Elaine Lobl Konigsburg is an American writer known by her children’s books and fiction stories. Konigsburg is the only author who won the Newbery Medal and a Newbery Honor in one and the same year. In her works, she describes teenagers’ problems and their struggles. Usually, the characters of her works try to find the answers to the questions that are beyond someone’s understanding, make decisions that are crucially important, etc.
For example, in her work About the B’nai Bagels written in 1969, Konigsburg presents a story about the Little League baseball team and a twelve-year-old Jewish boy, Mark Seltzer who has really a lot on his mind.
The boy prepares for his Bar Mitzvah (in Judaism, it is coming of age). This period is too significant for any person. For Mark, such times are not that easy. He loses his best friend who moves to the rich district of the town. His mother becomes a manager of the baseball team where Mark plays. And his elder brother is his coach now. The situation becomes worse when Mark’s team starts winning all the games and is going to participate in the championship and even heads it.
At the beginning of the story, it was an ordinary baseball team B’nai B’rith. After Bessie Seltzer, Mark’s mother, becomes its manager, lots of people begin to notice the team. Everyone call the team not B’nai B’rith, but B’nai Bagels. And now, Bessie is Mother Bagel.
“… We won our first game. Dad’s strategy paid off, Mom’s nagging paid of, Spencer helped; …” (About the B’nai Bagels 97)
The players of the team adore her. Everyone adores her, except her own son, Mark. It makes too many problems for him. He cannot make a single mistake. Now, he has no right to lose and let down a team. This is why he gets to plenty of difficult and sticky situations.
In addition, his social position makes him bother as well. Is it possible that a 12-year old boy can cope with all this? Hardy! On my opinion, the most difficult for Mark situation is when he gets to know some unpleasant information that may change a lot of things and become troublesome both for his team and for his family. He does not know what he has to do with these facts. He is at loss. It is high time to take the most important step and decide what to do in order to stay a good friend, successful team player, and loving son and brother.
To my mind, the way out chosen by the boy is good indeed. Taking into consideration all the circumstances and hardships he faces with, the end of the story impressed me a lot. He chooses the way in order to be true with himself. And it is really worthy of respect.
The story is full of real life examples, the situations, everyone may face any time. Mark should make significant decisions, pass through life challenges, and do not disappoint people whom he cares a lot. Such challenges help the boy to learn more his own soul and his own mind.
The language and style the author used in this book is rather clear and simple. This is why, as for me, this story can be interesting either for children or grown ups.
Konigsburg, Elaine Lobl. About the B’nai Bagels. USA: Aladdin, 2008.