The Outcasts of 19 Schuyler Place

by E. L. Konigsburg

Paperback, 2006



Local notes

PB Kon




Atheneum Books for Young Readers (2006), Edition: Reprint, 304 pages


Upon leaving an oppressive summer camp, twelve-year-old Margaret Rose Kane spearheads a campaign to preserve three unique towers her grand uncles have been building in their back yard for over forty years.


Original language


Original publication date


Physical description

304 p.; 5.13 inches

User reviews

LibraryThing member rachelellen
I found that this book started out really strong, and lost it a bit at the end. However, again, I'm out of the target audience, and I think a middle-school girl might feel differently about the ending than I do.

If you care, I'm about to spoil the ending here; be warned.

I thought the initial camp
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scenes were excellent. I bitterly hated the brats who tormented Margaret, I really did, and they all had faces drawn from my own elementary-school and junior high days. In the middle of the story, I pretty much forgot about them, and found myself (as a lifelong resident of a once-sleepy but still-small town) identifying heartily with the main character's frustration at uppity newcomers to her fictional hometown of Epiphany, New York, who want to raze her great-uncles' life work, an artistic trio of towers in their backyard, because of concerns about property values. So when the bratty camp girls came back into the story, I rubbed my hands a little, thinking that in some way or another they were about to Get Theirs. I wanted to see abject humiliation. I wanted to see, I dunno, maybe a little blood (me, bitter?). What I did not want was to see them become, essentially, heroes who help save the towers. No no no. Nooooo. This is not a terribly realistic reaction, because, well, isn't that what any mature, thinking, Christian person would love to see happen -- villains turning into "good guys"? And hey, real life villains, y'all have my permission to turn your lives around and save a local landmark near you, more power to you, really. It's not nearly so satisfying in fiction, though.
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LibraryThing member AltheaAnn
"I picked this up because I'd read several of Konigsburg's books when I was very young, and really liked them, esp. "Jennifer, Hecate, Macbeth, William McKinley, and Me, Elizabeth" and "From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler."
What struck me though, is that although this book is
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marketed as a kids' book, probably because that's what the author is known for, it really isn't. Although the protagonist is 12, the story is told from the point of view of an adult looking back at being 12, not from the point of view of a 12-year-old, and I think that really shows in the themes of the book.
The protagonist, Margaret's parents is sent to summer camp while her parents are away on a trip. She was looking forward to it, but when she turns out to be the 'new girl' in a cabin of girls who already know each other, things don't start out that well and they rapidly get worse. Luckily, one of her two eccentric bachelor uncles shows up to face down the unsympathetic camp director and rescue her from the bullying. Margaret's delighted, because she really wanted to spend the summer with her uncles anyway, helping them work on the amazing sculpture towers in their back yard. Unfortunately, neighborhood gentrification has set in, and the towers are scheduled for demolition. The uncles think the situation is hopeless, but Margaret can't just let it happen...
This is not a perfect book. The summer camp segment at the beginning is kinda typical; and too long. And I felt that the 'redemption' of the bullying girls later in the book is too easy, and doesn't 'ring true.'
However, I read the whole thing in one sitting - I couldn't put it down. And it really stands out as a novel for the author's refusal to make things black & white, or to go with the easy 'happy ending.' People here are nuanced, with shaded layers of motivations; we feel that they are real people, even when we only glimpse them in passing. It deals deftly and accurately with picturing a young woman's first feelings of love, shows that one can and must do something about issues that one cares about - but also acknowledges the reality that even when you 'win,' not everything is likely to be perfect.
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LibraryThing member sriemann
I picked this up today and finished it today - the main character is so amusingly 'incorrigible' and different from the status quo, as well as her uncles. She is an 'old soul' in a young girl's body, and her strength of character/principles are refreshing. The plot flows effortlessly, and the
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ending could become a good conversation topic - is it truly a good ending for all? Konigsburg's characters are different - but the differences make them unique and interest-grabbing.
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LibraryThing member bookczuk
E.L. Konigsburg is the writer I want to be when I grow up. She paints her characters so beautifully, and so realistically. There is always a realisticcenter that the books center around, whether it's 3 towers built by Margaret Rose Kane's two uncles, an academic bowl (The View from Saturday), or my
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very favorite From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs Basil E Frankweiler, where two children run away, and end up living in a museum.

Like her other books, this one deals with a 12 year old beginning to understand her world, and come to terms with some of the things life brings, finding answers to questions etc. How this kid deals with arrogance and ignorance, both in the form of various adults (though she stumbles on some great ones, too, and with some adolescent bullies, was well handled. My big complaint? As a folk artist, I loved the idea of the towers Margaret Rose's uncles built but wish I could see them in reality, not just my mind's eye.

