I remember the feeling I got the first time I read E. L. Konigsburg’s The View from Saturday. It was a combination of pleasure, respect, and inspiration. “I want to do that,” I thought.
The book combines the stories of four sixth graders and their teacher, weaving each kid’s experiences with an Academic Bowl tournament—a version of Slumdog Millionaire set some 12 years earlier, in Upstate New York, among middle schoolers. It is heartwarming and brilliant.
After reading the book, I knew I wanted to be a novelist.
E. L. Konigsburg’s work has always been an inspiration to me. She’s not afraid to take risks. She’s written for all age groups; has focused on multiple genres; and is a true craftsman, willing to bend forms and try something new. Even if one of her stories does not grab me entirely, I still know that what I’m reading is well written.
The View from Saturday in particular was a revelation. It taught me that a children’s books can follow multiple view points, weave a complex plot, and adults can play a role. It can also be literate, intelligent, and sometimes pull at your heartstrings. And more than anything else, it can be wonderful.