“The Outcasts of 19 Schuyler Place” by E. L. Konigsburg
For another entry in the Young Readers Challenge I have completed “The Outcasts of 19 Schuyler Place” by E. L. Konigsburg. This book is about Margaret Rose Kane, her two great uncles Morris and Alexander Kaplan, the towers and probably the most eventful summer in Margaret Rose’s life. It begins with her first visit to summer camp. Her parents had gone to Peru for an archaeological dig — and other things — and had planned to leave Margaret with her great uncles for the month. Margaret stayed with her great-uncles a great deal and even had her own room so she was looking forward to the stay. However, her uncles suggested camp. It didn’t go well. Margaret was rescued my her uncle to remain in their care for the duration of her parents absence. She loved her uncles house because it was special — it had the towers. The towers had always been there and were magical. And there was Tartufo, the dog that had come from Italy and her new friend and conspirator, Jake. The story is centered around the changing town of Epiphany — urban renewal and renovation — and how the new “neighbors” didn’t think the towers were appropriate for the new look of “Old Town” Epiphany. The uncles had fought the city council decision to have the towers demolished but it took Margaret, her mothers childhood friends, her camp enemies, her new friend Jake and Tartufo to turn things around, make everybody happy and save the towers for future generations. There were things, however, that couldn’t be saved and some very ironic twists but I won’t tell you about them, you will have to read the book yourself.
This book is labeled for 10 yrs. and up but Konigsburg has such mature characterization that I think more like 12 -14 would be a good starting point. I completely enjoyed the book and didn’t feel like I was reading a children’s book. The characterization is impeccable, the settings so well depicted that you recognize them immediately, the mood is consistent with the action and flow. It is a good read and I would recommend it for the aforementioned age group as well as adults.