Twelve year old Margaret Rose Kane is incorrigible. Not only does she refuse to bend to the will of her manipulative cabin mates at Camp Talequa, she stands up to and inadvertently insults the camp director and Queen-in-residence, Mrs. Kaplan. The intimidating and cruel confrontations that threaten to break Margaret's spririt only serve to strengthen her resolve, and everyone is happy when Margaret is finally banished/rescued from Camp Talequa. Luckily for her, with her parents in Peru, this means she can spend the rest of the summer with her delightfully eccentric Hungarian great-uncles, Alexander and Morris Rose. Margaret adores her great-uncles, and loves the house at 19 Schuyler Place--especially the three peculiar clock towers (tall painted structures covered in pendants made from broken china, crystal, bottles, jars, and clock parts) that the Rose brothers have been building for as long as she can remember. For Margaret and the Rose brothers, the towers represent beauty for beauty's sake--they sparkle in the sun and sing in the wind--they exist only to spread joy. Not everyone loves the towers however, and forty-five years after the birth of the project, the city council declares the towers "unsafe," and demands that they be dismantled and destroyed. Filled with the same fiery resolve that helped her survive Camp Talequa, Margaret (with the help of a handyman named Jake, a loyal dog named Tartufo, and few other unexpected allies) launches a plan to save the towers in the name of art, history, and beauty.
A companion novel to the award-winning author's acclaimed Silent to the Bone, Outcasts is strikingly unique, incredibly interesting, and, with references to "Bartleby the Scrivener", and the rose windows of Notre Dame, exceptionally literary. In other words, The Outcasts of 19 Schuyler Place is vintage Konigsburg. This quirky masterpiece will be enjoyed by young fans of Konigsburgs other erudite works, and Polly Horvaths The Canning Season.. (Ages 10 and older)
From School Library Journal
Grade 6-9-In Silent to the Bone (Atheneum, 2000), a grown-up Margaret Rose Kane helps her half brother, Connor, solve the mystery of why his best friend can't speak. Outcasts is her remembrance of her 12th summer. Pitched into camp by her parents while they travel in Peru, she is tormented by cliquish cabin mates and adopts a passive-aggressive stance that infuriates the overly rigid and money-grasping camp director. Rescued by her beloved elderly uncles and taken to their home, Margaret is appalled to discover that the city has ordered the soaring, artistic towers they have created in the backyard to be taken down because they don't adhere to the strictures of the now-historic district. Stung by the idea that real history and a work of art could be destroyed by profit-seeking interest groups manipulating governmental regulations, Margaret swings into action to fight an even larger tyranny than the one she had encountered at camp. Delicious irony permeates the story, with Margaret citing words from idealistic documents and then relating the reality. The plot is well paced and has excellent foreshadowing. Konigsburg's characters are particularly well motivated, from the camp director who gives herself airs to hide well-earned insecurities to her seemingly mentally challenged son who is actually an intellectual as well as an artist. Most wonderfully rendered through dialogue are the Hungarian-American Jewish uncles, crotchety with age, but full of love and life and a sure understanding of what it means to be an individual American. Funny and thought-provoking by turns, this is Konigsburg at her masterful best.Cindy Darling Codell, Clark Middle School, Winchester, KY
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.