The Barnes & Noble Review
In this can't-miss follow-up to E. L. Konigsburg's Silent to the Bone, the Newbery Medalwinning author focuses her attention on the history of Margaret Rose Kane, Connor's half sister, taking readers back to 1983 and Margaret's surefooted effort to keep her uncles' towers from being destroyed.
In the same gentle but powerful tone that resonates through all of her work, Konigsburg begins her novel with Uncle Alex retrieving Margaret from Camp Talequa, where she's had a less-than-pleasurable experience with the cliquish girls in the Meadowlark cabin. After Margaret and Uncle Alex are driven home by the camp director's son -- whom she soon befriends as a fellow fan of the towers -- they and Uncle Morris become embroiled in a fight to rescue the towers from nasty neighbors worried about property values. Thankfully, old neighborhood friends now in powerful and useful positions are willing to help, and when the Meadowlark girls get called up for activist duty, the towers are rescued by being given a practical use that reflects the change in the times.
Delving into the psychology of a neighborhood, old ways versus modernization, and culture's beneficial effect on society, Konigsburg's Outcasts hits an even stronger note than Silent to the Bone. The author weaves together plot strands that leave your sense of justice satisfied at the end, while her main character, Margaret, is a determined girl who makes you root for her all the way. Thoughtful and riveting. Shana Taylor
There are a handful of authors writing for pre- and early-teen readers whose books are so quirkily original, so airily intelligent, that a single paragraph can make a jaded reviewer's spirits rise. They include Betsy Byars, Polly Horvath, Richard Peck, Daniel Pinkwater, Britain's William Mayne and, of course, E.L. Konigsburg, who won the Newbery medal in 1968 for From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler and again 29 years later for The View From Saturday. Konigsburg's latest could make her a triple winner. Elizabeth Ward
Rarely have the horrors of girls' camp been so delectably delineated: the treacly sweet control freak of a camp director, the endless group activities, the vileness of a gang of bullying queen bees and alpha girls. Not to mention their followers, who have moral backbones made of marshmallow … Outcasts is a beautifully written, witty tale with subtle, sometimes sardonic and bittersweet elements. Deirdre Donahue
Two-time Newbery medalist Konigsburg spins a riveting tale with endearing characters. Margaret Rose, freshly sprung from summer camp, spends the remainder of the season with her riotously funny senior-citizen uncles. But when their gentrified neighborhood demands that they tear down their, well, unusual, yard art made of scrap metal, Margaret springs into action. (Ages 8 to 12)
Child magazine's Best Children's Book Awards 2004
Margaret, who played a supporting role in Silent to the Bone, here helps her uncles save their prized towers. In our Best Books citation, PW wrote, "The author once again ably demonstrates how one young person can make a difference." Ages 10-up. (Jan.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
At Camp Talequa, twelve-year-old Margaret Rose Kane, first encountered as an adult in Silent to the Bone (Atheneum/S & S, 2000/VOYA December 2000), is an outcast. Dumped by her parents while they travel in Peru, she refuses to follow rules or to participate in camp activities. Her habit of quoting Melville's Bartleby"I prefer not to"infuriates her snooty cabin mates as well as the camp director. Rescued by her doting great-uncles, Alexander and Morris Rose, Margaret settles in at 19 Schuyler Place, and plans to spend the summer being wonderfully indulged in her favorite place. Instead she finds that her adored great-uncles are neighborhood outcasts because of the Towers. These delightfully curmudgeonly great-uncles have spent the past forty-five years constructing three huge towers of scrap metal, glass, and porcelain shards in their small garden. Their neighbors have declared the towers to be a blight on the landscape, and the city council has ordered that they be destroyed. Margaret now has a cause worthy of her talent. With the help of a few eccentric adults, the campaign to save the towers begins. An incomparable author takes a wise and witty look at some large issues such as bureaucratic tyranny, the nature of art, and the freedom of the individual. Readers will cheer Margaret's efforts to save the towers, because even those without credit cards and driver's licenses can "change future history." Konigsburg creates a novel that is astonishing in conception and flawless in execution, a glorious mix of slapstick and heartbreak that will remain in the reader's mind and heart. VOYA Codes 5Q 3P M J (Hard to imagine it being any better written; Will appeal with pushing; MiddleSchool, defined as grades 6 to 8; Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9). 2004, Simon & Schuster, 304p., Ages 11 to 15.
