249 of 260 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Vintage Bradbury Fantasy Is My Favorite
DANDELION WINE is first and foremost the story of a 12 year old boy discovering that he is alive. I was lucky enough to read this gorgeous, perfect novel, wrapped in a library's dandelion yellow hardcover, the summer of my 12th year, in the small town of New Haven, Indiana, probably wearing my own pair of Red Ball Jets or Keds, lying in my living room as usual, curled...
Published on July 2, 2000 by S. H. Towsley
15 of 19 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars This one's worth reading
Bradbury does an excellent job of capturing the feeling of summer. People of all ages can relate to the smell of cut grass, the taste of ice-cream on a hot day, catching fireflies, picking berries, and all the other typical events of summer. The vivid images in the book brought me back to the carefree, enjoyable summer days of my childhood. Reading this book helped me to...
Published on March 24, 2001 by Megan
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249 of 260 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Vintage Bradbury Fantasy Is My Favorite,
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This review is from: Dandelion Wine (Hardcover)
DANDELION WINE is first and foremost the story of a 12 year old boy discovering that he is alive. I was lucky enough to read this gorgeous, perfect novel, wrapped in a library's dandelion yellow hardcover, the summer of my 12th year, in the small town of New Haven, Indiana, probably wearing my own pair of Red Ball Jets or Keds, lying in my living room as usual, curled up in a chair with the screen door open to let in the blustery summer wind and sun, with the lush green Indiana grass blowing in waves just outside.
I understood what Bradbury was saying at age 12, an incredible thing in itself, since the themes here are fairly grown-up. Essentially, this book is about a boy flooded with the sudden realization of his own "aliveness", and never has a child's experience of innocent living been so perfectly, passionately illustrated. Douglas Spaulding lying in the grass, or feeling the keen pleasure and pain of carrying heavy laden buckets of self-picked berries out of the woods while the handles crease the insides of his hands. Douglas Spaulding discovering the wonder of a Number Two pencil, and the joy of rising early in the morning to watch his town come to life with the sunrise. Douglas Spaulding discovering that nothing makes a boy fly weightless through his summer vacation better than slipping his feet into the cool, cloudwrapped heaven of a new pair of tennis shoes.
I found this book, at age 12 and several times since, to be an experience ranking with the most important books about human life that I have ever read. Bradbury sees so much, and conveys the experiences so clearly that one knows what Douglas and Ray know by the end. This is a book about passion and joy and being fully alive from moment to moment. It is a sonnet to and affirmation of childhood and innocence of such persuasive power that it has become a key volume of my core library. I don't expect everyone to have such a trascendent experience in the reading, and not everyone is fortunate enough to read this book at as perfect a moment as I did. But it is undeniable in its power and equal to the greatest work Ray Bradbury has produced, in my opinion. I was fortunate enough to meet him and thank him for it while at college. But this book has meant more to me than I could tell him.
Give this to a boy you care about, or read it to evoke, soothe and elevate the child in you. It is pure poetry, Bradbury at the height of his powers, written with genius, on the vital topic of the nature of life. I can only say Douglas Spaulding has never left me. You may find him equally provocative.
89 of 91 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Summer, 1928,
Magical. If the word 'magical' didn't exist, we would have to invent it in order to properly describe Ray Bradbury's DANDELION WINE. The premise is absurdly simple: one summer in a small Midwestern town during the late 1920's. On the surface it doesn't look like a lot to hang a novel on, but Bradbury puts so much heart, soul and, yes, love into his words that I defy anyone to call it an empty book. Bradbury has always written superbly for children, and slipping his characters into his own nostalgic childhood succeeds on virtually every level.
I've always preferred Bradbury's short stories to his full novels, yet here he successfully manages to have his cake and eat it too. Most of the chapters are self-contained little story segments. In fact, I had come across portions of this book in short story collections, and had no idea that they were smaller parts of a larger work. Yet DANDELION WINE is much more than just a collection of stories. The children and adults alike grow and change as the summer days burn and then fade. Just like a real season, some events are disconnected from the rest and can involve seldom seen people, while other proceedings are intrinsically linked to their peers.
