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The Summer Of The Swans
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The Summer Of The Swans

3.58  ·  Rating Details  ·  7,713 Ratings  ·  398 Reviews
All summer Sara Godfrey has fretted over herself, her impossible body, her terrible new haircut. One moment she's elated, the next, she's in tears. And she can't figure out why. Maybe her wildly changing moods are tied to the sudden and unaccountable appearance of the swans, which hold the rapt attention of Charlie, Sara's mentally handicapped brother, who she loves far mo ...more
Paperback, 129 pages
Published May 2000 by Scholastic Inc. (first published March 30th 1970)
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We finished Summer of the Swans the other day (amazing how long it takes for us to read such a teenie little book). I was...underwhelmed. All the teachers who recommended it raved about it, but I didn't see what the big deal was. It centers around the relationship between a sister and her mentally challenged younger brother, who gets lost in West Virginia mine country. The idea itself was good, but the story was slow, and then it ended very abruptly. I would have prefered it better if the story ...more
L Frost
Simple story. Typical teenage girl beginning to face uncertainty about herself although her life has been full of challenges. Not a very fast paced book but it's short so it doesn't take long to read. Not the most uplifting book, but offers a small silver lining at the end. I'm surprised it won the Newbery Award since it seemed fairly simple. The swans play a fairly small role despite the book's title. There is no foul language or use of God's name. No sexual references, not even kissing. There ...more
Connie  Kuntz
I read this with the kids. It's a nice enough story about teenage angst that touches on some interesting subjects including deceased mothers, absent fathers, mentally handicapped children. Unfortunately, it only grazes the surface of these issues and reads with about as much intensity of a corporate video about "Mutual Respect." Yes, it is well written, has great imagery, and it won a Newberry award, but I think it is too simple a story to take seriously. Even the description of the swans was fl ...more
Kathy Davie
Feb 19, 2012 Kathy Davie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: children
Award: Newberry

My Take
Puberty is hitting Sara hard and Byars is absolutely brilliant in her depiction of the angst and drama of a young teen with the frustrations about her father and her impatience with her little brother---this rings so true of sibling relationships! Her intense sense of right and wrong as well as her desire to protect along with that so-very-thin skin.

It's the mid-1960s and, in just a few pages, Byars gives us a quick peek into a few days of the Godfrey family's life with the
Ahmad Sharabiani
The Summer of the Swans, Betsy Byars
عنوان: تابستان قوها؛ نویسنده: بتسی کرومر بایارس؛ مترجم: پروین علیپور؛ تهران، افق، 1384، در 155 ص، شابک: 9643691624؛ موضوع: داستانهای نویسندگان امریکایی قرن 20 م
Sara Godfrey is 14 and facing a host of emotional turmoil about her looks, her shoe size, her hair but is unsure why this and, what seems to be, everything else in her life, bother her. Her older sister, Wanda’s independence infuriates Sara & having to be ever responsible for her younger, developmentally delayed, brother Charlie is a nuisance. That is until Charlie goes missing and Sara is forced to rely on the help of a boy she thought was her enemy to find her brother.

This story encompass
Jul 10, 2008 Wendy rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: newbery
This probably would be better if it was longer; as is, it feels like an overlong short story. Underdeveloped all around, and terribly dated. Compared to this, RULES is a masterpiece.

Incidentally, I notice that a disproportionate number of Newberys take place in West Virginia, which is pretty odd.
Karen GoatKeeper
Life is so confusing at fourteen. You're growing up but your body is a mess. Your emotions take you on a roller coaster ride.
None of that matters when your little brother disappears on night. Brain damaged in an illness, he doesn't talk, can't tell where he is, depends on things staying the same. But the swans are so beautiful on the lake he must go to see them again.
Where is her brother? How do you find a boy who will be terrified when searchers start combing the woods?
This is a good coming of
The summer of the swans is a girl that is on a summer vacation.she never had the perfect summer and shes had 14 summers thats gone bad for her.This summer its about to be different for her.theres a girl named Sara with a brother named Charlie and a pet named Boysie.Sara did not want to go on the vacation the summer.Her aunt are coming with her.her aunt names are aunt willie they went to a place in a house.when they get there she went in and she helped to bring the rest of the mornig Sa ...more
Feb 02, 2010 Shania rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is about a sister and a brother and there having fun during the summer but I think she should have said that but not yet.It frist stared when sara had to go to a new school and she didn'know anybody ay that school and then these girls came up to me and said what is wrong with you look at your face and your whole body then theysaid that and she ran as fast as she could to get home.But do you know what I whould have said to those girls i love the way I look and that 9is the way god made ...more
Summary This book was about a girl named Sara and her brother named Charlie. Charlie is a boy who had brain problems and health problems when he was really little. Charlie has never spoken before he can understand what people say to him but he will not respond in words but will nod his head in response to what you had said to him. Charlie and Sara one day decide that they were going to look at the swans at the lake before they were to move to a different lake. Well they had a great time while th ...more
Jun 08, 2012 Emily rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book packed a lot into a few short pages and I can see why it won the Newbery Medal. Excellent story about 14-year-old Sara, her older sister Wanda, and their mentally handicapped younger brother Charlie who all live with their aunt in West Virginia. There's a lot to talk about here. Sara is struggling with the typical teenage problems that seem so important when you're 14, but also with the loss of her mother six years before, her distant father who works in another state, being raised by ...more
Rena Sherwood
Yes, it won a major book award and it must have been a VERY bad year for children s' books for this to win. This was such a disappointment after enjoying Betsy Byars' The Winged Colt of Casa Mia.


