The late, great E.L. Konigsburg wrote at least fifteen books during her time. She’s best known for “From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler”, which is a staple on school reading lists. Don’t get me wrong, I loved that book too, but today I want to highlight my absolute favorite book of hers, “Journey to an 800 Number”. This is one of those books where I got to the end and couldn’t tell exactly what I had just read, but I sure knew that I had enjoyed it!
Maximillian “Bo” Stubbs is a prep school student who lives with his mother, who recently remarried. He’s excited about moving in with his rich stepfather and living a life of luxury…but not until the month-long honeymoon is over! In the meantime, Bo will be staying with his father Woody, a traveling man who owns a camel and makes a living by showing the animal at trade shows and carnivals. To complicate matters even more, Bo keeps bumping into a girl named Chloe, whose mother bounces between trade shows and forges checks to pay their way!
This is one of Konigsburg’s lesser-known novels, so it might be a little hard to find at first. Check your library for a copy, or maybe your local used book store. It’s worth the search, though, since this book seems to be all about people who are searching for their identities. I don’t want to ruin any of the ending with spoilers, but it almost seemed like Woody was the only one who was really at peace with himself. He knew that he would always be nothing more than a man who owned a camel, but he seemed to be content with that.
This book is offbeat, quirky, and definitely worth the short amount of time it takes to read. Even if you don’t enjoy it as much as “Basil E. Frankweiler” or “The View From Saturday”, that’s completely okay. Just because it’s my favorite of her books, that doesn’t it has to be yours too. Remember, the whole point of this project is to highlight those books that young men might not have heard of! If you’ve opened yourself up to reading something new, then our mission has been accomplished!