Thimble Summer, by Elizabeth Enright
Newbery Medal – 1939
AR Level: 5.7
Recommended for 4th through 8th grade girls
Themes: Nostalgia, farm life, family, 1930s
Thimble Summer, Elizabeth Enright’s first Newbery Award winner, is a lovely book for the clever girl who enjoys books about the “olden days.” Garnet Linden finds a silver thimble in the beginning of the story and believes it bodes well for her summer. As the story progresses, she experiences new things, expands her horizons, and realizes how much she loves her family and home. Like Gone Away Lake, Enright’s other Newbrry winner, Thimble Summer just sort of flows from one scene to another. There isn’t an obvious plot, although Timmy the pig and the lucky thimble make a couple of appearances, but the story draws you back in each time with the beauty and joy of each Garnet’s experiences.
Garnet has a level of freedom most children in 2010 can barely imagine. She wanders all over town, hitchhikes to a nearby city and explores the county fair on her own, all at apparently ten years of age. When reading this book, and others of its era, you can’t help but wonder how our children now ever achieve the independence and creativity of earlier generations. For our over-protected children, it’s a little window to a world they may never know.