Color me nutty, but if a book is titled The SUMMER of the Swans, perhaps swans should somehow be part of a whole summer instead of just two friggin' days.

I guess this was one of the first books to deal with an autistic child (long before the word "autism" was coined). The child gets lost in the woods at
The thing I like the best in this book is Sara's voice, which is so, so, so wonderfully shallow at the beginning. Thing is, the book's in third-person, so we basically only hear Sara's voice when she speaks. The other characters kind of speak in the same way (kind of like how people in a small town use the same dialect), but you can tell what their overall emotion is from their dialogue. Joe is Good-Natured and has a bit of a Chip On His Shoulder. Sara is Shallow, at least at first, and Emotiona ...more
Lauren Smith
Jun 02, 2011 Lauren Smith rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: newbery-awards
Wow, a lot going on in those 140 pages. And not in a busy sort of way. The tale itself is actually refreshingly simple. I love the portrayal of Charlie, his innocence and wonder shines through the eyes of the narrator in a way that if he were to be given dialogue could not compare. I love the loyalty shown in a confident sister, Sara, and her fierce protection over her mentally disabled brother. One day she’s crying about her puce shoes – and the next afraid for the life of someone she truly car ...more
Aug 08, 2011 Nora rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I re-read this book that I loved so much as a child. Basically, this book is perfect. The trend in children's books now is that you have to grab the reader by the throat in the opening line and have non-stop action. But this gentle, contemplative book is of its time (the '70s) and is essentially character-driven. I remember as a nine-year old thinking this book was really "deep"--and I still think so! Also, I was really amazed at Betsy Byears' dead-on portrayal of autism, even though she doesn't ...more
I read this one as a child; I am sure I did. I am certain because I was as obsessive as a youngster as I am now. I set out to read every Newbery Award winning book when I was about ten, and this 1970 award winner was on the list in 1979. The problem is that I couldn't remember whether I liked it or not. After reading it today, it became clear why: it is about as memorable as vanilla ice cream. It's not bad, it just isn't great. My fifth grade girls who read it for their literature circle enjoyed ...more
It's funny. This is one of those Newbery winners whose title was the only thing I knew about it. Or so I thought. Then I started reading it and realized that not only did I remember the story—I even remembered details of the writing, like the description of Charlie's sticky lollipop at the beginning. I have no idea when I originally read THE SUMMER OF THE SWANS, but clearly it stuck with me to a pretty significant degree. Rereading it as an adult, I assumed that Charlie is on the spectrum, thoug ...more
Mar 20, 2016 Stephanie rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This is one of the most boring books I've ever read.
Fully half of the book is the heroine looking through the woods for her brain damaged little brother who wondered off and was missing.
Some might find that exciting or interesting but not I.
On top of that almost everyone in this book was so annoying-right on down from the pushy, loud, overbearing Aunt, to the heroine herself, to the little brother .
It made it hard to relate to the characters. Plus at the end, the heroine Sara had this big philos
Extremely well written. The descriptive elements of this story pull the reader in and make them feel as if they are physically present. Family dynamics, emotions, developmental distinctions between ages and perspectives, and tactile elements are all portrayed very realistically. However, the story does not convey a global significance. Yes, the plot details an event that is highly significant to the main characters, but it does not effectively inspire much empathy from readers. As a reader, I fe ...more
Jun 22, 2015 D.C. rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: newberies
I put off reading this for the longest time because I was grimacing at the thought of how the author would treat the subject of mental disability writing in 1970. Well, that certainly wasn't my main issue with the story; it isn't explored very deeply at all, and nothing is offensive whatsoever (although Charlie's ailment that brought forth his disability is questionable.) The plot is painstakingly obvious, in no small part thanks to the sections written from Charlie's viewpoint. I can see the Ne ...more
Jul 13, 2014 Kathi rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: newbery
When I listened to the audio version of this 1971 Newbery, I could vividly recall—about fifty years ago—feeling exactly the same way that Sara felt, and I wished I could have read this book when I was 14 to possibly realize the emotions were normal. And my mother was alive, I had no Aunt Willie-equivalent, I didn’t have a sister I envied, and I didn’t have a mentally challenged brother—in short, my life was so much easier than Sara’s!—but I still recall having the same restless, unhappy-with-mys ...more
Mar 11, 2014 Cathy rated it really liked it
Recommended to Cathy by: Newbery Award Winner
Sara’s life has always flowed smoothly, like the gliding swans on the lake, until her little brother Charlie disappears. Then Sara is forced to see her life in a whole new way.

