Book Review: The Outcasts of 19 Schuyler Place


“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. It’s true, the towers have no function. They do not give shelter. Neither does the statue of David. They don’t hold up telephone wires. Neither does the Eiffel Tower. And the rose windows of Notre Dame don’t let in enough light to read fine print. But by my definition, that doesn’t make them useless or superfluous either. The towers are there simply because they are worth doing. Without them, my world would be less beautiful and a lot less fun.”

~E. L. Konigsburg

Lenore Skenazy over at Free Range Kids was the first to introduce me to the author, E. L Konigsburg. I have read several of her books to my boys and I highly recommend her work.

Our latest read was The Outcasts of 19 Schuyler Place. Margaret Rose is the main character in this book and she is a kid who gets herself kicked out of summer camp because she “would prefer not to” participate in any of the activities.

She has good reasons to dislike summer camp. Her cabin is filled with a cliquish group of girls who make it their summer project to haze the new camper. Margaret takes only so much before she finds a way out.

She ends up spending the rest of the summer with her two eccentric uncles. They’re artists and have built three towers in the backyard from recycled materials. The city decides that the towers must be removed. Margaret makes it her own personal cause to save the towers from destruction.

This book certainly is free range. Margaret Rose goes to the library and city hall alone. Kids challenge authority and win.

I loved this book and my kids enjoyed it too.

We’d love to know what you and your kids are reading.  Have you read anything that encouraged independence and taking risks?