The 1939 Newbery Award winner, Thimble Summer, by Elizabeth Enright, is bland in a charming and low-stakes kind of way. It’s still a better book than many of its distinguished predecessors.
When we are first introduced to Garnet Linden, age 9, she is waiting for rain. Her parents are farmers, the crops are wilting, and there are bills to pay. I thought this set the scene for a vintage version of Karen Hesse’s gripping Out of the Dust, but alas, no. A missed opportunity. Garnet and her older brother, Jay, go to beat the heat by the creek, which has the tint and temperature of tea. Garnet finds a thimble in the river bank and declares it is magic. That night, the rain comes.
Now that their troubles are in the past, Garnet goes on to have quaint adventures, including:
- getting locked in the town library past hours, which, to her credit, she finds absolutely grand
- hitchhiking to the “big” city while all in a funk because she feels overlooked and under-appreciated by her family (Garnet is the middle child.)
- raising a prize hog and showing him at the fair
- touring all the tame antique rides and attractions at the state fair
To end the book, Garnet concludes that she had such a great summer on account of her lucky thimble. Yay. The End.