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Book Club Kits: The View from Saturday

Alamance County Public Libraries offer Book Club Kits for check out to area book clubs. Each kit contains 10 copies of a book and a reading guide.

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E.L. Konigsburg

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Book Summary

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.

Discussion Questions

  • The four sixth graders on Mrs. Olinski's academic team call themselves "The Souls." Mrs. Olinski tells them that "they were a team as soon as they became 'The Souls.'" Why is "The Souls" a good name for these four students? At what point does Mrs. Olinski realize that "The Souls" would make a good academic team? How does Mrs. Olinski become a "Soul" herself? Why does Mrs. Olinski not know why she chose "The Souls" as her team until the end of the novel?
  • Mrs. Olinski and Dr. Rohmer have a discussion about diversity and multiculturalism. Explain what Dr. Rohmer means when he says, "Jews, half-Jews, and WASPs have nothing to do with diversity...The Indian does." What is the difference between diversity and multiculturalism? How is diversity important to a successful team? How might Mrs. Olinski's definition of diversity differ from Dr. Rohmer's definition? Discuss what is unique and diverse about each of "The Souls."
  • Nadia and her father help Grandpa Izzy and Margaret save the turtles. How do the turtles help Nadia? What does Nadia's father mean when he says, "And there will be times when you or I will need a lift between switches"? How do Mrs. Olinski and the other "Souls" feel "stranded" like the turtles? How do you know that each of "The Souls" needs a lift? How do their individual needs contribute to their success as a team?
  • "The Souls" seem to know a lot about teamwork long before becoming a team. Discuss how saving the turtles helps Nadia and Ethan learn about teamwork. What does Noah's role in the wedding of Izzy Diamondstein and Margaret Draper teach him about teamwork? How does Julian learn about being a team player on the cruise ship?
  • Margaret Draper retired from education because she couldn't deal with the drastic changes in the students. She says that students had stopped asking "Now what?" and began asking "So what?" Discuss the difference between these questions. Mrs. Olinski chooses Ethan, Margaret Draper's grandson, for the academic team when she realizes that he still asks the question "Now what?" How is asking "Now what?" an important quality for a member of an academic team? How might asking "So what?" be the demise of a team of any type?
  • There are times in life when one has to take risks in order to be successful. How do "The Souls" and Mrs. Olinski demonstrate their willingness to take risks? How does this contribute to their success as a team?
  • Each member of "The Souls" is resourceful and each, at some point, demonstrates courage. How does Noah's resourcefulness save the day at Izzy and Margaret's wedding? How does Julian's manner in handling the bully, Ham Knapp, reveal that he is both resourceful and courageous? How does being resourceful and courageous contribute to "The Souls" becoming a team?
  • Mrs. Olinski is a teacher who can tolerate mischief, but she cannot accept malice. Discuss the difference between mischief and malice. How is Ham Knapp guilty of malice? How can mischief and malice interfere with learning? Ham Knapp is very intelligent, but his behavior keeps him off the academic team. How does his behavior indicate that he isn't a team player?

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About the Author

Elaine Lobl Konigsburg was an American author and illustrator of children's books and young adult fiction. She was the only author to win the Newbery Medal and a Newbery Honor in the same year (1968), with her second and first books respectively: From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler and Jennifer, Hecate, Macbeth, William McKinley, and Me, Elizabeth. Kongisburg won a second Newbery Medal in 1997 for The View from Saturday, 29 years later, the longest span between any two Newberys awarded to one author.