The View from Saturday
The View from Saturday

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Annotation: Four sixth-grade students develop a special bond with their paraplegic teacher who chose them for the academic bowl competition.
Catalog Number: #315904
Format: Perma-Bound Edition
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Common Core/STEAM: Common Core Common Core
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Publisher: Aladdin
Copyright Date: 1996
Edition Date: 1998
Pages: 163 pages
Availability: Available
ISBN: Publisher: 0-689-81721-5 Perma-Bound: 0-605-34488-4
ISBN 13: Publisher: 978-0-689-81721-2 Perma-Bound: 978-0-605-34488-4
Dewey: Fic
LCCN: 95052624
Dimensions: 20 cm.
Language: English
ALA Booklist
Four sixth-graders are chosen by their teacher, Mrs. Olinski, to be the class representatives for the Academic Bowl team. When the team goes on to perform amazing feats of erudition, including winning the state championship, people keep asking Mrs. Olinski how she chose the participants. Although the questioners never get a real answer, the story, told from different perspectives, lets readers in on the secret. Konigsburg's latest shows flashes of her great talent and her grasp of childhood, but the book is weighted down by a Byzantine structure that houses too many characters and alternating narratives that will confuse readers. The story begins at the wedding of two senior citizens in which young Noah is the best man. Two of the other team members, Ethan and Nadia, are grandchildren of the bride and groom, and the fourth member, new boy Julian Singh, cements the group when he invites the others for tea (yes, tea). Mrs. Olinski, who is wheelchair bound, only thinks she is choosing the quartet, when it is just as true they are choosing her. Overriding themes of civility and inclusiveness add interesting elements, but this is more ambitious than it is successful. (Reviewed October 15, 1996)
Horn Book
Mrs. Olinski's sixth-grade Academic Bowl team has made it all the way to the state finals. Each of the four teammates must answer a question, and their answers blossom from their surprisingly intertwined lives and aspirations. The interlockings are clever, but they contribute to an aura of artifice that haloes the book. Smart readers, though, may be drawn to this story of smart kids who win--on many levels.
Kirkus Reviews
Admirable acts, challenging ideas, and grace notes positively festoon this superb tale of four sixth graders and a paraplegic teacher forming a junior high Academic Bowl team that sweeps away the competition. The plot is composed of interwoven puzzles. What prompts Mrs. Olinski to choose Noah, Nadia, Ethan, and Julian for the team over the usual overachievers and honor students in her class? What do they know about her, themselves, and each other that puts them so precisely on the same wavelength and gives them such complementary knowledge and experience? Each has a tale to tell, in the course of which all four witness acts of kindness and respect that teach them to find those feelings in themselves and others. In wry prose filled with vivid imagery, information, and often oblique clues, Konigsburg takes her team through bonding, drills, and a series of contests as suspenseful as any in sports fiction; the children and Mrs. Olinski's public triumph mirror inner epiphanies of rare depth and richness. The large cast, looping plot line, and embedded stories with different narrators require careful sorting, but the effort is eminently worthwhile, and Konigsburg kindly provides answers at the end. (Fiction. 11-13)"
Publishers Weekly
This 1996 Newbery Medal winner charts the ties that bind four members of an extraordinarily successful 6th-grade quiz bowl team. In a starred review, PW called it """"glowing with humor and dusted with magic."""" Ages 8-12. (Feb.)
School Library Journal Starred Review
Gr 4-6--Take four sixth graders; combine them as the Epiphany School team for Academic Bowl; add one paraplegic teacher; toss in formal tea times, grandparents of team members getting married, and some magic and calligraphy. Stir them with Konigsburg's masterful hand and you have an ingenious story. Nadia, Noah, Julian, and Ethan are not the top honor students, but Mrs. Olinski has chosen them for other reasons, ones unclear even to her. As the team beats all odds and expectations and reaches the finals, flashbacks told by each member shape a scenario that's like a bundle of pick-up sticks, each piece touching, supporting, and overlapping with the others, and one move effects them all. Stunning interplay of Nadia's turtle watches on Florida beaches, Noah's role as best man at a senior-citizen wedding, Ethan's discovery of himself through new friends, and Julian's ethical decision involving a bully skillfully wrap their stories into one, with amazing insights. Brilliant writing melds with crystalline characterizations in this sparkling story that is a jewel in the author's crown of outstanding work.--Julie Cummins, New York Public Library
Starred Review for Publishers Weekly
Glowing with humor and dusted with magic, this contemporary novel explores the ties that bind the four members of a championship academic quiz-bowl team. Sixth-grade teacher/coach Mrs. Olinski, teaching for the first time since becoming paraplegic, proudly observes her students' victories from the confines of a wheelchair. She is not sure what propelled her to choose the members of her team, nor does she fully comprehend the secret of their success in repeatedly beating older, more sophisticated competitors. Readers will be equally mystified until the backgrounds of the foursome (who call themselves The Souls) unfold during a series of first-person narratives that reveal the links between the students' private lives. Newbery Medalist Konigsburg (From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler) orchestrates a stunning quartet of harmoniously blended voices. She expresses the individual struggles of each of her characters while showing how they unite to reach a common goal. Wrought with deep compassion and a keen sense of balance, her imaginative novel affirms the existence of small miracles in everyday life. Ages 8-12. (Sept.)
Word Count: 42,685
Reading Level: 5.9
Interest Level: 4-7
Accelerated Reader: reading level: 5.9 / points: 7.0 / quiz: 15098 / grade: Middle Grades
Reading Counts!: reading level:4.8 / points:9.0 / quiz:Q12115
Lexile: 870L
Guided Reading Level: U
Fountas & Pinnell: U
Mrs. Eva Marie Olinski always gave good answers. Whenever she was asked how she had selected her team for the Academic Bowl, she chose one of several good answers. Most often she said that the four members of her team had skills that balanced one another. That was reasonable. Sometimes she said that she knew her team would practice. That was accurate. To the district superintendent of schools, she gave a bad answer, but she did that only once, only to him, and if that answer was not good, her reason for giving it was.

