Monday, September 4, 2017
Reviews from the Children's Section - The Saturdays and The Four Story Mistake
The Saturdays by Elizabeth Enright - And so we meet the Melendy family. There's Mona, age 13, Rush age 12, 10 year old Randy, and 6 year old Oliver. They all live in New York City in 1939 and at the opening of the book are bored. This prompts a brilliant idea by Randy to pool their allowances so that they can each do what they really want to do instead of having to make due with just what each child gets a week. The only rule is they must do something fun with the money and so adventures ensue. And the adventures are a delight. Each child gets their turn and it was fun to see what they each wanted to do. My favorite story was Randy's meeting with Mrs. Oliphant whom the children had deemed boring but turned out to be wonderful with a fascinating back story. There's talk of art and music and theater and there's a little bit of danger but only in the safest of ways. That being said the rest of the book is pure joy and just so much fun. I loved getting to know the children and going on their adventure with them. Rating: Loved It!
The Four Story Mistake by Elizabeth Enright - The Melendys have moved to the country to live in a funny house with a cupola at the top. I read and reread this book as a child until my copy literally fell apart. My dream is to have a house with a cupola that I can spend the night in and read books while it's storming. But anyway - back to the book! While The Saturdays was essentially four short stories with some connecting bits this book is much more of an ensemble cast. The children have their own adventures but are also frequently together. While they do get along better than real siblings do all is not perfect which is pretty fun to see. I particularly love the relationship between Mona and Rush - those two can drive each other crazy! They have all kinds of fun adventures - including one that involves an alligator and one that involves a long ago mystery (needless to say - this was my favorite part). We see more of Cuffy, housekeeper extraordinaire, and I enjoyed watching her interact with the children - especially Oliver. While I love The Saturdays, I'm glad I was introduced to the family with this book. It's still my favorite and has a timeless quality that I think most readers will appreciate. Rating: Loved It!
Both of these books were published in the 1940s so there are a few terms that would get an eyebrow raise today but not so many that it takes over the book. As a parent I do appreciate that there is some parental guidance and they do ask permission. However, Father and Cuffy are very much background characters so the children get up to the adventures on their own which appeals to children.
I think children who enjoy adventure stories would enjoy this series - especially around the age 7 to 9. The writing is well done and the stories are delightful but since I fell in love with the children as a child I can't really say how it translates for readers finding these books as adults (though I suspect they'd enjoy them too!).