Seems fairly funny that not only would The Saturdays make it onto this list but its sequel to boot!
The plot from Wikipedia reads, “During the height of World War II, the Melendy family find themselves moving out of New York City and into the countryside. Randy, the third child of the Melendy family, feels saddened and sombered by the move. But the house they move into turns out to be an adventure unto itself. The Four-Story Mistake is an odd-looking house with a rich architectural history, surrounded by bucolic countryside. The four Melendy children soon become absorbed in the adventures of the country, adjusting themselves with all their accustomed resourcefulness and discovering the many hidden attractions that the house has to offer. Oliver discovers buried history, Rush is stranded in a tree during a storm, Randy finds a diamond in the most unlikely of places, and Mona learns what it truly means to be an actress. And none of them could have ever guessed at the secret hidden in their very own play space, the office—a secret that had been shut away for over 60 years.”
There is a truly beautiful article at NPR by author Mairsa de los Santos called Taking Comfort in a ‘Four-Story Escape’ that puts this book into the larger context of children’s literature and what books mean to kids. At one point she says, “Enright, the author of The Four Story Mistake, is a writer who gives you an an entire, flesh-and-blood person in two sentences. Mona, Rush, Randy, and Oliver are utterly alive, and are complicated, but they are uncomplicatedly happy. They stage elaborate plays, ice skate at night, and collect scrap metal. Always together, always living with an abundant, freewheeling joy. They have reasons to worry — motherlessness, World War II — but they don’t. When I was with them, I didn’t either.”
There’s also a top notch review of the book at Jen Robinson’s Book Page. Jen really knows how to get inside the heads of the child characters. Plus I like this quote she located:
” ‘That suitcase looks as if it were laughing out loud,’ Randy said.
‘Oh, stop being whimsical,’ snapped Rush.”
- Check out the original interior art on the book’s website (isn’t it nice that Macmillan cared enough to give it all these bells and whistles?).
Publishers Weekly said of the book, “The Melendys are the quintessential storybook family…[their] ardent approach to living is eternally relevant.”