Catching Fireflies

finding magic along the way

Visiting Gone-Away Lake

Elizabeth Enright (1909-1968) was an award-winning American author. She wrote for children and adults, and also worked as an illustrator. I remember three of her books from my childhood.

The Saturdays (1941) was the first book in the Melendy Quartet. The four Melendy children (why are there always four siblings?) 🙂 go to live in a New York City brownstone with their father and housekeeper. They start a Saturday adventure club. By pooling their allowances, they are each able to choose an adventure each month. This was an ALA notable book.

Thimble Summer (1938) was a Newbery Medal winner. In it, the main character, Garnet Linden, finds a thimble in a dried up riverbed just before the skies open up and drop rain on a drought-starved land. This saves the farm and Garnet sees the thimble as a magic talisman for this and every good thing that happens to her that summer.

Gone-Away Lake (1957) was a Newbery Honor Book, won the Lewis Carroll Shelf Award and was nominated for the Hans Christian Andersen Award. In it, the Blake brothers discover an abandoned lakeside resort. They befriend the two elderly siblings who are the only remaining inhabitants. In the sequel, Return to Gone-Away (1961) , the Blake family returns and restores a house at the resort.

Her stories have been called timeless. Many of her children’s books revolve around summers and it is thought that they grew from the author’s memories of summers spent on Frank Lloyd Wright’s (her uncle) farm in Wisconsin. Having spent many summers at our family friend’s cottage in Door County, Wisconsin, I can understand the charm of these memories. 🙂

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At age 30, she was one of the youngest writers to receive the Newbery Medal.

In researching this author, I learned that she also wrote short stories for adults. While most of her books for children are still in print, and even available for e-readers, her stories for adult readers are sadly all out of print. 😦

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