Ms. Konigsburg has said that this small novel originated in a handful of unfinished short stories. The real stroke of inspiration was when she realized what all of those stories had in common and shaped them into one coherent whole. The outline of some of the stories can still be seen in the description of the journeys each of four children took on their way to becoming a team, or club, known as the Souls. But the way all their journeys merge into one moving and uplifting journey is what makes this book very special.
The Souls are four sixth-graders in the upstate New York town of Epiphany (whose name is as meaningful as the Gramercy Road that figures in it). Three of them–Noah, Nadia, and Ethan–are connected through relations in Florida, though they are not special friends until a strange boy from India, named Julian, invites them to a tea party. It seems clear from the start that something special is in store for the Souls. And we know, from the way the plot threads are paid out, that it will be something to do with a state-championship Academic Bowl team, coached by their paraplegic teacher, Mrs. Olinski.
Im going to clam up now. Theres a lot more Id like to say about this book, but I hope Ive whetted your appetite already–I dont want to spoil your tea. I can tell you this, however: every year since 1922, the Childrens Librarians Section of the American Library Association has awarded a Newbery Medal to one author for extraordinary achievement in childrens literature. One author a year is not many. Not surprisingly, very few authors have received this honor twice; E. L. Konigsburg is one of them. From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler won in 1968, and this book in 1997. That alone should be an honor worth cherishing; but I would be very proud, and I hope anyone would be, simply to have written something as good as The View from Saturday.