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


I am a BIG fan of Elizabeth Enright. The Melendy Quartet of books were some of my favorite reads with our kids (see my other reviews of those books.)This book is one of her earlier books and I can see the spark of the Melendy books beginning here. But, (and as my less than 10 year old kids would like to hear me say) - I have a Big But.There are some beautifully written passages in Thimble Summer - the harvesting section in particular. However, the book as a whole feels disjointed. In the Melendy books there are certain sections that feel dated, which is understandable as they were written in the 1940s.But, even when the children in those books go on Manhattan jaunts that would make today's helicopter parents go into apoplexy, there is more of a transition on the cause and effects of the child's decision.Some similar jaunts are made by Garnet in this book, but somehow here I felt more concerned as a parent for her hitchhiking, daring bus riding et al, rather than enjoy those freedoms from the perspective of the character as I did in the Melendy quartet.Funnily enough, there are even some of the same story lines in this book as those: stuck on a Ferris Wheel, arrival and welcoming of a lost boy are two I noticed.I suppose the real litmus test of this book is my 6 year old daughter, who LOVED the Melendy books asked to stop reading this one a few times in the middle. We soldiered on with some book breaks and am glad we did for some passages, but overall, if you haven't already I would recommend you get a copy of The Saturdays and work your way through the Melendy Quartet instead.


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


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.

Valerie Basham

We enjoyed this story of happy events during the exciting "Thimble Summer". Garnet Linden is a hoot, and the descriptions were great. Elizabeth Enright's use of the simile throughout the book was excellent. Read and enjoy!

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.


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.

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 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.


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."

Benji Martin

Oh looky here, ANOTHER 1930's Newbery winner about a tweenage tomboy. Don't get me wrong, I like tomboys. All evidence points towards my daughter being one. She's loud, rambunctious and mimics every move her big brother makes, but at some point you would think the editors of the 30's (or at least the Newbery committee) would have said, "umm. We've had a lot of these tomboy novels recently. Let's slow it down some." I mean I enjoyed all of the books independently, but together, they aren't really all that unique.That being said, I did appreciate a few things about this book It's a obviously a forerunner to Charlotte's Web, one of my all time favorites. A girl saves the runt of a pig litter, raises it by hand, it goes off to win ribbons at the state fair, etc. I'm pretty sure that E.B. White had to have at least read Thimble Summer/ It was short, as most of the 1930's winners have been (a big departure from the 20's), and that made the annoying things a bit more bearable, and the characters were all pretty likable.Unfortunately, like Roller Skates, Caddie Woodlawn and the rest, this novel suffered from a lack of plot. Not a whole lot happens, and there was never really that much at stake. This probably would have been a two star book, but like I said, I'm not sure if Charlotte's Web would have ever been written without it, so I'll give it three just because of the greatness that I think it probably inspired.


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.

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

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 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.

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.

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