1939: Thimble Summer (or, hitchhiking is fun!)

VERDICT: Treasure

Sally’s Rating: 3/5

One summer day, a young girl finds a thimble hidden in a riverbank, which leads to a summer of excitement and new adventures as Garnet prepares to show off her pig at the state fair.

Although the premise is similar to other “life on the farm” Newbery winning novels, Thimble Summer capitalizes on the strengths of its genre by featuring a fearless heroine, charming secondary characters, and the sweetness of small town life. Garnet’s curiosity and willingness to try new things is quite endearing.

I found the premise – Garnet finds a “magical thimble” and good things begin happening around her – weak and uninspired. After the initial finding, the thimble fades into the background for the most part until the ending, making it seem irrelevant. The more I thought about it, though, the more it seems true to life since people apply meaning to things that are oftentimes meaningless.  Garnet, though only a girl living a rural lifestyle, becomes something more once she has the thimble in her grasp.

The book’s plot is rather mundane, presenting the day-to-day life on a country farm. But Garnet and her best friend, Citronella, constantly get into trouble, giving this book an almost enjoyable, forbidden feel to it. The girls run the gamut of situations, getting locked in a library overnight, stuck in a Ferris wheel at the fair, and forced to hitchhike after running away from home. It’s amusing to see what mischief they can get into in such a small town. Her growing friendship with Eric is also fun to watch and balances out all of trouble she gets into.

Ultimately, Elizabeth Enright’s Thimble Summer is a story about a simpler time.  A cross between Charlotte’s Web and Caddie Woodlawn, I would recommend this for children that enjoy stories about farm life, animals, and the bonds of friendship.

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