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E. L. Konigsburg – Throwing Shadows

September 9, 2008

111. Throwing Shadows by E. L. Konigsburg (1979)

Length: 152 pages

Genre: Short Stories; Children’s/Young Adult

Started: 09 September 2008, once I got home from work
Finished: 09 September 2008, less than an hour and fifteen minutes later

Summary: Five short stories from five different narrators (mostly boys, and mostly in the neighborhood of twelve years old) give various perspectives on chance meetings, the way we affect each other’s lives, self-awareness, and growing up. There’s a shark-tooth-hunter who meets a know-it-all retired university president; a young boy who can’t stay out of trouble, no matter now innocent his motives; an Ecuadoran tour guide who changes the life of a boy from a small village; a boy with a broken arm who gets roped into listening to the life story of an eccentric old woman; and a young boy and his mother who find a treasure amongst the clutter of antique sales.

Review: From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler is one of my absolute children’s favorites (enough so that I can still spell Frankweiler correctly, two decades after I read it for the first time), but I’d never read any of Konigsburg’s other work. (I didn’t know she even *had* other books until about a year ago – for shame, librarians of my childhood!) In any case, I was hoping for more of the same magic out of Throwing Shadows, but unfortunately none of these stories really captured me. It may be that I’m too old, it may be that the stories themselves are too dated, or it may be that I didn’t really identify with any of the narrators. Konigsburg does an excellent job of capturing five distinct and believable voices in each of her five stories, but none of them were voices that really spoke to me. 3 out of 5 stars.

Recommendation: Not a lot of time investment is needed for this one, and it’s well-written, but it hasn’t aged particularly well, so by this point I think it’s mostly for the Kongisburg completeist.

This Review on LibraryThing | This Book on LibraryThing | This Book on Amazon

Other Reviews: I can’t find any at any of my normal book-bloggy hangouts. Have you reviewed it and I missed it? Let me know!

First Line: My Dad is Hixon of Hixon’s Landing, the fishing camp down on the intracoastal waterway just across Highway A1A.


  • p. 11: “We crossed A1A and got down onto the beach from a path people had worn between the dunes, and I showed him how to look for sharks’ teeth in the coquina.” – a small clam, Donax variabilis, abundant in the intertidal zone of eastern and southern U.S. coastal beaches, having fanlike bands of various hues, the paired empty shells often spread in a butterfly shape.
  • p. 114: “Between threats and pleas – if you don’t go back to work, we’ll shoot you, and please go back to work and we’ll forgive you – the radio played waltzes and czardas and so on and so forth.” – a Hungarian national dance in two movements, one slow and the other fast.
3 Comments leave one →
  1. September 9, 2008 11:17 pm

    Give Silent to the Bone a try! I read it when I was teaching, and I recall liking it and recommending it to my students. It was one of my better circulators amongst my not-so-strong readers.

  2. September 10, 2008 7:46 am

    Jena – Thanks for the recommendation! I’ve got The View from Saturday and Father’s Arcane Daughter on my TBR pile, but I hadn’t heard of Silent to the Bone – I’ll have to see if I can pick it up somewhere.

    [ETA: Okay, there were several available copies on BookMooch, so it’s been mooched!]

    • aria permalink
      December 9, 2010 2:38 pm

      the view from saturday has to be my absolute favorite of konigsburg’s books. you must read it if you still haven’t. i read it as a kid and still re-read it occasionally as a twenty-something. father’s arcane daughter is pretty amazing too and jennifer, hecate, (i can’t remember what’s the rest of the title, just the end: and me, elizabeth) is also amazing. journey to an 800 number is also a fun read. oh, and one of her recent books is also a new favorite, the outcasts of schuyler place? i can’t remember the exact title, but i loved it. e.l. konigsburg’s one of my all-time favorite young adult writers and it’s amazing how much you can get from a thin book written for kids even as you’re older.

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