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The View from Saturday: Summary & Characters

Instructor: Summer Stewart

Summer has taught creative writing and sciences at the college level. She holds an MFA in Creative writing and a B.A.S. in English and Nutrition

In The View from Saturday by E. L. Konigsburg, a group of sixth-graders compete against smart, bigger, and nastier eight-graders in the competition of the year. In this lesson, you will get in-depth coverage on the plot and characters of this book.

Background

The View from Saturday by E. L. Konigsburg is an elementary school novel that unfolds the story of Mrs. Olinksi's academic bowl team. The group of sixth-graders doesn't look like kids who'd be friends, but we slowly learn throughout the book how these kids come together as friends and act as a team. The story is unique in that it switches between the perspectives of each student and Mrs. Olinksi, adding a dynamic element to the plot.

Novel Summary

The View from Saturday opens with The Souls, a sixth grade team competing in the Academic Bowl. The team includes Noah, Nadia, Julian, and Ethan. After battling a number of difficult rounds of the competition, they find themselves in the final round, one step away from becoming champions. The first question of the round is, 'What is the meaning of calligraphy, and from what language does it derive?'

Noah and Nadia Narrate

Noah buzzes in with the answer. The story shifts into Noah's point of view. We learn that Noah learned calligraphy while spending part of his summer with his grandparents in Florida.

The story briefly swings back to the competition before moving into Nadia's perspective. During the segment Nadia narrates, we learn that she too traveled to Florida during the summer to visit her father, as her parents are recently divorced. While she is there, her grandfather gets married to Margaret, who happens to be Ethan Potter's grandmother. During her stay, Ethan, Margaret, her grandpa and her father save newly hatched turtles, while Nadia wallows about her current situation. A big storm sweeps in, and Nadia decides to stop sulking and help with the baby turtles.

Mrs. Olinski Narrates

The story shifts back to Mrs. Olinski and the competition. She reveals that Margaret was the principal of Epiphany Elementary school when she first started teaching. Mrs. Olinksi reveals that she is in a wheelchair because of a car accident, which resulted in her husband's death. After another question is given, the story moves into Ethan's perspective.

Ethan Narrates

Ethan tells the reader that he rides the bus a long way to school and back because he lives on a farm outside of town. Ethan has a lot of pressure put on him by himself, teachers, and his parents because they expect him to be as great as his older brother Luke. One day, Julian, an odd boy, sits next to Ethan on the bus. They do not become friends, but later Ethan protects Julian from Hamilton Knapp, the school bully.

Julian invites Ethan over for tea to thank him. When Ethan gets there, he discovers that Nadia is there too. At this junction, 'The Souls' are born, and the story moves back to the competition before quickly moving into Julian's story.

Julian Narrates

Julian's story starts after 'The Souls' have come together. Julian helps Nadia train her dog Ginger for the school play Annie. Again, the story moves back into the competition for the final question. Julian answers it correctly and the team is victorious.

Characters

Mrs. Olinski

Possessing a streak of anger and resolute sense of humor, Mrs. Olinksi isn't your average sixth grade teacher. Unlike other teachers at school, Mrs. Olinksi doesn't claim to have all of the answers. She is critical of teachers acting as though they are superior to their students because of their positions. She often pokes fun at this type of behavior. Mrs. Olinski chooses her team for the academic competition without strategy in mind. She claims that she has no idea how she selected the students.

Noah Gershom

Noah is a matter-of-fact know-it-all that can come across as irritating. Outside of his peculiar personality, Noah seems normal when put next to the other team members. During the span of the book, Noah learns to be gracious and grateful. For example, he writes a note to his grandparents for taking care of him during the summer, which was something he swore that he wouldn't do at the beginning of the book.

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