written and illustrated by Elizabeth Enright
Age: 5+ (read to); 7+ (independent reading)
Interests: farms, country life, family, strong girls
Also by this author: Gone-Away Lake, The Saturdays, The Four-Story Mistake, Tatsinda
On a Wisconsin farm 9-year-old Garnet Linden finds a silver thimble in a dried up riverbed. That very night the drought breaks and it rains, to the great relief of everyone. Thimble Summer is a chronicle of an eventful summer, one that Garnet believes is magical, thanks to the thimble. Several small-scale adventures unfold: an orphan joins the family, a new barn is built, Garnet and her best friend are accidentally locked in the town library, and Garnet runs away for a day and hitchhikes to a faraway town, and her prize pig wins first place at the fair. Nothing too terrible happens, people are nice and friendly everywhere she goes, and Garnet is a plucky, well-meaning but headstrong young girl.
Nicely written and the characters are likeable, but story is a little on the tame side. It’s above all an ode to country living and a loving remembrance of an idyllic summer from the author’s childhood. It’s also a portrait of a long-gone era when kids had a lot more freedom to roam. Set in the American Midwest, this book was actually written during the Great Depression, but severe hardship is absent from these pages – the Linden farm is saved with the drought-ending rain at the beginning of the book. Definitely a good choice for kids who don’t need a whole lot of drama or angst in their stories, therefore eminently suitable as a read-aloud to 6-year-olds or even younger.