Thimble Summer

ISBN: 0808540688
ISBN 13: 9780808540687
By: Elizabeth Enright

Check Price Now


Children Children's Childrens Fiction Historical Fiction Newberry Newbery Newbery Medal Newbery Winners To Read

About this book

A few hours after nine-year-old Garnet Linden finds a silver thimble in the dried-up riverbed, the rains come and end the long drought on the farm. The rains bring safety for the crops and the livestock and money for Garnet's father. The summer proves to be interesting and exciting in so many different ways. Every day brings adventure of some kind to Garnet and her best friend, Citronella. As far as Garnet is concerned, the thimble is responsible for each good thing that happens during this magic summer -- her thimble summer.

Reader's Thoughts


Loved this one! I hesitate to say we're into another good Read-the-Newberys decades because I fear I'll immediately disappointed, but this was so enjoyable!I love that this little girl named Garnet sometimes gets called Ruby, I love that she has a pig named Timmy, I love that she's disappointed she wasn't locked in the library all night, and I love the way they just unquestionably enfold Eric into their family like it's the most normal thing in the world. Oh, and I really loved Mr. Freebody.This book probably romanticizes a time in our country, but I don't care. I loved it. And I want to live in it and go to the Southwestern Wisconsin Fair.Thank you, Newbery committee, for this charming book.


I did not care for this book. It was a Newberry winner, apparently, but... I dunno. There wasn't really a connecting plot through the whole story. Each chapter was a totally separate story, if you ask me. The only connection was the characters and they all took place in the same summer. But it could have just as easily been a series of short stories, you know?For instance, the second chapter is a story where Garnet (the main character) and her friend are listening to her friend's grandmother tell a story about when she was young. The grandmother had really, really wanted this bracelet, and felt that her father had let her down by not getting it for her, and how she eventually got one, though it caused many mishaps along the way. The grandmother later says she lost it. I thought maybe the little girls would find the bracelet or one similar. Or they would learn a lesson from it and later in the book when Garnet really wanted something, she would recall the lesson. But no, neither the bracelet nor the grandmother is ever mentioned again.In one chapter she sneaks away and travels many towns away without telling anyone. She buys presents for her family, spends all her money and heads home. She decides not to tell them right away where she got the gifts because she didn't want to get into trouble for leaving all by herself. But in the next chapter, everyone has their gifts and no one mentions her leaving, and she apparently gets into no trouble.And I was hoping some romance between her, or her friend, and the boy who randomly shows up that summer. Maybe they're too young for that.Even the -point- of the book. The thimble. Many, many pages go by without any mention of it at all, until the very end when she claims that it was responsible for her great summer. You'd think she might have pulled it out during some of those great times.


The adventures of Garnet over one long, hot summer on her family's Wisconsin farm are beautifully written despite the slightly simplistic flavor typical of 1930s children's books. Enright, a masterful writer, uses language in amazing ways and her characters are vibrant. When Garnet finds a silver thimble in the creek she saves it, and from that day on wonderful things happen: days of driving rain to save the crops; an unexpected addition to the family; and yet Garnet herself has misadventures, as a result of her own thoughtlessness and inexperience. I can see why this book received the 1939 Newbery Award, and kids of today should be intrigued by Garnet's experiences. Delightful.

Anne Thomsen Lord

Kate gave me this book from the Kearney Library mostly because the main character's name is Garnet, and Garnet currently happens to be my favorite girl name. I've been reading Thimble Summer on the bus the last week, and it has been wonderful. Enright's descriptions of rural Wisconsin are fantastic. They made me want to go out and pet a pig and take a trip to a county fair. I especially enjoyed Garnet's hitchhiking adventure and the addition of Eric to the Linden family. The drawings were excellent as well.

Carl Nelson

1939 Newbery Medal recipient.Meh. I guess the depression-era Newbery committee had a thing for descriptively pastoral books where nothing much happened. The events of "Thimble Summer" were episodic, with no overall plot. The episodes were not all that intriguing--the county fair, a story from her grandmother, getting stuck in the library after closing, and each chapter seemed to go about three pages longer than necessary thanks to descriptive prose that over-dramatized nearly everything. Even the thimble of the title is mentioned when she finds it and at the very end, and otherwise isn't mentioned. None of the characters really stood out either. Given the Wisconsin setting and the similarly adventurous female protagonists, I think comparison between this and "Caddie Woodlawn" are inevitable, and "Thimble Summer" is by far the weaker of the two.

Kathleen Houlihan

I re-read this book at least a couple times per year -- there is something so pleasant about the ritual of revisiting Garnet and her family on their farm; first waiting for the rain to come, then her adventures with Priscilla, the strange visitor, and then Garnet's own journey from home, only to return back again. The illustrations are simple pen and ink line drawings, but they convey the story's elements beautifully. This book is most definitely a classic.

