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Journey to an 800 Number

3.45  ·  Rating details ·  263 Ratings  ·  35 Reviews
Bo learns about kindness, love, loyalty, appearances, and pretense from the unusual characters he meets when he is sent to live with his father after hi mother decides to remarry.
Hardcover, 138 pages
Published January 1st 1982 by Atheneum Books
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Oct 17, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not my favorite of the E.L. Konigsburg books. (I love Father's Arcane Daughter.) But a fun read. My favorite paragraph?

narrated by a pre-teen boy:
"I had to go to four trailers [because he's lost and looking for directions] before I found one lady-of-the house at home. She had a small baby and was actually nursing the baby when she answered the door. I had never seen anything like that in my life and I must say that it didn't give me a very high opinion of the trailer park class of people. To nu
Katie Fitzgerald
This review also appears on my blog, Read-at-Home Mom.

E.L. Konigsburg is one strange lady. I've read enough of her books by now to know to expect some weirdness, but I think Journey to an 800 Number is by far her most unusual book. And also possibly one of the best.

Rainbow Maximillian Stubbs (sometimes called Bo, and sometimes called Max) normally lives with his mother, but she has just married a rich man named F. Hugo Malatesta the First and is on her honeymoon. Bo is therefore sent to travel w
This is the second E.L. Konigsburg book I've read, and there's something very peculiar about her writing style. I can't put my finger on it. There's a real 80s-ish feel to it all, which sounds strange, but there's a real sense of children's books that were written in the late 70s to the early 90s.

So the narrator of our novel, Max/Bo, suffers from Little Man Syndrome in that he's about 12 years old, and he's simultaneously much older for his age and much younger. He's a pretentious little shit w
Dec 29, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was pleasantly surprised with this book. It was very cute and a fast read. I thought the main character was drawn very well and his awkwardness really added to the story without being too uncomfortable. I'm a big fan of Konisberg! I've yet to read something by her I didn't like.
Cassandra Clarke
This book had the greatest description of the Texas summer sun I have ever read:

"It didn't look like ordinary light. It looked as though if you touched it, it would punch you back."

Aug 12, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: middle-grade
I don't know if today's kids would enjoy this quirky book from 1982 by the author of The Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler. They probably don't even know what an "800 Number" is. There are too many coincidences and it doesn't really make sense, but it is always surprising, weird and imaginative. And I added one star for Ahmed the camel.
James Vachowski
Jan 11, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-boys-like
The late, great E.L. Konigsburg wrote at least fifteen books during her time. She’s best known for “From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler”, which is a staple on school reading lists. Don’t get me wrong, I loved that book too, but today I want to highlight my absolute favorite book of hers, “Journey to an 800 Number”. This is one of those books where I got to the end and couldn’t tell exactly what I had just read, but I sure knew that I had enjoyed it!

Maximillian “Bo” Stubbs is a p
I'm happy to read anything written by Konigsburg because her kid characters are smart and sassy, and her plot twists are original. The premise of this book is a bit ridiculous, though. Maxmillian "Bo" Stubbs is sent to spend the summer with his small-town camel-exhibitor father while his mother is on her honeymoon with the rich man she married in order to pay Max's tuition to his hoity-toity private school. During his summer in middle America, he meets Sabrina, a girl whose mom sneaks them into ...more
Apr 08, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition

Young Max is furious that his mother has dumped him on his camel-driving father for the summer, while she is off honeymooning with a much older husband. Barely civil to his eager father
because of his vagabond existence and his lowlife companions,
Max learns more valuable lessons on the road than he did at the fancy private school he attends.

As he makes the rounds of malls, fairs and conventions with his father, Max discovers how to identify Real people from the c
Apr 13, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
As with all of E.L. Konigsburg's stories, this one is populated with strong, fiercely independent characters that, regardless of their few years of life, stand up well on their own two feet and are possessed of a formidable intellect to analyze the happenings and the people around them with wit, honesty, and a high level of smarts.
There was a lot of good material in Journey to an 800 Number, lined with sapient insights that ornament the text beautifully and make me appreciate the masterful ski
Mar 17, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Maxmillian(also known as Bo)Stubbs has a mother who recently married a rather rich man. he is very much looking forward to moving into his new stepfathers huge house and going to a snotty kids school called, Fortnum, in the fall. everything in his life will be first class, just like the new navy Fortnum school blazer. but when his mom is on her honeymoon he spends a month with his father, Woody, a camel-keeper who entertains at malls and many conventions around the continental states. woody is o ...more
Apr 25, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not so much a journey to an 800 number, but more coincidentally bumping into an 800 number. Another story of a stuck up preppy kid being brought down to earth, which would have been tiring had it not been told with the humor of E.L. Konigsburg.

The theme of this book is that we all pretend to be something else throughout the course of our lives. Which is very similar of the theme of secrets in From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs Basil E. Frankweiler, but not quite.

Oct 03, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2010
First book I've read by this author. Some of the jokes are pretty dated; I think on the whole it feels older than it really is. Sort of like the protagonist, a snotty East-coast preppie type who spends the summer riding around with his itinerant camel-driving father in flyover country. There are some interesting revelations at the end, but the book is so short there's not enough time to build up to them. I liked the message, but the book reads like there are four more chapters that got left out ...more
Oct 03, 2010 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I'm sure this review is completely unecessary because your library probably doesn't even have a copy, but this book is NOT recommended. It's a shame to have to deal with this in fourth grade, but Mary's reading group was supposed to read it. When she came home with concerns about bad words, I checked it out, and it has much more than just bad words. Nothing an elementary school student should be reading, anyway.

Update: Mary's teacher wasn't aware of the content, so she's changed their book and t
This is the kind of book I would probably write, if someone commissioned me to write a middle-grade novel. From what I can remember of this book from the one time I read it a little over three years ago, it was quirky and slight with engaging characters and Konigsburg's usual wonderful writing. The plot itself wasn't much--laden with tropes, serviced with generalizations, generally predictable--but it worked well enough. Three stars.
Aug 03, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition

I'm a big fan of Konigsburg's other works and I pleasantly enjoyed this book! E.L. Konisburg's characters are always sassy, sometimes snarky but otherwise fun. This is a story of friendship and love between some very different people. I'd recommend this book for just a joy - read and cherish and also, when your kids are grown (whenever they're ready), recommend it to them. Hope you enjoy!
Aug 13, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: young-adult, novel
Entertaining, but definitely on a different level than her award-winning books (which are some of my favorites, like _Mixed-Up Files_). Perhaps the characters needed to be more fully fleshed out, and some of the situations seemed rushed - one of the things I enjoyed best about Mixed-Up is that things were really well-thought out and the story helped develop the characters.
more kids than YA, but good for a younger YA pick. while i love Konigsburg (the two other books i've read by her), this was not my favorite, though quite fine. though i find it's quite nice to find an author enamoured of eccentric characters.
Lisa the Librarian
I am a big fan of the author, but found this book to be the weakest of any of hers.

Meant to be a bit of an epic journey between father and son, it felt a bit flat and predictable. I was disappointed
Feb 28, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
I always remembered that I loved Konigsburg. And I could never remember why. But judging from this and Throwing's his faith in the goodness of people?
Sep 07, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Quick read. Hit or miss at parts, sometimes entertaining and insightful, sometimes exasperating. Could have been done better, and with a more complete ending, but a book kids will enjoy.
Jan 04, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: juvenile, fiction
My son continues to read us through E. L. Konigsburg.. This time it is a tale of self-discovery by an early teen-aged boy who meets up with an intriguing daughter-mother duo.
Sep 01, 2015 rated it liked it
I vaguely remember this book, I think it had belonged to one of my older sisters. I just remember the camel name Ahmed.
May 08, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
pretty good. you cant just skim it. you have to actually read it otherwise things wont make sense.
Jan 07, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A sweet story about a boy who is trying to both figure out who he is and how to be a child of each of his estranged parents.
Aug 23, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Boring. Dull. Same old story.
May 03, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: middle-6-8
Heather Willis
Apr 14, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: eled
Open ending without much explanation, contemporary realistic fiction. Boys father sells camel rides.
What a quirky book! It was a quick, intriguing read, but there was swearing, and that always turns me off, esp in a children's book!
Sep 16, 2008 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
reeally hard to get into , but an okay story
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Elaine Lobl Konigsburg was an American author and illustrator of children's books and young adult fiction. She was the only author to win the Newbery Medal and a Newbery Honor in the same year (1968), with her second and first books respectively: From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler and Jennifer, Hecate, Macbeth, William McKinley, and Me, Elizabeth. Kongisburg won a second Newbery ...more
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