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 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.

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.


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.


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.


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. : )


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.


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.


One unusual thing about this book is the fact that the author describes some stories that are told in great detail by the characters, allowing the full ambience of life in the country during the time periods represented to stand tall in all its flavor. This is something that I liked quite a bit, as detailed stories from all ways of life (especially ones that date back to older times) really appeal to me. Elizabeth Enright has done a very good job in the writing of this Newbery Medal winner, bringing a satisfying close to the 1930's as one of my favorite decades in Newbery history (in my thinking featuring in particular "Hitty: Her First Hundred Years", "Invincible Louisa: The Story of the Author of Little Women", and "Roller Skates"). The rural atmosphere works beautifully for the narrative, and the way that Garnet's feelings and thoughts are engineered seems very real, and can be identified with cleary and easily. Her emotions, and the responses that these feelings and their resulting actions trigger in the other characters, ring completely true, and settle deep down in the reader's memory and heart. I fondly recommend this book to all.


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.


75 1939: Thimble Summer by Elizabeth Enright (Rinehart)Aug. 20, 2013 124 pagesGertrude Linden is a farm girl of the 30's. Her family has a car, but uses candles. Even her library has gas lamps - not electric. The story is a delightful tale of the summer when she finds a lucky silver thimble in the mud of a creek. I have two reservations about it. First, it calls people fat. Second, she leaves home without telling her parents and hitchhikes. Perhaps that was safer in 1938, but it certainly isn't today.My personal Newbery scale:Meaning EntertainingRead-aloud Probably not due to reservationsAges AnyLength ShortMe I enjoyed the story but was uncomfortable with the use of the word, "fat," and her hitchhiking with strangers.


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.


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

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!


Garnet Linden, a nine-year-old girl who lives on a farm in Wisconsin with her two brothers. After finding a silver thimble, a drought ends, and she begins to have delightful adventures: being accidentally locked in the town library; hitchhiking to the nearest city, New Conniston; entering her prized pig into a regional fair.This 125-page book, with charming line illustrations by the author, won the 1939 Newbery. It’s told in clear, bright-eyed prose, with the wonder of a farm girl seeing extravagant exotic things like Ferris wheels, or the joy of finding “magic” treasure,” or the simple childlike fun of running in the rain. There’s little drama and less despair in this book, just the ups and downs of a bright child who loves her home town and her family. There are unfortunately several quasi-disparaging remarks about “fat” people in the book, which mars an otherwise kid-friendly tone.

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

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