Jess Michaelangelo

I loved this. The Newbery Award has yet to let me down! This one has been on my TBR list for a while now, and I'm glad I finally got to it. I was completely transported while reading this. Enright tells of the everyday life of a young girl during one summer in the Midwest. When I say I was completely transported, I mean it. It's cold, like frigid cold, here. The wind is howling, and the thought of going out into the world outside of my house makes me miserable. This book put me into a summer state of mind. I could have sworn I'd walk out into a nice, warm breeze with the birds singing and with leaves on the trees. Enright just puts her reader there. Not only that, she does it beautifully. The language in this book is simpler, as it is aimed towards younger readers, but it is still poetic and flowing and beautiful. I could totally see why this book got a Newbery award. I truly experienced this book--I could see the sights, hear the sounds and smell the smells. In the beginning of the book, when Enright is describing a late summer heat spell, I almost wanted to break out and turn on the fan in my room. Okay, maybe not. I was curled up under my Snuggie instead, but you get the idea. I also kept thinking about how great this book would be to read outloud, and I was sorely tempted to do so throughout the book. This book is really great for those who are wistful for a simpler, sweeter time. This book is quaint, but that doesn't equate with boring. The plot was slower, but in an idyllic way. Don't get me wrong, Garnet and her friends and family get themselves into some interesting predicaments, like being locked in a library over night. It honestly reminded me somewhat of The Penderwicks, and I think fans of that book would really enjoy this one. I loved it now, and I'm certain I would have loved it as a young girl growing up.


I loved Enright's Melendy books so much as a child, and I liked the Gone-Away Lake books, too-- but somehow this one never grabbed me. I never even tried it. In a way, I'm glad I didn't, because as a child, I might have been a little bored with it. There's not much of a driving plotline-- it's more of a series of anecdotes about one girl's summer in 1930s rural Wisconsin. I guess I wasn't into farm life as a kid? Or thimbles?As an adult, I find this book to be a fascinating, luminous picture of a particular time and place. Enright's descriptive prose is straightforward, evoking detailed scenes with a few well-chosen words. I found myself savoring every bit of the text. I noticed a few themes that Enright repeated in her Melendy books-- children being told an interesting story by an interesting adult; a child stumbling upon an unexpected object in an unexpected place; children roaming around strange places completely on their own and coming to no harm (the original free-range kids!). I wonder why this won the Newbery, but none of the Melendy books did-- I'll have to revisit the Melendy books to see if they seem less "distinguished." The audiobook is a great way to experience this book-- and my preschoolers took to it too. I felt the content was sufficiently gentle to listen while they were in the car with me, and we all enjoyed it together.


Elizabeth Enright is one of my favorite authors in all the world. This book exemplifies how she could paint a picture of a child's world with just the right details to make it amazingly clear. Her insight into what makes life interesting to a young mind leads to sentences with startling evocative perfection.Reading this book makes me feel like a young girl growing up on a Wisconsin farm in the 1930's. I adore this book and cannot recommend it strongly enough to absolutely everyone.


I loved this book and read it over and over. I received this book as a gift from the RIF - Reading is fundamental - program, and it was one of my prized possessions.


Winner of the 1939 Newbery Medal for Children’s Literature, this is a delightful & heart-warming story of nine-year-old Garnet Linden and one perfect summer on her family’s Wisconsin farm. It’s set in what was in some ways a much simpler time, in a self-sufficient rural environment (her father fired his own lime to make his own blocks for the foundation of his new barn).In one of many adventures that summer, Garnet makes a trip on the bus by herself to the next town (imagine that happening today!)I found the comparisons between town & farm life amusing because they remain similar to such observations today.Elizabeth Enright is also the author of my childhood favourites – the Melendy Family quartet, which begins with The Saturdays.Every child should be able to enjoy a Thimble Summer. Sadly, few ever do – or even did – and so this story provides a wonderful escape.Read this if: you love tales of the unspoiled rural America of 80 years ago; or you believe in happy childhood summers. 5 stars


I was given this book in 1st grade by my teacher. I fell in love with it. I read it over and over for years....I'm 38 now and still find it as wonderful. I also began collecting silver thimbles then.....I now have quite a few. : )


This won the Newbery in 1939. After I read The Cat Who Went To Heaven (1931 Newbery winner) I was a little gun-shy about the 1930s winners. I was starting to think all the early Newberys were duds but this book proved me wrong! It's a quick read and a nice feel-good story. The author has a way of describing things that reminds me of my relatives in Western Pennsylvania--descriptive and colorful but no frills language that gets to the heart of what's going on. I love that kind of story telling. The character Mrs. Eberhardt really reminds me of my Grandma Corfield (know what I mean, Mandy?) Here are some descriptions I liked:"It was too hot to eat. Garnet hated her cereal. Donald whined and upset his milk. Jay was the only one who really ate in a business-like manner, as if he enjoyed it. he could probably eat the shingles off a house if there was nothing else handy, Garnet decided.""The watery air was cold against her face and as she looked the many-branched lightning stood for an instant on the horizon like a tree on fire."Mrs. Eberhardt: "My we had awful winters then. We used to be snowbound for weeks at a time. We kept the fires burning day and night and I remember wearing three pairs of woolen knit stockings and so many flannel petticoats I must have looked like a cabbage wrong-side up."

Sarah how I love Elizabeth Enright's books! Wonderful when I read it as child, wonderful when I reread it this week.


This is "light" fare for readers in late elementary to older age groups. Nothing "really bad" happens, although there is some suspense in the characters' actions. It won the Newbery Award in 1939 and I think it provided an "upbeat" view of life at a time when everything bad was happening--the Great Depression still going on, World War II starting, the Dust Bowl era, epidemics, etc. The silver thimble which main character Garnet, a young midwestern girl, finds supposedly starts the run of good luck for the young heroine and while it starts the book and ends it--in between, we don't "see" it. Interestingly, in a later Newbery book, Criss Cross, the piece of jewelry attached to good luck is more interwoven into the plot and, by the end, actually "speaks" to the reader about its actions. Also, the amount of hitchiking the young girl does (after hearing of older boys doing it) is scary for our modern times! A parent would have to caution a young reader to never do that now! Still, an enjoyable one day read.

Share your thoughts

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *