Finding author Elizabeth Enright's delightful novels for children has been one of the best things about this summer. Written in the 1930s, 40s and 50s, Enright's books have been re-printed with her original illustrations. Her stories about Gone-Away Lake, the Melendy Family and Thimble Summer are all lovely tales about children, their mishaps, and their adventures.
Gone-Away Lake and Return to Gone-Away chronicle the discovery of a dried up lake community from the past by two young cousins. Portia and Julian befriend the eccentric, elderly couple who still live there, exploring the abandoned Victorian mansions and listening to the exploits of the people who once lived there. Enright received the Newbery Medal for Gone-Away Lake in 1958.
The Saturdays is a charming novel about the four Melendy children and their decision to pool their allowances, thus allowing each of them one Saturday apiece to do something truly thrilling. In The Four-Story Mistake, the Melendy children leave their beloved house in Manhattan for a large home in the country. Then There Were Five is the most dramatic of the four novels. The Melendy children rarely see their father, due to the onset of the war. They meet over-worked orphan, Mark Herron, on a scrap collecting drive, and try to keep Mark safe from his abusive guardian with criminal connections. In Spiderweb for Two: A Melendy Maze, the two youngest Melendys are the only children home during the school year. Anticipating a bleak and boring autumn, Randy (Miranda) and Oliver receive a mysterious letter sending them on a scavenger hunt that lasts until spring.
My personal favorite Elizabeth Enright book is Thimble Summer. Newbery Medal Winner of 1938, Thimble Summer begins with the Linden family struggling through a drought on their Wisconsin farm. Young Garnet finds a silver thimble in a creek-bed and believes it may be a magic thimble when it rains later that night. The rest of Garnet's summer is touched by magic as she escapes being locked in the library all weekend, runs away and returns home unnoticed one busy day, and shows her pig at the county fair.
All of these books are perfect for reading aloud, or listening to in the car. My daughters and I have been enjoying them all summer and I plan to share them with some nieces for birthday gifts. Perfect for ages 9-12 and Highly Recommended.