This was a very good read for my 9 year old son and I together. The story of the narrator's friend Rufus coming up with a business idea, following thr...moreThis was a very good read for my 9 year old son and I together. The story of the narrator's friend Rufus coming up with a business idea, following through with it, AND providing all of the math problems that led them to their entertaining and a good subversive way of getting some math instruction in.
I found my son trying to do the math in his head before I got to the explanations in the book, which was great.
There are parts of the story where the narrator wonders aloud about the effects of bigotry or insularism in mixed neighborhoods and in business, that I thought were kind of shoehorned in. They either could have used a bit more time on the page, or could have been left out.
However, as someone who was the age these kids are in the early to mid 1970s living just east of Queens, NY, I can say that the issues at hand in the book were presented accurately, if not completely.
On the flip side of my last comment of possible needing more detail dedicated to character interaction and race, I think the story's detail on the lengths to which the other businesses went in the last 3rd of the book was kind of unwarranted for the tone of this book.
Throwing in a bit of organized crime for flavor was kind of like using a hammer to kill a fly. By the time we reached the end of the book some of the fun and joy we vicariously experienced via Rufus' math-filled business building was lost after trekking through this darker section and another screenplay interlude chapter.
Having said all of that - I do recommend it for kids in the 9 to 12 range, but there is some discussion to be had after the last sections. I thought of giving it a 3 star rating due to all of those "complaints", but I do think the idea and subject overall make it an almost-4-star book.(less)
I am a BIG fan of Elizabeth Enright. The Melendy Quartet of books were some of my favorite reads with our kids (see my other reviews of those books.)
T...moreI am a BIG fan of Elizabeth Enright. The Melendy Quartet of books were some of my favorite reads with our kids (see my other reviews of those books.)
This book is one of her earlier books and I can see the spark of the Melendy books beginning here. But, (and as my less than 10 year old kids would like to hear me say) - I have a Big But.
There are some beautifully written passages in Thimble Summer - the harvesting section in particular. However, the book as a whole feels disjointed. In the Melendy books there are certain sections that feel dated, which is understandable as they were written in the 1940s.
But, even when the children in those books go on Manhattan jaunts that would make today's helicopter parents go into apoplexy, there is more of a transition on the cause and effects of the child's decision.
Some similar jaunts are made by Garnet in this book, but somehow here I felt more concerned as a parent for her hitchhiking, daring bus riding et al, rather than enjoy those freedoms from the perspective of the character as I did in the Melendy quartet.
Funnily enough, there are even some of the same story lines in this book as those: stuck on a Ferris Wheel, arrival and welcoming of a lost boy are two I noticed.
I suppose the real litmus test of this book is my 6 year old daughter, who LOVED the Melendy books asked to stop reading this one a few times in the middle. We soldiered on with some book breaks and am glad we did for some passages, but overall, if you haven't already I would recommend you get a copy of The Saturdays and work your way through the Melendy Quartet instead.(less)
Just like the first book ("George Washington's Socks, which came out almost 20 years earlier!), the author has done a wonderful job of incorporating a...moreJust like the first book ("George Washington's Socks, which came out almost 20 years earlier!), the author has done a wonderful job of incorporating an interesting and well-paced story along with historical perspective.
While I believe aimed at children in the 8+ range (give or take), both books include partial story lines that are decidedly emotionally and intellectually difficult regarding the reality of war and ethics.
However, each also does a very nice job of providing enough information and grounding for the young reader to both feel for the character and understand the gray lines that are drawn in difficult times.
My son is 9 and the difficult passage in "Spy" did affect him - he was very concerned for what happened. But, we took time to discuss the events and the factors involved, which is the point of reading together, isn't it?
I appreciate the thought and craft the author put into these books and highly recommend both.(less)
I've just finished reading this books with my 9 year old son. He tends to be a super-speedy reader, so I'm glad that he and I worked through this one...moreI've just finished reading this books with my 9 year old son. He tends to be a super-speedy reader, so I'm glad that he and I worked through this one together - but only because we could take a bit of time to discuss the war-related events after we closed the book for the night.
I will avoid a full synopsis and thus spoilers here, but a group of children travel back in time and meet up with George Washington and his army on the way to the Battle of Trenton.
What I thought was really terrific about the book was the author's depiction of personal connections, the ambiguous nature of who the "good guys" are, and dealing with heartfelt loss.
The story was exciting and moved along well, very nice character development (must be hard to avoid full on cliches with young characters), and the content and context made for good discussion. I think 9 years old is right in the sweet spot for this book.
My son and I both enjoyed it very much and will be starting the second book, "George Washington's Spies" at our next bedtime reading!(less)