Jamie S. Hansen
Her parents have gone to Peru for the summer, and twelve-year-old Margaret Rose Kane is miserable at Camp Talequa. The camp's counselors and nurse have come to call her "incorrigible," which is even worse than their initial assessment of "uncooperative." The girls in her cabin have banded together to bend Margaret Rose to their will through an assortment of cruel jokes and pranks. All of this has only served to strengthen Margaret's resolve not to back down. Into this stand-off comes Uncle Alexander! He has come to collect the girl and bring her back to 19 Schuyler Place, the home he shares with Uncle Morris. To Margaret, this only makes sense. She loves her eccentric Hungarian great-uncles dearly, and staying with them had been one of her top choices for how to spend the summer in the first place. Quickly, though, she learns just why she had not been brought to 19 Schuyler Place sooner. For more than forty years, the uncles have been constructing three towers in their backyard out of scrap metal, bits of glass, and porcelain. Now, the towers have been declared a "blight" on the community, and city council has vowed to have them removed. The uncles didn't want Margaret Rose to see the towers torn down. Margaret doesn't want to see that, either. And so she sets about saving them. Award-winning author E. L. Konigsburg is in top form in this compelling story about identity, self-expression, and, ultimately, survival. Readers familiar with her Silent to the Bone will welcome the return of Margaret Rose Kane to the printed page, and those just coming to Konigsburg's work will surely find themselves looking for more! 2004, Atheneum, Ages 10 to 14.
Heidi Hauser Green
Gr 6-9-In Silent to the Bone (Atheneum, 2000), a grown-up Margaret Rose Kane helps her half brother, Connor, solve the mystery of why his best friend can't speak. Outcasts is her remembrance of her 12th summer. Pitched into camp by her parents while they travel in Peru, she is tormented by cliquish cabin mates and adopts a passive-aggressive stance that infuriates the overly rigid and money-grasping camp director. Rescued by her beloved elderly uncles and taken to their home, Margaret is appalled to discover that the city has ordered the soaring, artistic towers they have created in the backyard to be taken down because they don't adhere to the strictures of the now-historic district. Stung by the idea that real history and a work of art could be destroyed by profit-seeking interest groups manipulating governmental regulations, Margaret swings into action to fight an even larger tyranny than the one she had encountered at camp. Delicious irony permeates the story, with Margaret citing words from idealistic documents and then relating the reality. The plot is well paced and has excellent foreshadowing. Konigsburg's characters are particularly well motivated, from the camp director who gives herself airs to hide well-earned insecurities to her seemingly mentally challenged son who is actually an intellectual as well as an artist. Most wonderfully rendered through dialogue are the Hungarian-American Jewish uncles, crotchety with age, but full of love and life and a sure understanding of what it means to be an individual American. Funny and thought-provoking by turns, this is Konigsburg at her masterful best.-Cindy Darling Codell, Clark Middle School, Winchester, KY Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Master novelist Konigsburg hones her sense of irony to a razor edge in this exploration of the backstory behind one of Silent to the Bone's secondary characters: Connor's older half-sister Margaret. Margaret, 12, has just been rescued from her authoritarian summer camp by her eccentric great-uncles. She is delighted to leave the tender offices of her vicious bunk-mates and the camp director's insistence on lockstep enjoyment of all camp activities; she is monumentally alarmed to discover that her beloved uncles' backyard Tower Garden, a fantasy of steel and glass, is slated for demolition, a victim of historical zoning. Determined to save the towers, Margaret begins a campaign informed by civil disobedience (in which camp has made her proficient: "I prefer not to," says she) and civic involvement. This story condescends not one whit to its audience, passionately confronting readers with the critical importance of history, art, beauty, community, love, and, above all, the necessity to invest oneself in meaningful action. This it does with every word in place, occasionally indulging in dizzying linguistic riffs, always conscious of the ironies inherent in the acts of living and growing up. (Fiction. 10+)
"[One of] Spring's Best Kid's Books."
"A thing of strange beauty."
New York Times Book Review
"Literate, funny, and inspiring."
"Elegant, absorbing...a veritable feast."
Publishers Weekly, starred review
"Konigsburg at her masterful best."
School Library Journal, starred review