The fact was that Mrs. Olinski did not know how she had chosen her team, and the further fact was that she didn't know that she didn't know until she did know. Of course, that is true of most things you do not know up to and including the very last second before you do. And for Mrs. Olinski that was not until Bowl Day was over and so was the work of her four sixth graders.

They called themselves The Souls. They told Mrs. Olinski that they were The Souls long before they were a team, but she told them that they were a team as soon as they became The Souls. Then after a while, teacher and team agreed that they were arguing chicken-or-egg.

Whichever way it began -- chicken-or-egg, team-or-The Souls -- it definitely ended with an egg. Definitely, an egg.

People still remark about how extraordinary it was to have four sixth graders make it to the finals. There had been a few seventh graders scattered among the other teams, but all the rest of the middle school regional champs were eighth graders. Epiphany had never before won even the local championship, and there they were, up on stage, ready to compete for the state trophy. All four members of Maxwell, the other team in the final round, were in the eighth grade. Both of the Maxwell boys' voices had deepened, and the girls displayed lacy bra straps inside their T-shirt necklines. The fact that the necklines were outsized and that the two pairs of straps matched -- they were apricot-colored -- made Mrs. Olinski believe that they were not making a fashion statement as much as they were saying something. To her four sixth graders puberty was something they could spell and define but had yet to experience.

Unlike football bowls, there had been no season tallies for the academic teams. There had been no best-of-five. Each contest had been an elimination round. There were winners, and there were losers. From the start, the rule was Lose one game, and you are out.

So it was on Bowl Day. At the start of the day, there had been eight regional champs. Now there were two -- Epiphany and Maxwell.

It was afternoon by the time they got to the last round, and Mrs. Olinski sat shivering in a windowless room in a building big enough and official enough to have its own zip code. This was Albany, the capital of the state of New York. This was the last Saturday in May, and some robot -- human or electronic -- had checked the calendar instead of the weather report and had turned on the air-conditioning. Like everyone else in the audience, Mrs. Olinski wore a short-sleeved T-shirt with her team's logo across the front. Maxwell's were navy; Epiphany's were red and were as loud as things were permitted to get in that large, cold room. The audience had been asked not to whistle, cheer, stomp, hold up signs, wave banners, or even applaud. They were reminded that this Bowl was for brains, not brawn, and decorum -- something between chapel and the order of the day.

Epiphany sat on one side of a long table; Maxwell, the other. At a lectern between them stood the commissioner of education of the state of New York. He smiled benevolently over the audience as he reached inside his inner breast pocket and withdrew a pair of reading glasses. With a flick of his wrist he opened them and put them on.

Mrs. Olinski hugged her upper arms and wondered if maybe it was nerves and not the quartering wind blowing from the ceiling vents that was causing her shivers. She watched with baited (and visible) breath as the commissioner placed his hand into a large clear glass bowl. His college class ring knocked bottom. (Had the room been two degrees colder, the glass would have shattered.) He withdrew a piece of paper, unfolded it, and read, "What is the meaning of the word calligraphy and from what language does it derive?"

A buzzer sounded.

Mrs. Olinski knew whose it was. She was sure of it. She leaned back and relaxed. She was not nervous. Excited, yes. Nervous, no.

The television lights glanced off Noah Gershom's glasses. He had been the first chosen.

Excerpted from The View from Saturday by E. L. Konigsburg
All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

HOW HAD MRS. OLINSKI CHOSEN her sixth-grade Academic Bowl team? She had a number of answers. But were any of them true? How had she really chosen Noah and Nadia and Ethan and Julian? And why did they make such a good team?
It was a surprise to a lot of people when Mrs. Olinski's team won the sixth-grade Academic Bowl contest at Epiphany Middle School. It was an even bigger surprise when they beat the seventh grade and the eighth grade, too. And when they went on to even greater victories, everyone began to ask: How did it happen?
It happened at least partly because Noah had been the best man (quite by accident) at the wedding of Ethan's grandmother and Nadia's grandfather. It happened because Nadia discovered that she could not let a lot of baby turtles die. It happened when Ethan could not let Julian face disaster alone. And it happened because Julian valued something important in himself and saw in the other three something he also valued.
Mrs. Olinski, returning to teaching after having been injured in an automobile accident, found that her Academic Bowl team became her answer to finding confidence and success. What she did not know, at least at first, was that her team knew more than she did the answer to why they had been chosen.
This is a tale about a team, a class, a school, a series of contests and, set in the midst of this, four jewel-like short stories -- one for each of the team members -- that ask questions and demonstrate surprising answers.

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