Was Summer Ever This Perfect?

summerRiding bikes, eating ice cream, swimming in a lake, fishing, catching butterflies … this is how the two kids in the Beginner Books classic Summer, by Alice Low (1963), spend their hot-weather days. I dare any parent to read this book and not be overcome with nostalgia and longing for a simpler time. Did these kids go to a day camp that cost their stressed-out parents $4,000 for six weeks? Did they beg and plead for the Minecraft Pocket Edition for iPhone because they’re the only ones of all their friends “forced” to play the free version? Did they properly coat themselves with broad spectrum water-resistant sunscreen? For that matter, did these two kids even own a pair of shoes?

I’ve decided we should revisit this book at the start of every summer. These kids are so  happy — even with only two choices of ice cream flavors:

They are so happy. And there are only two choices of ice cream flavors.

Check out their diving board at the swimming hole. It’s a wooden plank and some rocks:

summer-swimOnce again: no shoes:


summer-fireflyThe last spread of Summer never fails to get me. After the two kids run around catching fireflies, they flag down a passing farmer in a field who gives them a moonlit ride home on his horse-pulled wagon. It’s all so idyllic.

Er, where are their PARENTS, you ask?

summer-hayrideAbsolutely nowhere. Suddenly you realize: these kids have been totally out there by themselves, finding their own fun at their own pace. Which is, in the end, what makes this book so captivating.  The Charlie Brown-type absence of parents is also what makes this book so unrealistic in 2013. So no, we’re not going to let S & L jump into some stranger’s horse cart after sundown. But maybe they’ll have a better appreciation for a lazy day outside with a homemade fishing pole.

Reading level note: Summer is one of the Beginner Books that’s not by Dr. Seuss but has the Cat in the Hat on the spine (a la Are You My Mother? and The Best Nest). It’s a lovely read-aloud for toddlers, and now that my son — who just finished kindergarten — is just getting the hang of decoding, it’s a good level for an early reader (think Frog and Toad, but with rhymes).


5 thoughts on “Was Summer Ever This Perfect?

  1. Liz

    This was one of my favorites when I was a kid! It’s been on my Amazon wish list for about a year now and I keep almost buying it to read to my toddler. This officially tips the scale and I must go order it right now. This book painted the picture of what a perfect summer should be (making actual summer a bit of a let down) – but oh the possibilities!

  2. Mrs. Little Post author

    So glad! I didn’t even know this book existed when I was a kid. You are probably a fan of the 1962 P.D. Eastman and Roy Mc Kie book “Snow” too, right? (I think that one might even top this one!)

  3. Lucy Mitchell

    Thanks, this look perfect for us. I’ve hidden away Sam and the Firefly and some Berenstains to produce on our camping trip. (they will be greeted with shouts of joy – well, maybe. Although not from my older boys -we had that minecraft conversation today too!) Lovely blog.

  4. Kaitlin

    Oh my, I love this! My little guy is only 2, but I think he would love this book. It is strange to think that are children are growing up in such a highly-supervised fashion. I’m sure it’s partially because the world is slightly scarier, but it would be nice to let go of the anxiety every once in a while-I’m sure the kids would benefit.


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