Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Children's Book Review: The Outcasts of 19 Schuyler Place

E.L. Konigsburg.  The Outcast of 19 Schuyler Place. New York, NY: Atheneum, 2004.  ISBN: 0689866364. 

Precocious 12-year-old Margaret Rose Kane's summer adventures with her Hungarian uncles begin after Uncle Alex Rose with his truffle-hunting dog, Tartufo, rescue her from Camp Talequa while her parents travel in Peru. At 19 Schuyler Place, Margaret enjoys her uncles' Old World ways and their three backyard towers created piece by piece and jeweled with glass, crystal, porcelain, and old clock parts over the course of 45 years. After Margaret discovers the city council's plans to remove the towers, she orchestrates saving the historic masterpieces together with Jacob Kaplan, a local artist and the camp director's son.

Life and love abound between Margaret and her "granduncles." Uncles Morris and Alex fondly call Margaret, their sister's namesake, edes Margitkam, my sweet Margaret. She relishes time with her watchmaker uncles who tell family and local stories while they cook Hungarian favorites in the kitchen. With great humor, Newbery Medal winning author E. L. Koningsburg captures the affinity between Margaret Rose, her uncles, Jacob and the others whose lives they illuminate. As Uncle Alex tells her, "You have a time and our side of history," (p. 132) and "the choices of a single person can change future history" (p. 164). Readers may also enjoy the earlier companion novel, Silent to the Boone, for ages 9-12.

Reviewed by Charity Leonette, Community Partnerships Coordinator, Allegheny County Library Association. This review was printed in The Journal of Intergenerational Relationships, Vo. 8 (2) 2010. Available online at www.taylorandfrancisgroup.com. ISSN: 1535-0770.

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