From School Library Journal
Grade 5–8—This humorous, poignant, tragic, and mysterious story has intertwining plots that peel away like the layers of an onion. An unlikely friendship develops between two precocious sixth graders as they unite to sort through the belongings of an eccentric, pretentious, and intriguing neighbor. William's mother is a liquidator hired to evaluate Mrs. Zender's possessions as the old woman gets ready to move into a residence for senior citizens, and William is helping her. Amadeo asks to join him in the project. William is a bright, sophisticated youngster; Amadeo, the new kid in St. Malo, FL, dreams of someday making an important discovery. He suspects there are possibilities among Mrs. Zender's belongings, particularly a piece of art by Modigliani. Amadeo's godfather, Peter Vanderwaal, is preparing an exhibit of Degenerate Art for the Sheboygan Art Center. This plotline leads to a discovery about Mr. Zender's past. Through old letters, parts of a memoir written by Peter's father, Peter's introduction to his exhibit, and thumbnail biographies of the artists deemed unfit by the Nazis, readers are educated about this aspect of Nazi repression. Dramatic revelations about the victimization of homosexuals and other figures during the Holocaust also become part of the story. In spite of these necessary intrusions, readers will be eager to discover the truth about the Zenders and the suspicious art treasure. Konigsburg, a master of characterization, has created a cast of idiosyncratic people and skillfully embedded them in an appealing tale of friendship, loyalty, and mystery.—Renee Steinberg, formerly at Fieldstone Middle School, Montvale, NJ
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"Humorous, poignant, tragic, and mysterious...Konigsburg, a master of characterization, has created a cast of idiosyncratic people and skillfully embedded them in an appealing tale of friendship, loyalty, and mystery." -- School Library Journal
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