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The Saturdays (The Melendy Quartet)The Saturdays by Elizabeth Enright

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

(While not a genealogy topic per se, it is a story of family and of a time in history and may appeal to genealogy folks.)

Elizabeth Enright’s Melendy Quartet of books are ostensibly children’s books, but they are much more than that.

I read The Saturdays with my son when he was about 6 years old and we enjoyed it very much. This last year I read it again with my 5 year old daughter and it has only gotten better on the second pass.

The story is of four children from the ages of 6 to 13 in 1930s New York City who have decided to pool their weekly allowance. Each week one then takes the pool to use the money to go on a day out wherever they wished – a concert, a museum and others.

I believe my kids loved the book a great deal because of the vicarious freedom they experience through the characters. But I believe the the book is much more than the value of that story line for both them and adults – Enright’s writing is beautiful at times and downright funny at others. It also captures the period very well.

There are a few moments in the books that may seem odd to children, now so far out of context of their original time period. (Rush cheerily calling Oliver “fatso” for example, or their wandering the city on their own.) But they are very minor in comparison to today’s daily fare and a small discussion about them can only help kids with their perspective.

Enright paints a wonderful picture of a time of innocence in the children’s lives and all of the characters have a wonderful warmth and reality about them.

Once we read this book my daughter couldn’t wait to keep reading – and I have to say that in her more pensive moments, Enright’s writing can even make you a little teary. I heartily recommend all four books in this series to both children and adults.

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