I have always heard that an artist’s work becomes much more popular and valuable after the artist has died.  Is that true of writers as well?  E. L. Konigsburg passed away last month.  I had read, probably, one of her books as a child, From the Mixed up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler; my daughter and I read it this year as well (note to self, add to blog).  I had also read The View from Saturday as an adult and again with my daughter (http://blog.thehappyreaders.com/the-view-from-saturday/).  So, when I read her obituary, I realized there were many more books that I had to read.

I picked up The Outcasts of 19 Schuyler Place at the library.  I started to read the inside cover one night and it said that it was the companion piece to Silent to the Bone. Off to the library I went the next morning.  I read Silent to the Bone first.  I loved the characters in the book, they are smart.  However, the story is a bit grown-up for a 10 year old.  Branwell Zamborska cannot speak, he has been struck dumb after his baby sister, Nikki,  had an accident and is in a coma.  The babysitter tells the EMTs that Branwell shook and dropped the baby.  The baby is in the hospital and Branwell is in a Juvenile Behavioral Center.  The only one who can communicate with Branwell is his best friend, Connor.  Connor, with the help of Margaret, his half sister, find ways to communicate with Branwell so they can figure out exactly what happened to Nikki.  It is a good story, but lots of mature subject matter.

Front CoverI wasn’t sure what to expect from The Outcasts of 19 Schuyler Place, after Silent to the Bone.  I really enjoyed it, and the subject matter was much more appropriate for a 10 year old, and it was not necessary to read Silent to the Bone first.  Margaret (the half sister from Bone) is 12 and is sent to summer camp while her parents go to Peru for an archaelogical dig.  She is having a miserable time at summer camp because the girls are mean to her.  The camp director reluctantly lets her go home with her great uncles Alex and Morris – who have been building ‘the towers’ in their backyard for 40 years.  The towers are made of scrap metal, glass and porcelain.  They are beautiful and all Margaret knows of her uncles backyard.  Then, the yuppies move into the neighborhood and try to get the towers removed.  Margaret must fight to save the towers, and she does fight.  This is a great book, I love how Margaret has enough confidence to stand up for herself and for her uncles.  A great role model.

“Every now and then, a person must do something simply because he wants to, because it seems to him worth doing. And that does not make it worthless or a waste of time.”

There are many more E.L. Konigsburg books to read – stay tuned.

Happy Reading!