The book itself is fairly difficult to sum up; every definition that I've tried coming up with has omitted several major elements. Of course, any summary that tried to include everything would be far too long and would contain none of the magic of the text. Children discover some fundamental and universal truths for the first time. Adults deal with their own fears and their own nightmares. And, of course, there are the usual wonderful collection of Bradbury eccentrics and strangers. Children are filled with awe and recognizably childlike without being annoying or unrealistic. There really are too many great little moments in this book to go into huge amounts of detail. To mention a handful of great things is to omit the other wonderful moments. Just like most perfect summers, the book isn't great because of one or two gigantic epics, but because of small quiet little days. From the silent thrill of feeling the grass beneath one's feet to the heartbreak at finding a lover at a point far too late in life, DANDELION WINE contains a huge amount of diversity under the cohesive umbrella of a typical summer. Two disparate events can be quite different in both content and feel, but Bradbury is more than talented enough to make them both feel like part of the same summer.
DANDELION WINE has a passion for childlike exuberance and the wonder of first discoveries all wrapped up in a healthy portion of nostalgic longing. This book is really a series of parts, but manages to add up to more than their sum. Like individual summer days, they can be appealing on their own, but taken as a whole the result is magical.
55 of 57 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of Bradbury's best.,
I've never been able, when asked, to declare a "favorite" book; depending on mood, weather, politics, this can change in a moment.
I'm almost ashamed to admit that I'd never read Dandelion Wine, by Ray Bradbury, until this morning. Honestly, I just never got around to it -- mainly because a largely autobiographical tale of growing up in Waukegan didn't seem as likely to thrill me as most of his more "traditional" genre work. Bradbury's one of my favorite writers, though, and I stumbled across a copy of Dandelion Wine for ten cents at an old bookstore, so I gave it a shot.
I think the simple reason behind its appeal to me is this: it's not a sci-fi book. It's not genre fantasy. But it IS fantastic, in the most real and most important way; it's one man's golden and heavily mythologized recollections of the summers of his boyhood, written with such quiet beauty that the mundane is transformed into high fantasy.
Bradbury explicitly addresses this concept with two of his motifs; the dandelion wine itself and Douglas' little notebook of extraordinary thoughts to accompany ordinary rituals embody the greatest strength of the book. Largely because I'm familiar with Bradbury's other work, I found myself constantly expecting a little dash of the mystical, the otherworldly, in the Lonely Man and the magical cooking of his grandmother -- but, of course, the only magic present is the magic that Bradbury can conjure up in memory. And it's enough.
Stephen King, in his best and most powerful work, has Bradbury's gift for making the prosaic into something poetic and eerie. I've always scorned King's forays into general fiction, mainly because it always felt to me like he was desperate for legitimacy, but also because I felt like he was betraying his gift. I'm not sure that's true, anymore. I think THIS is the book that Stephen King someday wants to write.
Heck, it's the book _I_ want to write.
26 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Believe & Partake! or The Meaning of Life, a la Bradbury,
I first read Ray Bradbury's miracle of a book, Dandelion Wine, when I was 16, and I have read it every year since. Over time I continue to gain a deeper appreciation for these lovely, strange, often magical vignettes (more properly parables, each one with a little implied moral) that explore the nature of happiness, the magic of love and, above all, what it means to be alive. To me, the overarching intent of the book is to remind all us adults that:
* Being alive means maintaining a balance between Discoveries & Revelations and Ceremonies & Rites. Though the latter are important, binding us to our family & our community, our future & our past, it is Discoveries & Revelations that make us think, experience, change, and grow.
* Being alive means living in the present. Even if this means giving away the tokens of a beloved past, as happens in one particularly poignant tale.
* Being alive means being connected with the world - with family, neighbors, your community, the earth. It's no coincidence that the mysterious murderer haunting Douglas Spaulding's Childhood is called The Lonely One.
* Being alive means being able to experience happiness ... not only understanding the nature of happiness, but possessing the wisdom not to let yourself be tricked into pursuing something that can't/won't make you happy.
* Being alive means recognizing the presence of magic in our everyday lives. Because magic is out there ... in the spring of a new pair of tennis shoes, in the mysteries of love, in the essence of Dandelion Wine.
Contrary to popular opinion, I do not believe Bradbury intended this to be a book about childhood. In fact, his 12yr old narrator, Douglas Spaulding, does not appear in many of the parables. I do think that Bradbury intentionally chose a child as his narrator, however, because children are inherently alive -- always discovering, always filled with wonder, connected to their family and the world and the present in ways that we begin gradually to forget as adults. Dandelion Wine is both nostalgia and a cautionary tale, challenging us to remember what it felt like to be alive and reminding us adults that - unless we take care - we may become so consumed by life that we forget to be alive.
