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The View from Saturday Paperback – February 1, 1998
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From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Top Customer Reviews
One of the reasons that this book is set apart from all other books is the subject material, and how it is written. It is about the sixth grade Academic Bowl team, and how they became a true team. The story line struck quite close to home for me. A member of academic teams myself, and someone who just completed the sixth grade, Koningsburg's descriptions of the hard work that is put into preparing for this kind of event is quite accurate. Also, the diversity of her team is also shockingly accurate. Each person has a distinctly different personality, which is always true. If each personality is different, it is so much easier to make a team out of 4 kids.
The View from Saturday is a book that really touches upon things that aren't usually brought up very often. Most people I know have loved this book, but none as much as me. I think that once you have read this book, it gives you a whole new outlook on life. You see people in a different light- eccentric people, troublemakers, almost everyone I know I can relate to one of these characters. I read this book in the fourth grade for the first time. Now, in the seventh, I feel that the book itself has changed. Able to relate it to my everyday life, I can see not only how Mrs. Olinski picked her team, but how the people on my team got there. I would wholeheartedly reccomend this book to anyone who can read it, but especially kids in 6th grade or older, so they can get the full meaning of this wonderful work of literature.
"The View From Saturday" follows the lives of four sixth grade quiz bowl champs and their paraplegic coach/teacher. Alternating their final quiz bowl championship match with short stories about the different journeys each kid has had to make, the book is adept at distinguishing between each individual in the group. We begin by listening to a story told by Noah. Noah reminded me of nothing so much as the spaz boy in the spelling bee documentary "Spellbound". A bit of a nerd, but pleased with his own inventive thoughts and ideas, Noah becomes the best man at a geriatric wedding. Then we hear Nadia's story about staying with her divorced father and newly remarried grandfather (hence the Noah connection) in Florida. This flows nicely into Ethan's story. His grandmother married Nadia's grandfather, and he overcomes his reluctance to interact easily with others with the help of his new friend Julian. Julian is the least troubled of the bunch, a boy of Indian heritage who is coming to America after living on a cruise ship. Together, the four band together into a group called The Souls. They are selected by Mrs. Olinski (though for a long time she doesn't know why) as her newest Quiz Bowl team and work effortlessly together in a group as friends and teammates.
A synopsis of this tale really doesn't do it justice. Konigsburg is an adept writer and she knows exactly how to balance a story with both emotion and humor. I was particularly taken with Nadia's tale about living in Florida. Somehow, the author was able to conjure up feelings of being ignored and abandoned perfectly. As Nadia feels an (in my opinion) entirely justified sense of self-pity, we as readers understand what she's going through perfectly. Little triumphs are measured with small defeats. One of the things this book dares to say, and says so well, is how awfully mean people can be. That's a pretty loaded idea. Books today enjoy showing a mean person and then revealing the back story to their crimes. Here, we understand that sometimes a person's just mean to be mean, and it makes them unsuitable as friends as a result.
Then there's Konigsburg's usual jabs at adults in positions of authority. In this particular case she's aimed her sights at people who naturally expect themselves to be smarter than children, yet constantly make mistakes regarding multiculturalism, grammar, pronunciation, etc. And she doesn't drill this idea home by ever putting the adults in situations where they spar with the kids. Instead, they tend to spar with Mrs. Olinski, assuming that because she is a) Just a teacher and b) Confined to a wheelchair she must therefore be less worthy of intelligent human discourse. The result is usually both funny and profound.
Funny and profound is a good way to describe this entire offering, actually. It has its oddities, that's for sure. You have kids in this book saying sentences like, "Oh, that is too bad. Dad is picking me up before supper, and he will be disappointed if I do not eat with him". Not a contraction in sight. Do sixth graders actually act like the ones in this book? Probably not. Will you be amused by them anyway? Probably so. Will actual living breathing sixth graders be amused, intrigued, and challenged by this book? I have absolutely no idea. Maybe yes, maybe no. Whether or not they will, the book is fabulous, fun, and wise beyond its years. It's like a little dose of Zen religion without hokey mysticism or flowery prose. This book respects you, it respects your opinions, and it respects your sense of self-worth. If you have any desire to read something that accomplishes all this and more, pick it up for a glance.
P.S for teachers: Excellent book to use for voice, point of view, and repetition in a story.
Together, however, the sixth graders formed The Souls, a tea partying, academic-quiz bowl playing, calligraphy-writing foursome who overcomes all odds to evolve into their true selves.
I loved this book. The View from Saturday was an amazing combination of well-written humor and an intricately woven plot line. This book was made for all people to read, it is a heartwarming tale that makes you want to go out and do something good for this crazy world.