by Eleanor Estes
Published 1951, 1958
These are two of my favorite children’s books. While I don’t love Pyes *quite* as much as the Moffats, they are still an endearing family.
First off, I have to brag that my edition of Ginger Pye is a first – “Newberry Award Winner” is actually written in pencil in the front, probably by some librarian in years past. Secondly, I have to confess that I stole this wonderful edition from my mother … books are a precious commodity in our family, and book snitching is pretty acceptable, as long as you’re willing to return the book if the person from whom you “borrowed” demands a return. :-D (Pinky Pye I picked up from a book sale in a perfectly respectable manner.)
The Pyes consist of Mama, of Papa the bird-man (he’s an ornithologist), Jerry, Rachel, and Gracie the cat, plus Mama’s parents and her little brother, Uncle Bennie, who is actually younger than his nephew and niece, since Mama was married at a very young age. (The story of how Papa and Mama met, when he was running up the down escalator, is just one example of the delightful anecdotes that fill the pages.) In the beginning of Ginger Pye, however, Jerry is contemplating adding a new member to the family: a dog. The story describes how he earns the money for this amazing dog (“He’s purebred, part fox terrier and part collie”), how Ginger gets his name, and, tragically, how Ginger is stolen! The mysterious foot-stepper, the man with the yellow hat – there is a bit of mystery to Ginger Pye, especially if you’re a young reader. As an adult, the solution seems quite obvious, but this is a delightful read for children who are just learning the joys of reading a chapter book on their own.
In Pinky Pye, the entire family heads out to small island to spend the summer with Mr. Pye, who has a job watching birds, and working on his latest book. Pinky, a small kitten, joins the family. While there isn’t quite as much mystery to this one, the simple story of how the family spends their summer is sweet and restful.
While for some these books may be a bit overly nice, I highly recommend them as incredibly relaxing and delightful books for adults, and very fun and exciting books for younger readers. If you’re looking for a read-aloud or a book to recommend to a young relative, you should definitely check out the Pyes.