Thimble Summer

ISBN: 0808540688
ISBN 13: 9780808540687
By: Elizabeth Enright

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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


“Can there be Magic in a Simple Thimble? This is a gentle, quiet read about life on a Wisconsin farm in the 1930’s, when great grand-parents still recall tales about local Indian. Ten –year-old Garnet Linden reminds us of Laura Ingalls, for she is plucky, mischievous and strong-willed. It was a milder age to be a child back then, back there, with simple pleasures: safe hitchhiking, swimming in the creek, barn-raisings, quilting bees, home-made ice cream and County Fairs. But farmers had it tough--what with drought and financial, l worries until the harvest was safely in. Adding to family concern is Jay, Garnet’s brother, who has decided that he does not want to be a farmer after all. Still Garnet wonders about the new orphan boy who shows up one night by the lime kiln: might he be farmer material? There is not much plotting here--just incidents strung out like beads on a necklace, but this is a laid-back book which young girls will enjoy. The illustrations are delightful; we see bubbly Garnet chasing chickens, locked in (I won’t say where!), and on the cover she proudly holder her pet pig. One theme presents is that you really should be grateful to have Good Neighbors. Another is that one needs special eyes to recognize treasures when you find them. Could a simple thimble prove to be a wonderful treasure--to remember that special summer for many years to come? (July 9, 2012. I welcome dialogue with teachers.)


Thimble Summer is about one special summer in Garnet Linden's life. Garnet is a young girl who meets the world with wide-eyed, naive wonder. However, at the beginning of the summer, her small farming community is facing a terrible drought, tough growing season and her family is having financial difficulties. Despite her innocence and optimism Garnet is not unaware of these problems. But as a child, she doesn't feel there is anything she can do. The story does not linger on this point, but the reader is given just enough glimpse of this to let us know that Garnet is not living in a fantasy world. One day, while swimming in a creek with her brother, Garnet finds a silver thimble in the mud. She is convinced that the thimble is magic. Her brother, Jay, scoffs, but from this moment on, things do indeed seem to get better: The rains come, Garnet's longing for adventure is satisfied and an orphaned boy becomes part of her family, etc...Enright was truly gifted at setting a scene and placing the reader in the landscape of her characters. She uses simile so magnificently to describe the world through Garnet's eyes.In Thimble Summer she has captured a moment in time that Garnet as an adult would probably remember as the best summer of her life. I think this will resonate most strongly with adult readers and conjure up feelings of nostalgia.While Peterson and Solt* see this book almost solely as a way for modern readers to understand farm life in the 1930s, I feel that there is much more to the story than that. In a historical context, Thimble Summer can be seen to symbolize the turning point of the Great Depression, which I think would be important to bring up in discussion about the book with young people.PS: I concentrated mostly on the story, but Enright's artwork is swell, too.*Newbery and Caldecott Medal and Honor Books, An Annotated Bibliography. L. Peterson and M. Solt, 1982.


A sweet tale about a girl growing up on a farm in the mid-west. The book highlights one summer full of fun and adventure. I like how the kids in the book are independent and spend all,of their time outside. They don't have tv or devices to entertain them. I didn't care for the subtle "girls can't do what bus can do" sexism. This one isn't as bad as some is the Newbery winners of the same era, though.

Aubrey Clifton

I read this when I was younger and am now re-reading it with my little sister. It's just as good now. Makes you want to live in the country! Fun book for kids of all ages.


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.


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.

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.


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. : )


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

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.


Why didn't I know about Elizabeth Enright when I was growing up? I read everything by Maud Hart Lovelace and Lois Lenski, but she passed me by. Enright's books are just the type that I adored when I was 9 or 10 years old--a bit old-fashioned, but smart, with characters who were adventurous and curious and made messes and hung out with the coolest grownups.

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

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.


Unbelievably (to me), I have never read this book by Elizabeth Enright. I have read her others, and reread them as a child and now as an adult, but I do not remember ever reading this book before.This is the story of Garnet Linden, a farm girl in the late 1930s, and of the summer she found a silver thimble. The thimble does not play a big part in the story, but Garnet credits her adventurous summer to finding the thimble. She helps around her family's farm, takes care of her pig Timmy, in order to enter him in the regional fair, and she and her friend Citronella even get locked in the local library overnight.A sweet book, and the Newbery Medal winner for 1939.

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