Heather's Reviews > The Saturdays

The Saturdays by Elizabeth Enright
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's review
Jul 02, 11

really liked it
bookshelves: kids-ya, library-books
Read from June 19 to 22, 2011 , read count: 2

"It would have to rain today," said Rush, lying flat on his back in front of the fire. "On a Saturday. Certainly. Naturally. Of course. What else would you expect? Good weather is for Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday; and rain's for Saturday and Sunday, and Christmas vacation and Easter."

"Oh, Rush, do stop grousing," said Mona, turning a page peacefully. She wasn't even listening to what he said; all she heard was the grumble in his voice. (3)

Thus starts The Saturdays, Enright's first book about the Melendy family, and I was won over immediately. Enright does dialogue well, and captures her characters' emotions well, too—excitement and boredom and annoyance and anger. The illustrations (also by Enright) are charming, and the setting (NYC in 1941) is exciting. The book's opening made me want to read the whole book aloud (though I didn't) and also just made me grin. I kept grinning as I learned more about the Melendy kids: Mona (who's thirteen), Rush (who's twelve), Randy (short for Miranda; she's ten and a half), and Oliver (who's six). They live in a brownstone in NYC with their dad and with Cuffy, who's their cook/housekeeper/nurse (their mother's dead, but that's not a central plot issue). On the rainy Saturday that starts the book, the kids decide to start pooling their allowances so they can take turns doing something exciting on future Saturdays: they call their plan the Independent Saturday Afternoon Adventure Club, and each one starts planning what he or she will do when it's his or her turn (though Oliver, of course, is deemed too young to actually go out and do anything by himself).

As the book continues, we get to see what each kid chooses to do on his or her Saturday; Oliver even has quite an adventure of his own. (All the kids are sweet and funny, but Oliver's totally my favorite, whether he's drawing battleships that look like teapots or nonchalantly asking police officers for directions: one police officer asks if he's a little young to be out by himself, and Oliver just says "No, I don't think so," and keeps going.) But the book isn't just plot-driven excitement or getting to know the characters: there are also lots of really satisfying descriptive passages. Enright writes about how things look or smell or sound in a way that's concrete and delightful; passages like this reminded me of similarly satisfying bits in some of my favorite kids' books, particularly L.M. Boston's Green Knowe series:
[The rain] plinked and splashed and ran in long curly streams down the skylight. The windows were speckled and running, and occasional drops even fell down the chimney and hissed into the fire. All the city sounds that could be heard above the rain were wet sounds; the long whish of passing automobiles, damp clopping of horses' hoofs, and the many voices, deep, or high, or husky, that came hooting and whistling out of the murky rivers at either side of the city. (4)

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