The View From Saturday Summary

E. L. Konigsburg

The View From Saturday

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The View From Saturday Summary

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E.L. Konigsburg’s young reader’s novel The View From Saturday is about Mrs. Eva Marie Olinski, a sixth-grade teacher, and the Academic Bowl team in Epiphany, NY. The team comprises four students, Julian Singh, Ethan Potter, Noah Gershom, and Nadia Diamondstein. Mrs. Olinski is confined to a wheelchair because she was paralyzed from the waist down after a car accident which claimed her husband’s life years before. When she returns to teaching, her confidence is shaken because of the accident and because several students play pranks on her.

The students on the Academic Bowl team each go on a journey that affects them and helps them grow. Noah visits his grandparents at their retirement village in Florida. Noah loves facts and arguments, and though he is smart, he is not a deep thinker. While he is in Florida, he helps prepare for a wedding between Izzy Diamondstein and Margaret Draper. By diving into the preparations for this wedding, Noah learns calligraphy and acts as a substitute best man after the groom’s son is in an accident. Noah learns to be selfless by giving away the gifts he receives for helping with the wedding.

Izzy’s granddaughter, Nadia, journeys to see her father after his accident. Her parents just got divorced, and Nadia is angry about it. Before her parents’ divorce and her grandfather’s marriage to Margaret Draper, Nadia worked with Margaret to save baby loggerhead turtles. Her anger makes her disgusted with them, but when they are endangered by a storm, she is able to put her anger aside to help the turtles. This helps heal the anger she feels toward her family, particularly toward her father.

Margaret Draper’s grandson is Ethan. Ethan’s journey takes place on the bus ride to Epiphany Middle School. Ethan is both quiet and shy, enjoying sitting alone on the bus, but his plan for solitude is disrupted when Julian Singh sits with him. Ethan thinks Julian will be picked on because he is different from the other students, so he decides he will not befriend him. However, as the bullying at school gets worse for Julian, Ethan jumps in and prevents Julian’s being injured. To thank him, Julian invites Ethan to a tea party, and Ethan attends—Nadia and Noah are also invited. The four become friends and go to tea parties at Julian’s house every Saturday.

Julian has had journeys of his own. His mother died years ago, and his father is a chef who worked on cruise ships but now wants to settle, so he decides to open up a bed and breakfast. Julian suffers in Epiphany because the other kids think he is different due to the color of his skin, his accent, and his manners. However, Julian displays strength and resilience in the face of bullying, bolstered further by his new friendships with Ethan, Nadia, and Noah. They name their group of friends The Souls.

After several weeks of tea parties, Julian tells the others that Mrs. Olinski is being bullied by the same students who give Julian a hard time. He tells them that she needs help. Meanwhile, Mrs. Olinski is appointing her team for the Academic Bowl. At first, she chooses Nadia, Noah, and Ethan; she finally chooses Julian for her fourth team member after witnessing his actions to save a dog whom another student planned to drug during the school’s performance of Annie.

After the performance, the Souls and Mrs. Olinski go to Julian’s father’s bed and breakfast, Sillington House. Margaret and Izzy are staying there for the weekend. Margaret and Mrs. Olinski were good friends from years ago, before Mrs. Olinski’s accident. Before retirement, Margaret was the principal of the school. However, seeing Margaret and Izzy happy together stirs up feelings of resentment in Mrs. Olinski, until she talks to Mr. Singh. After that, she is delighted by the friendship, trust, and respect shown among the Souls.

The Academic Bowl competitions begin shortly after, and the Souls are winning. They beat out the other sixth-grade classes, then tackle the seventh and eighth grades. From there, they take the district championship and move on to the regional championship competition. With every win, Mrs. Olinski gains more and more of her confidence back. At the final competition, Julian loses points but argues with the judges until they see that he is right, and the Souls win the competition. Afterward, Mr. Singh asks Mrs. Olinski why she chose the Souls for her team. She tells him it had nothing to do with reason, but rather because the children treated one another with kindness and respect.

Published in 1996, The View From Saturday won the 1997 Newbery Medal for excellence in American children’s literature. This was E.L. Konigsburg’s second Newbery Medal, the first having been awarded in 1968 for From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler.