By E. L. Konigsburg, published 1996
“When I told Tillie that six steps seemed a lot to have to do before you begin, she said, “You must think of those six steps not as preparation for the beginning but as the beginning itself.”
To get right to the point about this children’s book, it is an absolute treasure. I had read one other children’s book by this author, but it hardly prepared me for this book. There are so many things I love about the book. It is creatively arranged, so that each main character in the book gets to tell their own story, in their voice. There is the presence of their teacher, who teaches from a wheelchair, and is herself transformed by the children. Finally, the content of the story is intellectually stimulating, as we watch the foursome participate and win an academic competition.
All of the above would make a good children’s book. However, what makes this book great is that we completely dive into the depth of a child’s view of the world. These children have exceptional sensitivity to others that is quite unexpected, and often very moving. At the same time, since they are kids, there are many elements of humor.
I could not put this book down, and would hope that any sixth grade student can get access to this children’s book. There are several study guides available as well, so it can be used in the classroom or for homeschooling. I encourage parents to read this children’s book as well; it will inspire you.