PS Noticed that Charleston SC, my hometown, is actually mentioned in the story! Twice!
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LibraryThing member spartyliblover
Margaret Rose "prefers not to participate" at camp and is rescued by her grand uncle who brings her to 19 Schuyler Place where the towers her grand uncles have built are about to be destroyed. Margaret, her uncles, and Jake, the camp directors son, are the most developed characters and are easy to
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love. The story has a plot that flows to a peak that climaxes almost at the end, but leaves enough time to allow for closure. The setting is a small, dying town called Epiphany, where most of the people have moved into the suburbs and want to preserve the downtown as historic. The person reading the book on the cd is alright, but leaves the listener with the desire to actually read the book instead of listen to it. This is a great book about growing up and would be great in a public library.
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LibraryThing member bluesalamanders
It starts at summer camp, where Margaret Rose decides not to participate and Tillie Kaplan just can't understand why, and moves to Margaret's uncles' house, where something isn't right - and when Margaret finds out what it is, she just has to find a way to fix it!

This is a great story. The writing
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is wonderful, of course, and the characters are charming and varied.

It wasn't perfect, though. I never understood why Margaret was at Camp Talequa in the first place. She supposedly carefully selected which summer camp she wanted to go, and yet declines to participate in anything right from the start? I certainly agreed with that decision later, but she didn't even give it a chance.

The end made me sad. But that's not necessarily a flaw.
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LibraryThing member skcramer
After being rescued from a cruel summer camp, twelve-year-old Margaret Rose Kane settles in to spend the summer with her beloved great-uncles and the three amazing towers that occupy their suburban garden. Yet Margaret soon learns that these towers, constructed of steel pipes and pendants of glass
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and porcelain, are in danger of being demolished by the city council because they threaten the “historical integrity” of the neighborhood. Through Konigsberg’s elegant descriptions and the cast of quirky, lovable adults who share their memories of these towers, readers too will grow to love them and cheer Margaret on in her mission to save them. Weaving flashbacks of Margaret’s camp ordeal with her struggle to save the towers, Konigsberg takes on some challenging topics – authoritarianism, civil disobedience, the definition and importance of art and history – but mostly keeps these concepts grounded in the engrossing story. While some may find the ending hinges too heavily on the contributions of Margaret’s adult allies, the novel nevertheless delivers a story the celebrates the power of communal civil disobedience. Recommended for middle-school readers.
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LibraryThing member lilibrarian
Margaret Rose has been sent away to camp for the first time. She is not sure why she couldn't go to Peru with her parents, or stay with her beloved uncles as she usually did. Camp did not go well for Margaret - she did not enjoy the company or the activites. Upon her return home, she discovered why
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her uncles had not wanted her to stay.
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LibraryThing member aprilcm
Margaret Rose is a young girl that finds herself spending the summer with her quirky great-uncles after a failed attempt at summer camp. There is tremendous history in the neighborhood where her great-uncles have lived for decades. When she discovers that the homeowner's association is about to
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remove towers that her uncles have built, she begins her crusade to save the towers. The reader will definitely be drawn into the perseverance one little girl demonstrates for a cause she really believes in. Art is lifted in this book from the eyes of a child, a lawyer, a billboard painter, investors, and former watch makers. There is humor in Margaret's behavior and in the interactions among the characters.
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LibraryThing member kimmclean
Margaret Rose is sent off to summer camp while her parents go to Peru for a month. She finds she is not interested in the activities and constantly tells her counselors that she "prefers not to" do whatever it is she is supposed to be doing. She is put in a cabin with 4 clique girls who are return
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campers who bully her by "wetting" her bed and playing other pranks to get her in trouble. The camp calls her uncle who is her guardian as her parents are away. He comes to camp to find out what is going on and ends of taking her out of the camp to come and stay with he and his brother, her other hungarian uncle. Margaret is excited to see her uncles and glad to leave camp. Her uncles live in a small town called Epiphany in an old house where they built several tall towers in their backyard that the "historical district" homeowners association wants to tear down. Margaret researches the case to try to help her uncles saves the towers. Also, the janitor (also the son of the camp owner) befriends Margaret and paints a rose on the ceiling of her bedroom for her.
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LibraryThing member CupcakeHeartz
I thought this book was 2 stars. It lacked my interest.
LibraryThing member CrayolaCrayon
I liked this book, but not nearly as much as other books E. L. Konigsburg wrote. I didn't particularly love the flashback, I would have liked it better if the book was straight forward. It's an enjoyable book, but I would not recommend reading it out loud as the back and forth is confusing. Also,
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the statements that start beginning sections, such as 'My Uncles' 'Their Garden' and 'The Towers' make it an even more difficult book to read aloud. But, again, it's a very enjoyable book, but mostly if you're reading it to yourself.
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LibraryThing member Jaydot
A story about Bartholt Verstege ("ontvanger generaal van de Graafschap Zutphen"), that starts in July 1769. This Bartholt Verstege is my great-great-etc. grandfather.
I don't know who wrote it, the author is simply "L.E.".
LibraryThing member 4sarad
This book was cute at times and had some good characters and scenes, but it could also get boring. The towers sounded cool, the uncles were cute, but the rest was just sort of "meh."
LibraryThing member StefanieGeeks
This was a lovely take on a coming of age story. Not at all predictable and wonderfully worded. I loved getting to know all of the characters, especially the precocious and charming 12 year old, Margaret Rose.
LibraryThing member chrystal
Grade 6-9-In Silent to the Bone (Atheneum, 2000), a grown-up Margaret Rose Kane helps her half brother, Connor, solve the mystery of why his best friend can't speak. Outcasts is her remembrance of her 12th summer. Pitched into camp by her parents while they travel in Peru, she is tormented by
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cliquish cabin mates and adopts a passive-aggressive stance that infuriates the overly rigid and money-grasping camp director. Rescued by her beloved elderly uncles and taken to their home, Margaret is appalled to discover that the city has ordered the soaring, artistic towers they have created in the backyard to be taken down because they don't adhere to the strictures of the now-historic district. Stung by the idea that real history and a work of art could be destroyed by profit-seeking interest groups manipulating governmental regulations, Margaret swings into action to fight an even larger tyranny than the one she had encountered at camp. Delicious irony permeates the story, with Margaret citing words from idealistic documents and then relating the reality. The plot is well paced and has excellent foreshadowing. Konigsburg's characters are particularly well motivated, from the camp director who gives herself airs to hide well-earned insecurities to her seemingly mentally challenged son who is actually an intellectual as well as an artist. Most wonderfully rendered through dialogue are the Hungarian-American Jewish uncles, crotchety with age, but full of love and life and a sure understanding of what it means to be an individual American. Funny and thought-provoking by turns, this is Konigsburg at her masterful best.
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LibraryThing member franoscar
Young Adult book about a bratty girl who goes to camp, hates camp, comes back home to live with her nutty uncles and helps to save, sort of, the weird towers they built in the back yard. This is a "realistic" book so the hunky guy she has a crush on makes an unpleasant marriage & not everything
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turns out right.
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LibraryThing member rdg301library
Summary: This book tells the story of Margaret who spends the summer with her uncle working to save the towers in their backyard. Itis a great story of fighting for something you want or believe in. The content of the story satisfies children’s basic needs and the plot is credible. The theme of
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the story is very important for children to hear. The author communicates in an honest way that there is hope in this world. Fighting for what you believe in is a valuable lesson for all ages and students need to learn at an early age that standing by what is right is very important and that they can make a difference.

