E. L. Konigsburg – Throwing Shadows
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.
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.