Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

The View From Saturday

The View From Saturday

E.L. Konigsburg
For ages 8 to 12
Unabridged audiobook (CD)
Performed/read by: Jenna Lamia and Jan Maxwell
Simon & Schuster Audio, 2009   ISBN: 0743597133

Julian, Nadia, Ethan, and Noah seemingly have nothing in common. They come from very different backgrounds and have different interests, and yet, under the right circumstances they become close friends and a force for good.

We first meet Noah, who quite by accident (an accident really does occur) becomes the best man at Ethan’s grandfather’s wedding. Noah learns to appreciate calligraphy and he also learns how to give to others with openness and honesty.

Nadia is next. Unlike Noah, who is a cheerful and hopeful boy, Nadia is angry. She is angry that her grandfather has married again, and she is angry that her father appears to be lost after his divorce from Nadia’s mother. Then she and father learn that they can accept a little “lift” when they have lost their way. Through a common goal – saving some baby sea turtles - they find a way to connect and help one another.

Ethan is a very quiet boy who rarely says anything at all. He certainly does not share his thoughts and feelings, and he keeps to himself. Until Julian, a very strange Indian boy, comes into his life. Julian reminds Ethan that there are times when it is good to speak up and to take a risk.

Julian is new in town and he is immediately singled out by the class bullies. Luckily he is wise beyond his years. He refuses to respond to the bullying, and he finds a clever way to build friendships with three children in his class; Nadia, Ethan, and Noah.

These four children pool their gifts and talents and form a group. They call themselves The Souls, and without really trying, they show everyone that their mutual kindness and respect makes them a force to be reckoned with; a good force.

This powerful and beautifully written novel is compelling and very moving. The threads of the children’s stories seem to be unrelated at first, but then, as the tale unfolds, we watch these same threads come together, connect, and then form bonds. With a meaningful message about the power of kindness, this is a novel that will surely delight listeners of all ages for years to come.

Jenna Lamia and Jan Maxwell beautifully capture the unique natures of the characters, bringing them to life and giving listeners a delightful audio experience.