noah Gershom recounts learning calligraphy and being best man for his grandfather's friend at Century Village in Florida. Nadia Diamondstein describes working to conserve sea turtles and meeting Ethan, also at Century Village. Ethan Potter tells of meeting Julian, a new boy in town, and attending his tea parties, where the four Souls became friends. Julian Singh explains being new at school and tells of handling a chance for revenge against one of the bullies — remarkably grounded in the part played by Nadia's dog in the school musical "Annie".

Characters[edit]

  • Mrs. Eva Marie Olinski teaches at Epiphany Middle School. She feels that sixth-grade students have descended from "Now what?" to "So what?" during the years she has been away. Once shaken by her injury, she has suffered also from her reception by some students.[3] The four Souls respect her and help restore her confidence as a teacher. Although they are not the first four students originally, she selects them as the Academic Bowl team representing her class. For a long while she is not certain why she picked them, but with help from Mr. Singh, a friend, she finally sees why in a long and confusing anecdote.
  • Noah Gershom has brown hair and wears glasses. His mother is a doctor and his father is a dentist who employs Nadia's mom. Noah has visited grandparents in Florida. Mrs. Olinski chooses Noah first for the quiz team because he is smart, observant, quick and articulate, never without some answer, and a willing leader. He learns that he can't always be the hero, and that only a team wins the Academic Bowl, by working together. Additionally he is slow to come to idioms.
  • Nadia Diamondstein is a beautiful girl with curly red hair. Her parents are divorced. Nadia moved from Florida to New York with her mother, who is now a dental hygienist for Noah's father. Her father is an accountant in Florida, where grandfather Izzy Diamondstein recently married Ethan's grandmother Margaret Draper, formerly a principal and Mrs. Olinski's best friend.[a] In the school play, Nadia's dog Ginger plays Little Orphan Annie's dog Sandy.
  • Ethan Potter is a medium-sized boy with short, blond hair. He lives on a farm, and his family is one of the oldest in Epiphany. His grandmother Draper, a teacher who retired to Florida, recently married Nadia's grandfather Diamondstein. Ethan has disappointed teachers and other adults, for he is not as smart or athletic as his older brother Lucas, though the teachers never say that they think that. He is quiet and nervous before the Souls. He loves theater, staging included. Secretly, he has a passion for halos. His family's goal for him is to be a farmer while Lucas goes all around the world. Maybe this is why Ethan is always sad.
  • Julian Singh is an Indian boy with black hair and a British accent that he acquired as a boarding school student in England. His mother was a chanteuse, or singer, who died young. His father is a cook and now an innkeeper at a farm in Epiphany that he has made into bed and breakfast inn. There Julian has been "facilitator" of the four Souls, as host of 4:00 pm tea every Saturday.:[3] Julian was teased and bullied by other students this year, as a new boy from another culture. That was a learning experience, especially for Ethan. Julian is the last chosen for the quiz team, the missing piece from Mrs. Olinski's perspective. Julian makes the very best of things. When a bully wrote something that was not school appropriate on his backpack, he wrote: I AM A pASSenger on spaceship earth. When kids try to trip him, he says "excuse me" or "I beg your pardon".

Konigsburg tells Scholastic Teachers regarding all of her books that "the characters begin their lives as people that I may know, but they end up their lives as characters!"[4] She considers the friendship of the four Souls unusual but not unreal. She believes she has something in common with them: "There are parts in each of them that I relate to. Noah's resistance to authority, for example. Ethan's challenge for having a high-achieving sibling. Nadia's sense of having been abandoned. And I hope, Julian's kindness and outsiderness. Julian was the most outside of all of those children."[4] There is a metaphor in every symbol.

Origins[edit]

Konigsburg started the story of Ethan Potter's school bus ride on the first day of sixth grade. "A strangely dressed young man", Julian sat next to him and explained that father was opening a "bed-and-breakfast" B&B. She took a break, walking along the beach, and recalled three other short stories in her files: one about a boy Noah who must write a "bread-and-butter" B&B letter to his grandparents; one about a dog Ginger who plays the dog Sandy in "Annie"; one about an Academic Bowl team. She realized that the stories would complement each other in a whole "more than the sum of the parts. I knew that kids would love meeting one character and then two and three and four ... and they would think that fitting all the stories together was part of the adventure."[7]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Review by Sigwald: Librarian John Sigwald remarks that "the characters hardly note the numerous links between Epiphany, New York, and Century Village in Florida. I found a family tree (with a few birds on the branches) to be useful ...". He provides a paraphrase of the tree.

References[edit]

  1. ^ The view from Saturday, 1st ed. (catalog listing). Minuteman Library Network. Retrieved 2011-12-07.
  2. ^ "1997 Newbery Medal and Honor". Association for Library Service to Children. ALA. Retrieved 2011-11-15.
  3. ^ a b c d Review by Sigwald.
  4. ^ a b c "E. L. Konigsburg, Interview Transcript" (no date). Scholastic Teachers. scholastic.com. Retrieved 2011-12-05.
  5. ^ "The View From Saturday" (publisher's listing). Simon & Schuster. Retrieved 2011-12-06.
  6. ^ "The View From Saturday" (short review). Cindy Kane. Common Sense Media. Retrieved 2011-12-06.
  7. ^ "Konigsburg, E. L." Autobiographical statement from Connie Rockman, ed., Eighth Book of Junior Authors and Illustrators Wilson, 2000 (ISBN 0-8242-0968-0). CMS Library Information Center. Coleytown Middle School. Westport, Connecticut. Retrieved 2011-12-06.
Citations
Awards
Preceded by
The Midwife's Apprentice
Newbery Medal recipient
1997
Succeeded by
Out of the Dust