We’ve been out of our routine this week because we went out of town while Steady Eddie was off work for Labor Day. Re-entering normal life after a trip is always problematic for me for some reason–I LOVE to travel and would spend my entire life on a perpetual vacation if I could. 😉 After getting home Tuesday night, all we did on Wednesday was play, do some laundry, go to the park to play some more, and finish our chapter book read-aloud, Ginger Pye. This was a great way to spend a day of re-entry, I think. 🙂
Ginger Pye was awarded a well deserved Newbery Medal in 1952. It’s the story of siblings Jerry and Rachel Pye and their little dog, Ginger. Jerry and Rachel earn enough money to purchase a puppy from their neighbor, and little Ginger turns out to be a lovable and intelligent pup. However, tragedy strikes on Thanksgiving Day when Ginger is stolen, or at least comes up missing. Much of the story revolves around Jerry and Rachel’s attempts to get Ginger back. It’s a simple story, really, and not one in which a whole lot of action takes place. It’s more about the inner lives and workings of children, a theme I always find interesting, amusing, and instructive. Jerry and Rachel suspect a certain Unsavory Character, he of the yellow hat, as Ginger’s abductor, but unfortunately, this Mysterious Footstepper stays just on the periphery of their normal trek around their friendly little town of Cranbury. It’s just enough to make this story “deliciously frightening,” as Anne Shirley might say.
In addition to this book being a gentle mystery, it is also full of interesting and entertaining little vignettes. This characteristic places Ginger Pye squarely in the category of books I like best–those with stories-within-the-big-story. For example, there’s the story of the Vertical Swimmer, the Pyes’ friend who swims up and down under the water, rather than horizontally, on top of the water. Rachel Pye has the ability to make even the most mundane of occurences seem exciting, or at least interesting, so all of these little stories work together to create a rich overall story in which characterization is the real star. The Pye family is just cozy and interesting. I think this explanation of the family’s dependence on Mr. Pye, “a famous bird man,” says it best:
[Rachel] dropped her dishcloth and looked pleadingly at her mother. Her mother nodded her head. “Call in Mr. Pye,” she said, referring to the way the men in Washington always spoke. “Call in Mr. Pye,” they’d say whenever they got in a bird jam. This was not a bird jam. It was a dog jam and a dishwashing jam. But in this family it did not matter what sort of a jam it was. “Call in Mr. Pye” suited every occasion.
I really, really enjoyed reading this book aloud to my girls. I think they enjoyed it almost as much as I did. However, and this is a big however, especially if your listeners are young and/or fidgety, this book has L-O-N-G chapters and rather complex sentences. Perhaps it’s because it was written way back in the early 1950s when attention spans were longer. I don’t know. My girls actually don’t have trouble paying attention to long stories (maybe because I subjected them to my terrible British accent and The Wind in the Willows when they were practically babies 😉 ), but I think it helped a lot that they had already listened to the audiobook of Ginger Pye several, several times quite a few months ago (maybe last year?).
I tried to read The Moffats for my Reading My Library challenge a while back when I was searching for an E author, but I just couldn’t get into it. Ginger Pye has made me more willing to give Eleanor Estes another chance, especially since the Moffats make a cameo appearance in Ginger Pye. I understand that Ginger Pye has a sequel, too–Pinky Pie. Has anyone read it? I think my girls and I will definitely have to add this one to our TBR list!
Link your own Read Aloud Thursday posts up below! 🙂