Saturday, October 10, 2015

Pinky Pye by Eleanor Estes (1958)

Pinky Pye by Eleanor Estes (which I've written about here previously) is probably one of my top children's books.  I love it dearly and completely.  I have a stuffed owl named Owlie Pye, after the pygmy owl at the end of the book.

áThis is my personal copy of Pinky Pye.  

The inside cover is stamped:
(two illegible numbers)09 WILLIAMS
MAR 10 1977
APR 5 1977
JUN 30 1977
AUG (illegible date, possible 19) 1977

And that's it.  Why I have a book from the Central Kansas Library System I don't recall.  Have I always had it?  Did I purchase it at some used booksale?  I went to college for three years in Great Bend; did I buy it then?  My public library growing up, Lang Memorial Library in Wilson, Kansas is a member of this cooperative (I just googled it).  Perhaps I bought it as a used book sale at my public library as a child.  In my mind, it came from my grade school library (our librarian let us choose old books to take home at the end of the year, which is how I ended up with a very worn copy of Mrs. Piggle Wiggle and a book about a brownie from the early 20th century). But that's not true - I don't know why I have this copy.  As Eleanor Estes might add in aside if she were writing this blog, I just do.  I never actually read this book, because it's falling apart.  I keep it for sentimental reasons.

Pinky PyePinky Pye by Eleanor Estes
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

No matter how many times I read this book, I come away renewed and re-charmed. It's an almost 60 year old book, but it's still crisp and enchanting, with it's small mystery and chatty yet wry narrative; reading Pinky Pye - really, reading Estes period - arouses an overwhelming sense of nostalgia for a another time and place (albeit one most likely nonexistent outside of children's books and fuzzy memories). I hope there are still families like the Pyes out there, children who can still be fascinated by crickets and watching a man catch a 2 lb fish in the surf, who build wagons from junk drifted to shore after a storm, who teach their dogs to count, who are content (or even allowed) to sit on the roof and watch whatever needs to be watched. The last lines are poignant, as the Pyes (as far as I can tell) never appeared in print again: "'Well,' said Papa, 'since we have finished with the book and we have finished with the book report, what do we do now, Pinky Pye?' ... at the door, [Pinky] looked back at Mr. Pye... 'Woe,' she replied sadly."

View all my reviews

This is spine of the book I actually read, checked out from the Ovitt Family Community Library, Ontario, California.  I loved this spine, because it has a Edward Ardizzone illustration of Pinky on it.  

I love Ardizzone's illustrations for the book.  Here are a few of my favorites:

Fourth of July, the Pyes are getting ready to watch the Long Island fireworks from a pier on Fire Island.    A gang of rowdies appear in this chapter, and drunkenly threaten to toss Pinky into the ocean, angering Papa, who twists his ankle in his anger, which leaves him incapacitated in a wheel chair for most of the summer, which then later ties into the parts of the plot.  This is what is great about Pinky Pye: Estes weaves bits and pieces of a small mystery together to from a whole story.

Pinky the typewriting cat

Uncle Benny looking for crickets

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