Vivid imagery and especially the analogy at the end of the story that illustrated Sara's growth and understanding of her place int he world around her during that summer that was going to be "the worst summer ever":

"A picture came into her mind of the laughing, curly-headed man with the broken tooth in the photograph album
Benji Martin
Oct 28, 2015 Benji Martin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Review Originally posted at Newbery Pie

I jokingly said that I hoped that I would hate this one, so I could say, “The best part about this book was that I found a copy at the thrift store for 79 cents (true story)” in my review. Alas, I didn’t hate it at all. It would have made a great line.

I don’t know if I found Sara’s character totally unlikable. She was a pretty normal teenage girl, over-worried about looks and unimportant things like that. That’s just
This book is filled with teenage girl drama that may annoy some, but others will be able to identify with.

Sara's mother died. Aunt Willie is raising Sara, her sister, and brother. Charlie, the younger brother, is mentally challenged and is often teased. The girls have to care for Charlie who is often not compliant, but is difficult to deal with.

Predictable, but could be good to listen to and discuss the audiobook on a family vacation.
Jan 25, 2015 Ben rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: newbery, ben
Newbery 1971 - Summer of the Swans is the story of Sara Godfrey a teenage girl whose mother has died when the story opens. She, her older sister Wanda and her younger mentally challenged brother Charlie live with her Aunt Willie. She hates her life, her looks, and feels that this summer is one of the worst. Swans have visited a local lake with her brother who doesn't speak. The main plot of the book is centered around Charlie getting up in the middle of the night and leaving the house to find th ...more
Shady Lady
Sep 03, 2015 Shady Lady rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Summer Of The Swans is a children’s novel about a young mentally challenged boy and his older sister Sara.

This is a story of enjoying the simple things, like going to a lake on a warm summer evening to see the swans, or making a tent in the backyard – things that seem to be overlooked nowadays. It’s also a story of friends and family helping each other out in their time of need.

It is a beautifully written story, and the illustrations by Ted CoConis are wonderful, the swans in particular.

I re
Here's another book that I should've read before now. I enjoyed reading this book. Sara is 14 years old and going through growing pains like a lot of kids her age do. She's frustrated by the way she looks and she constantly compares herself to her older sister, Wanda. Her 10-year-old brother, Charlie, suffered brain damage during an early childhood illness. One night, Charlie sneaks out of the house so he can go look at some swans at a nearby lake. In the morning, Charlie is missing and Sara and ...more
David B
Apr 05, 2014 David B rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Sara is a teenage girl with lots of reasons to be angry. Her mother is dead, her father has left her to be raised by her aunt, her older sister seems prettier and more mature, and her younger brother Charlie is mentally retarded. She often feels put upon to look after Charlie when nobody else wants to. On top of all this, she is having the worst summer vacation ever. She learns to see her world with new eyes, though, when Charlie disappears one day.

Author Betsy Byars presents an effective and be
Feb 12, 2016 Kelly rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
The ending was disappointing, & the dialogue seemed very odd. I didn't even like the main character most of the time. I'm not really sure why it was a Newbery winner, unless it was the fact that it dealt with the subject of mental disabilities.
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Betsy Byars has written over sixty books for young people. Her first published in 1962 and since then she has published regularly. Her books have been translated into nineteen languages and she gets thousands of letters from readers in the United States and from all over the world.

She has won many awards. Among them are the Newbery Medal in 1971 for her novel The Summer of the Swans, the American
More about Betsy Byars...

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“It was as if her life was a huge kaleidoscope, and the kaleidoscope had been turned and now everything was changed. The same stones shaken, no longer made the same design.” 13 likes
“I have cried over myself a hundred times this summer, she thought, I have wept over my big feet and my skinny legs and my nose, I have even cried over my stupid shoes, and now when I have true sadness there are no tears left.” 9 likes
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