The Mysterious Edge of the Heroic World
Amedeo Kaplan seems just like any other new kid who has moved into the town of St. Malo, Florida, a navy town where new faces are the norm. But Amedeo has a secret, a dream: More than anything in the world, he wants to discover something -- a place, a process, even a fossil -- some treasure that no one realizes is there until he finds it. And he would also like to discover a true friend to share these things with.
William Wilcox seems like an unlikely candidate for friendship: an aloof boy who is all edges and who owns silence the way other people own words. When Amedeo and William find themselves working together on a house sale for Amedeo's eccentric neighbor, Mrs. Zender, Amedeo has an inkling that both his wishes may come true. For Mrs. Zender's mansion is crammed with memorabilia of her long life, and there is a story to go with every piece. Soon the boys find themselves caught up in one particular story -- a story that links a sketch, a young boy's life, an old man's reminiscence, and a painful secret dating back to the outrages of Nazi Germany. It's a story that will take them to the edge of what they know about heroism and the mystery of the human heart.
Two-time Newbery winner E. L. Konigsburg spins a magnificent tale of art, discovery, friendship, history, and truth.
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Reading Group Guide
Define the terms "censorship" and "degenerate." Learn about the National Socialist Society for German Culture, and their efforts to censor art they called degenerate. (http://fcit.usf.edu/holocaust/arts/artdegen.htm).
Amedeo Kaplan is the new kid in town and at school which makes him feel "alone and anonymous." Amedeo meets William Wilcox and observes that he isn't "so much alone as aloof." What is the difference between being alone and aloof? How does being aloof protect one from being alone?
Amedeo Kaplan has a desire to discover something. Why does he think that moving to Florida will cause him to give up his dream? Debate whether Amedeo is blindsided by his discovery at Mrs. Zender's house. How does his discovery contribute to important changes in the lives of each of the characters in the novel?
Explain the difference between a relationship and a friendship. How does Amedeo's business relationship with William Wilcox develop into a friendship? Why might the two boys seem unlikely friends? What does each boy bring to the friendship? At first William appears to be the dominant person in the friendship. At what point does this begin to change? Amedeo says, "I think you always give a part of yourself away when you make a friend." What part of himself does Amedeo give away?
Both Amedeo and William have been lost in adult worlds. How are their adult worlds different? How do see more