Saturday, September 22, 2018

Book Review: Ginger Pye (children, dog lost and found, 1950s)

 Ginger Pye by Eleanor Estes (Odyssey/Harcourt, 1951, 306 pages, ages 7 and up, grades 2 and up) Ginger Pye is a Newbery Medal book.

Read It All Over Again

I knew about Ginger Pye when I was just a little kid but I never read the book because I thought it was about a girl! Little did I know Ginger Pye is a dog and a boy dog at that!

But it’s never too late to read a good (children’s) book – with or without the child!

All About Kids

Ms. Estes clearly remembers what it’s like being a 9-year-old sister of a 10-year-old boy living in a small town - except for the fact that these two sibs actually get along!

A long book with frequent side-stories that fascinate the reader. Ginger Pye was could have been written by a child who is side-tracked in telling a long story but does it so well, you are mesmerized.

And the story! Earning money and saving up to buy a puppy takes a few chapters, but the puppy of choice, the “Intellectual Dog,” gets his picture in the paper more than once for being so smart and for being. . .  well, that would give away the store. The puppy who disappears for much of the book and how and where and when he is found – all make an unforgettable story for any youngster, or adult, for that matter, even if you first read it decades ago.

And the Characters Are. . . .

Real characters! And the kids even get the measles. (Remember the measles?)

Can you believe Uncle Bennie is only three years old? And who do you think ‘Unsavory’ with the old mustard yellow hat will turn out to be? But Enemy Dog and Dollar Dog will be obvious.

Is it Dated? Does it Matter?

True, Ginger Pye is a story from the 50s and some of the language shows it, as well as some of the mind pictures, but the story of Ginger Pye itself is timeless. You will smile all the way through and not mind the slow building of suspense. You may even guess the ending, due to clever clues in each chapter.

Remember fifteen-cent ice cream sodas? Remember ice-cream sodas even? Remember trolleys because not every family had a car? Remember skeleton houses? Remember how seats on the trolley could turn around so you could talk to the people behind you? Remember marks on back doors to signal to hoboes that if they stopped here, they would be fed? Yup, Ginger Pye is a little dated with illustrations by the author like stick figures so your child can easily imaging they are him/her.

“Mr. Pye thought of himself as a bird man and a father, Mrs. Pye as a mother and a housewife, Jerry as a rock man and a boy, and Rachel as a bird man and a girl.” (p. 168)

 Who is Ginger Pye?

Ginger Pye is a fox terrier (albeit with a docked tail) who is purebred, “’He’s purebred, part fox terrier and part collie.  There may also be a little bull in him, too,’ boasted Jerry.” (Jerry is Ginger’s ‘master.’)

The Nose Knows

DogEvals’ favorite chapter is smack-dab in the middle of the book almost, Chapter 6 of 14, Ginger on the Fire Escape, or ‘How a pup manages to get out of his yard, and follow his kid to school (finding the pencil Jerry dropped along the way), and then learns which room Jerry is in, and find his way there!’

A Newbery Award Winner

Ginger Pye won the Newbery Award so you know it’s entrancing and worth reading. Ms Estes also was awarded Newbery Honors for two
Moffat books
and The Hundred Dresses.