Umbrella Summer was my fifth book read for the 2012 48 Hour Book Challenge. In the wake of her older brother's sudden death 3 months earlier, 10-year-old Annie Richards has become super-cautious. She wears a bike helmet, kneepads, elbow pads, and ace bandages around her ankles, and still walks her bike down the hill instead of riding. She reads books about diseases that she might get, and covers the slightest scratch with band-aids. People worry about her behavior, but Annie knows how important it is to be careful. Because you never know what might happen.
Umbrella Summer made me cry in more than one spot. But it made me laugh, too. A number of the characters, including Annie, are funny. Like when Annie's best friend Rebecca's father tells the girls to play with words, so they act out "Goldilocks and the Three Proboscises." Or when Annie and Rebecca scheme to get inside a new neighbor's home, only to have Mrs. Finch see right through them (and, fortunately, find them amusing).
I flagged quite a number of passages. And, since I read this book on the Kindle, I know that many other people had also flagged passages. It's that sort of book, particularly near the end. Profound, I guess you'd say. Like this:
"I wished there was a way to keep that in a bottle, that one moment of wonderful perfect, so I could open it up whenever I needed to get a good whiff."
"But I just have stuff. And I think people don't need my stuff to remember me." He took a bite held out the tin to me so I could take a cookie too. "I guess I think people will just remember me 'cause of things I did."
For someone who didn't talk much, Tommy sure had lots to say."
There are also just nice quotes, like this one:
"He was quiet for a while, thinking I guess, and I just sucked on my last Junior Mint until it was just peppermint air."
I love that! "Peppermint air."
I did think that Mrs. Finch (who arrives in the neighborhood and promptly helps Annie to figure things out) was a bit of a device. She's a device that works, and quite a likeable character, but it did feel like a tiny bit of a cheat to have her just show up partway through the story and then help so much. I did like the way that Annie's nemesis, Doug, doggedly tried to help her, despite Annie consistently pushing him away. And the quiet presence of other adults from Annie's life who tried to help, at a time when her own parents weren't equipped to do it.
Umbrella Summer is a book with sadness in it, but it's also funny and true-to-life. There's a bit of a nostalgic feel to it - kids on bikes playing in the neighborhood, with computers only playing a token role. Definitely a book to give to kids who like a book that makes them cry, but also one to try on kids who like to laugh.
Publisher: HarperCollins (@HarperChildrens)
Publication Date: June, 2009
Source of Book: Bought it for Kindle
© 2012 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. This site is an Amazon affiliate, and purchases made through Amazon links may result in my receiving a small commission (at no additional cost to you).