Review | Jennifer, Hecate, Macbeth, William Mckinley, and me Elizabeth : By e. l. konigsburg

I remember reading Jennifer, Hecate, Macbeth, William MicKinley and me, Elizabeth years ago as a teacher and decided to have a quick reread, today, before giving a copy to my granddaughter who just entered fourth grade. It was enjoyable revisiting the story and I’m quite certain my granddaughter will like it. She’ll let me know one way or the other. I hope to be able to talk to her about the things she finds interesting. Perhaps she will question a classmate’s choice of Halloween costume. (“Why would a fifth grader wear a pack of cigarettes costume made from a large cardboard box?”)

This novel is one of e.l. Konigsburg’s Newbery Award winning books for ages eight through twelve. Even though it was published in 1967, it’s relevancy remains intact. However, the above mentioned cigarette pack costume may be explained by this date. Elizabeth’s experiences with her new friend, Jennifer, grow more and more intriguing from one chapter to the next.

Jennifer finds herself in a new town and a new school. Fifth grade is a lonely place until she meets Jennifer. Jennifer is different . . . she reads Macbeth; she never wears jeans or shorts; she never says “please” or “thank you”; and she says she is a witch. Pre-teen friendships are important developmental stepping stones. Elizabeth’s choices say a lot about her. Elizabeth’s mother encourages a friendship with Cynthia, a girl of the same age who lives in their apartment building. “Every grown-up in the whole U.S.of A. thinks Cynthia is perfect. She is pretty and neat and smart.” Elizabeth wastes no time discovering Cynthia is NOT perfect. When out of sight of grown-ups, Cynthia is mean and “two -faced”. That the friendship between Jennifer and Elizabeth is interracial is mentioned once in the book. Race is not a factor in Elizabeth’s and Jennifer’s friendship. Their companionship is on a deeper level.

As for the interesting title of this book:

  • The names of Jennifer and Elizabeth are understandable.
  • The “and Me” is due to the fact that Elizabeth narrates the story.
  • William McKinley is explainable by knowing Elizabeth and Jennifer attend William McKinley Elementary School.
  • Hecate and Macbeth require more detail to explain – Hecate, the goddess of witchcraft, is viewed as the leader of the three witches in Shakespeare’s Macbeth. Jennifer is an avid reader and frequent visitor of the public library, well known by the librarian. Her current passion is witches and what better place to find them than “Macbeth”, or, perhaps, Roal Dahl’s “The Witches”.

I believe my granddaughter shares enough common ground with Jennifer and Elizabeth to find this story interesting. She, too, goes to the library once a week. She, too, would have compassion for a frog named Hilary Ezra. She, too, loves a walk in the woods “looking up”. Some aspects will prove eye opening and new. We all read to learn.

I’m gifting Jennifer, Hecate, Macbeth, William McKinley, and Me, Elizabeth along with a second book by E. L. Konisburg, From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler (another Newbery Award winner) to my granddaughter. What a gift for me to have a granddaughter who enjoys reading a good book.

Published by Audrey Newhall

I am an avid reader and contributor to Penna Book Reviews

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