Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Book Review: Gone-Away Lake

Gone-Away Lake
Author: Elizabeth Enright
Date of publication (year): 1957
Publisher: Sandpiper
ISBN: 0152022724
Number of Pages: 272
Where it can be purchased: Amazon
Illustrated? yes, beautifully detailed illustrations by Beth and Joe Krush
Genre of the book: Fiction
Rate your book: Highly Recommended
Appropriate Age group for this book: Amazon says 3rd to 6th grade. I discovered this book when I was 9 or 10, and I read it every year or two until I was about 20. I read it last week and I still love it.
Book Summary: (from Amazon)
Grade 3-6-Elizabeth Enright's 1957 Newbery Honor book (Harcourt, pap. 1990) will
continue to entertain and enlighten today's children in this audiobook format
just as the print version has for generations. A brief opening train ride (one
of the only somewhat dated segments in the book) introduces listeners to Portia
and Foster, siblings on their way to spend a summer in the country with their
cousin Julian and his parents. But from that point on, the magic of discovering
a small summer community, derelict for decades as its lake slowly dried, is just
as enchanting today as it was nearly 50 years ago. Even Foster's play at robots
and space stations contributes a contemporary feel to the story's details. The
story is beautifully written with fairly sophisticated language... The unfolding
tale of the once-upon-a-time summer colony at the turn of the 20th century is
wonderful...This story of a summer of discovery and adventure would be an
outstanding choice for elementary school youngsters with a good reading and
vocabulary skills. (sections of review relating to audio version deleted)
Opinion of the Book:
This was one of my favorite books when I was a kid. It still is. As a kid, I loved the idea of finding an almost abandoned Edwardian era village. As a parent, I appreciate the way the different generations of people interact with no angst or barrier or criticism. The people are real, the kids are intelligent and well-behaved (but not ridiculously so), and though the book is not full of hair-raising adventures, it is a cozy happy read that just makes me want to step into the story. I am happy to report that my seven year old is listening to this book on CD and loving it.
Gone-Away Lake is followed by Return to Gone-Away, which is just as much fun. Extremely conservative parents will be concerned by one scene in Return to Gone-Away when the girls read a fortune-telling magazine, but hang on, conservative parents, because the girls find out its advice is rather inaccurate.

Elizabeth Enright wrote several other children's books, and after re-reading these two, I think I'll seek out the others at our library. Stay tuned for more reviews.

The audio CDs are available on itunes.