I guess I've put it off long enough. It's not that I didn't like The View From Saturday, it's that I don't really know what to say about it. It's the story of four kids (The Souls) and their teacher, who find each other and connect in a somewhat unexplainable way, then win a trivia contest. The trivia contest was a weak attempt at a plot (there wasn't a whole lot of suspense, I think), but it tied the stories together. And it was a set of stories. It started out as stories, and it remains stories, only they're tied together.
Mr. Thompson said that a story can be plot-driven or character-driven. From what I understand, the difference is which is more important: what happens or how the character reacts to what happens. For example, each Harry Potter story is completely plot-driven. It begins with a mystery, ends when they catch the bad guy, and the middle is full of events that serve as clues. On the other hand, Beloved (which, I admit, I did not finish reading) I think is very character-driven. It plays out in the memories of the protagonist, and the descriptions of events are very personal. We get an account of the characters' experiences through their perspectives, not a bird's-eye view of the facts. In this way, the story's purpose is to develop a character. I don't think I've defined these concepts well enough. Any thoughts would be encouraged.
The View From Saturday is character-driven. The purpose is to create these characters and attempt to understand their special relationships, and it works. And that's unusual for a kids' book. But it's kind of cool.