Reading Level: 4-8
Genre: Contemporary Realistic Fiction
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LibraryThing member librisissimo
Frame is a memoir of young girl's experience (12 years old) when she helped her great-uncles save their "outsider art" constructions. Funny episodes, and tender emotions. It would do well as a DreamWorks movie, but there are some inconsistencies and elisions in the writing irritated me. Young
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people today would not get the historical references but would respond to the "outsider bullied by clique" aspect.
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LibraryThing member Salsabrarian
Margaret Rose Kane quits summer camp, fed up with the repression of the place and her cabinmates' mind games. She stays instead with her two elderly, eccentric uncles. She learns that, due to urban development, the city intends to take down the impressive towers of pipes and crystal pendants that
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her uncles have created in their yard over the past 45 years. Margaret rallies the help of her uncles' former child neighbors who are now an art gallery owner and phone company executive. With their help, the pipe structure is moved to a hilltop where they serve as cell service towers.
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LibraryThing member bookgirl3
Margaret Rose must be rescued from summer camp by grand-uncle albert and his dog Tartouffle, because "she prefers not" to participate in most camp activities. Margaret returns to her uncle's house for the summer while her parents are on an archaeological expedition in Peru to see if they can
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salvage their marriage. The city condemns the towers that the Hungarian brothers have built and the neighborhood has taken into its own, an plans to demolish them. Forbidden by law to be on the premises of the towers, Margaret's cabinmates show up to prevent the demolition.
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LibraryThing member satyridae
Solid, nicely plotted, full of interesting, real characters. The main characters are quite believable and fun to read about. Some of the supporting cast is cut from cardboard, and there's a fair bit of the denouement that seems contrived, but the overall story is well worth reading. There's also a
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fun tie-in with Silent To The Bone.
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LibraryThing member alice443
This is the story of Margaret Rose's transformative summer. I throughly enjoyed the story. The characters are enjoyably eccentric and realistic.
LibraryThing member ecataldi
I adored this book. Even though it's really a middle grade read and told through the perspective of a twelve year old girl, I ate it up. While her parents are in Peru, Margaret Rose Kane finds herself stuck in a summer camp, hating everything. Determined to not be swayed the "Queen" camp director,
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Margaret decides not to do anything. Whenever she's asked to participate she replies, "I prefer not to." Fed up, the director calls her uncles who are temporary guardians for her while her parents are out of the country. The uncles whisk her out of camp and take her back to their whimsical house., complete with art towers, on 19 Schuyler Place, which is exactly where Margaret Rose Kane wanted to be in the first place. Things aren't all hunky dory though, Margaret finds out that the towers have been condemned and will be torn down in weeks. Armed with her incorrigible attitude, she determines that her summer project will be to save the,. Great fun and narrated beautifully by Molly Ringwald.
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