for The Mysterious Edge of the Heroic World
by E.L. Konigsburg
Twelve-year-old Amadeo Kaplan has just moved to Florida with his mother, next door to a rambling old mansion occupied by a reclusive old woman named Mrs. Zenger. She has old-world ideas about the way things should work, but Amadeo is drawn to her and her odd assortment of possessions. He learns that William Wilcox, one of his new classmates, is the son of the woman handling Mrs. Zender’s estate sale, and when William asks Amadeo to help him sort and label objects, he jumps at the chance. Mrs. Zender loves recalling her glorious past as an opera singer and a member of high society and Amadeo likes to listen, for the most part. His keen attention to detail helps him recognize an art masterpiece among Mrs. Zender’s possessions, and he and William piece together a mystery related to its provenance that shows Mrs. Zender’s past wasn’t entirely glorious. In the process, Amadeo also uncovers some mysteries about his own family history. How his family history intertwines with that of Mrs. Zender makes for an intriguing twist that spirals back to World War II, when a gay art dealer in Holland facing persecution by the Nazis managed to save both his younger brother and some of the “degenerate” art that the German’s sought to steal or destroy. Some of the characters in this complex novel first appeared in Konigburg’s earlier works Throwing Shadows (Atheneum, 1979) and The Outcasts of 19 Schuyler Place (Atheneum, 2004). (Ages 11–14)
CCBC Choices 2008. © Cooperative Children's Book Center, Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison, 2008. Used with permission.
"ninety percent of who you are is invisible."
Amedeo Kaplan seems just like any other new kid who has moved into the town of St. Malo, Florida, a navy town where new faces are the norm. But Amedeo has a secret, a dream: More than anything in the world, he wants to discover something -- a place, a process, even a fossil -- some treasure that no one realizes is there until he finds it. And he would also like to discover a true friend to share these things with.
William Wilcox seems like an unlikely candidate for friendship: an aloof boy who is all edges and who owns silence the way other people own words. When Amedeo and William find themselves working together on a house sale for Amedeo's eccentric neighbor, Mrs. Zender, Amedeo has an inkling that both his wishes may come true. For Mrs. Zender's mansion is crammed with memorabilia of her long life, and there is a story to go with every piece. Soon the boys find themselves caught up in one particular story -- a story that links a sketch, a young boy's life, an old man's reminiscence, and a painful secret dating back to the outrages of Nazi Germany. It's a story that will take them to the edge of what they know about heroism and the mystery of the human heart.
Two-time Newbery winner E. L. Konigsburg spins a magnificent tale of art, discovery, friendship, history, and truth.
Publisher description retrieved from Google Books.