Friday, July 6, 2012

Thimble Summer, by Elizabeth Enright

Thimble Summer is, I think, a victim of poor book cover summarizing. It was billed as a story about a girl who finds a silver thimble, after which everything seems to be going her way - could it be a magic thimble?! While technically an accurate summary, it completely misses the nuance of the story, let alone the thimble. The summary would not have led me to pick it up as a kid, but I think I would have liked it if I'd given it a chance.
Garnet is 10, and lives on a family farm in depression-era Wisconsin. Her friend Citronella lives on a farm nearby, and this is the story of their adventures over the course of a summer. In the beginning of the book, there is a drought, and everyone is struggling. Realities of the depression are knocking at the door, but Garnet's world is still relatively stable. She has a loving family, neighbors who are basically part of the family too, and good friends.

There is a silver thimble at the beginning of the book - Garnet finds it in a dried up riverbed. But after that, you forget about the thimble, because the rain comes and ends the drought, she and Citronella have an adventure (locked in the library, Arthur-style!), an orphan boy turns up in the neighborhood and ends up living with her family, and her piglet wins a prize at the fair - among other small summer adventures. At the end, Garnet looks at the thimble, and thinks back over the summer, and declares that she will always remember it as the Thimble Summer - in a sort of treasure it in her heart kind of way.

One of the critics on the book jacket says that this is a book about a contemporary child going about everyday life, and I agree - while not contemporary anymore, it is a clear, honest look atan ordinary girl's life, a bit like a 1930s Ramona. Happily recommended, although you will need to talk to your kid about why hitch-hiking is NOT a good idea these days!

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