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The Mysterious Edge of the Heroic World Hardcover – September 25, 2007


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Product Details

  • Age Range: 10 - 14 years
  • Grade Level: 4 - 8
  • Lexile Measure: 910L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers; 1St Edition edition (September 25, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1416949720
  • ISBN-13: 978-1416949725
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 5.8 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,185,633 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

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
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Review

"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 --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

More About the Author

E. L. Konigsburg is the only author to have won the Newbery Medal and be runner-up in the same year. In 1968 From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler won the Newbery Medal and Jennifer, Hecate, Macbeth, William McKinley, and Me, Elizabeth was named Newbery Honor Book. Almost thirty years later she won the Newbery Medal once again for The View From Saturday. She has also written and illustrated three picture books: Samuel Todd's Book of Great Colors, Samuel Todd's Book of Great Inventions, and Amy Elizabeth Explores Bloomingdale's. In 2000 she wrote Silent to the Bone, which was named a New York Times Notable Book and an ALA Best Book for Young Adults, among many other honors.

After completing her degree at Carnegie Mellon University, Ms. Konigsburg did graduate work in organic chemistry at the University of Pittsburgh. For several years she taught science at a private girls' school. When the third of her three children started kindergarten, she began to write. She now lives on the beach in North Florida.

Customer Reviews

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The holocaust connection was very well done.
A. Teacher
One of the other problems I had with this book was the character of Mrs. Zender herself.
E. R. Bird
It's just my sense that the slow storyline won't hold their attention.
Long Ago

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

41 of 49 people found the following review helpful By E. R. Bird HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on September 26, 2007
Format: Hardcover
A question was posed recently on the Horn Book blog run by Roger Sutton about what it would be like if reviewers never knew the names of the authors of the books they read and critique. It's an interesting idea. No human being is a blank slate, after all. You can't help but acquire little prejudices and preconceptions as you become more and more familiar with a writer's work. Sometimes you, the reviewer, are going to have to face facts about one author or another; You're just not that big a fan of their work. Take me, for example. If you asked me what I thought of E.L. Konigsburg I would yelp a quick, "I liked The View from Saturday," and hope to high heaven that you'd leave it at that. Fact of the matter is, I read "A View from Saturday" a long time ago. Maybe I'd feel the same about it now as I did the first time I perused it. Maybe not. You see as of right now I'm just not that into Konigsburg. I recognize her importance in the field of children's literature. I appreciate her stories and her characters and her plots. I'm just not that big a fan of her writing or her dialogue, and this makes it difficult for me to read her books. So when I found myself in possession of "The Mysterious Edge of the Heroic World" I decided (yet again) to put aside my assumptions and just enjoy the ride. I failed in this. So basically I'm telling you right off the bat that if you want an unbiased review, look elsewhere. I can only write what I myself perceive, and what I perceive before me is a book that isn't quite sure who its audience is.

Sixth grader Amedeo Kaplan has just moved to St. Malo, Florida from New York and he's in a bit of a rut.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Janet Zarem on October 5, 2007
Format: Hardcover
"The Mysterious Edge of the Heroic World" is a companion piece to "Silent to the Bone" and "The Outcasts of 19 Schuyler Place." It stands on its own, but the three novels enrich and cross pollinate one another even though they are not "sequels" or "prequels." Because it involves an art mystery, it is also a descendant of Konisgburg's Newbery Award winning novel, "From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler." But what a descendant it is.

As you have probably read in the previous reviews, this novel addresses the art that was stolen during the Holocaust. In some places it becomes a primer on "Degenerate Art" and on the Nazi persecution of Jews, homosexuals, Roma (gypsies) and other non-Aryan "undesirables." (There are generalizations about the Germans in World War II, some of which certain readers may find disturbing, though they come from the mouth of a character--Leilani Vanderwaal--who has survived the German occupation of Holland, and whose point of view--stated simply and almost eerily without drama--is entirely understandable.)

"Mysterious Edge" is redolent with literary resonance: names like Fortinbras, Epiphany, Amadeo, and even Lancaster (remember the War of the Roses and how the House of Tudor established itself?) dance along with everyday life in a small, heat-stifled Florida town, giving the narrative a quirky depth. Even the name of the town, St.Malo, recalls the real St. Malo, the walled French town that became notorious as the home of privateers and pirates, reminding us in yet another way of theft, murder and betrayal.

Konigsburg's novel is filled with coincidences, but not the kind that seem contrived--the kind that seem destined, at least to this reader, who has experienced numerous odd coincidences over the course of her life.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful A Kid's Review on October 3, 2007
Format: Hardcover
I really love this book. Very impressive. Very funny and sad. I cried my heart out. I didn't want it to end.
I want to recommend this book for those who love art, history, feminism, and truth. Not only for kids but also for grown-ups. The greatest book I've ever read. Definitely.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Long Ago on January 28, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Three stars for average.

The story is slow and the characters are inconsistent, but the sections related to lost and stolen art by the Nazis were interesting to read. I enjoyed the fictionalized (of course) stories of the young men in an art shop on Prinsengracht in Amsterdam trying to save the loss of great art the Nazis had condemned as "degenerate art". I can imagine such fictionalized accounts of this type of activity probably aren't too far from truth.

In terms of the characters I didn't like the development of the two young teen boys. At one moment they were talking like one might expect a teen to speak, for example, poor grammar. Then a bit later they were discussing great works of art like they were well educated, sophisticated adults. It just grated on me.

The story really didn't get interesting in terms of the discovery of lost art and solving the mystery of its origin until about the final 1/4 of the book. A lot of what came before that seemed to be fluffy filler.

Finally, though it's billed as a "teen" book I can't imagine many teens would spend their time with this one. It's just my sense that the slow storyline won't hold their attention. This book would be thrown by the wayside in favor of something more stimulating to the senses.
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