As far as I am concerned, this book is a little bit of magic in and of itself: part essence of childhood, part elixir of wisdom. Believe and partake!
21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A series of metaphors about life in an active summer,
This is a chronicle of a simpler time in Middle America, often presented in the form of a metaphor. It is the summer of 1928, from opening day until the school supplies are readied for the first day of school in the fall. New sneakers, packed with enormous potential for running, jumping and general activity are one of the opening traditions of the summer. The title comes from the making of dandelion wine, which is considered to be a way to pack the emotions of summer into a bottle. Since the dandelion flower is yellow and round, it bears some resemblance to the sun.
As the story moves through the days of summer, there is the pain of a friend moving away, the fear of a major summer illness of a child, the death of a great grandmother, the concern over a haunted area of the town, and a women's social society. Through it all, there is a note of underlying mysticism, but it is simply humans in a small town doing what people did in small towns in those days. The introduction of the supernatural forces is clearly meant to be a set of metaphors for the usual unusual events over the course of an active summer. The best example of this is the happiness machine. One of the inhabitants builds a machine that mentally takes you to many of the exotic places in the Earth. However, the wife of the man who built it points out that it is a bad thing, because it makes you want to go places you can't. Furthermore, it doesn't make the supper, mend the clothes, clean the house, or do any of the routine, but necessary tasks of daily life.
One of the most moving segments was the death of the great grandmother, who dies contented, considering it just another event in a long life filled with many happy routines. The segment begins with a recapitulation of her life, all of the actions of cleaning, cooking and taking care of children. She makes one last sweep of the house to check on things, and then goes upstairs to her bed to die. She dispenses some last-minute advice about how to carry on, commenting that she will live on in her descendents. With that last act out of the way, she curls up in bed and quietly and peacefully dies.
Reading it took me back to the days when I was twelve and growing up in Iowa. We had our summer rituals, the places we avoided because of the spooks, our favorite fields and swimming places and we also let the doors slam behind us. Bradbury writes very well, but you cannot appreciate these stories if you take them too literally. However, if you are capable of thinking metaphorically, then this is the summers of my youth as well as the youth of millions of other active boys.
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bradbury's Dandelion Wine - pure classic in a bottle,
Until this weekend, I had almost forgotten.
As a child, and during high school I had read scores of Ray Bradbury's short story collections. From fright to fantasy, wide-eyed terror to wonder each tale had held me spellbound for a stretch. Some had confused and confounded, and some had left indelible heartfelt impressions and images ("Skeleton", "The Small Assassin", "...And Soft Rains Will Come") I still recall today.
After nearly two decades of absence from his works, Bradbury's 1950's masterpiece Dandelion Wine sparked a dusty light mental switch, and reawakened a dormant room in my subconscious. Now, during this hazy, greenly buzzing Illinois July far in time - but not far in space - from Bradbury's legendary Green Town of 1928, I saw it. I heard it. I felt it.
I understood exactly why this poetic, golden-green tale of a Waukegan childhood could not be comprehended in full by a reader of the protagonist's tender age. Only in the angled light of adulthood does this tale of memory, love, loss, youth and age, friendship and time ripen to its full bouquet.
Like the potent bottled summer that 12-year old Douglas Spaulding's grandfather employed to keep each day of the season perfectly capped in time, awaiting a future winter's day for its release, I finally uncorked this deliciously fragrant tale at just the right place and time. Pick up a copy, and select a quiet weekend day to open the cover. You'll be mesmerized in moments...and if not, just close the book and try again next summer.
There will come a time when this book will be exactly the ticket to transport you, whether in one year or twenty. It will wait; it only improves with time. Each chapter, whether short or long, appears first as a simple bloom: but like the dandelions in its title, these small golden blossoms contain far more than first meets the eye...upon closer examination, each one's roots pierce deep down into the fertile soil of the subconscious.
Dandelion Wine elicits emotions spanning the gamut of pure blazing noonday childhood joy that burns it image through smiling, closed eyelids - to the clammy neck-stiffening fear felt walking alone through a black ravine at midnight, with half-heard footsteps echoing a few paces behind you.
1928. It was a very good summer, indeed.
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of My Favorite Novels of All Time!,
I read this novel by Ray Bradbury every decade or so--the first time as a college student during the Vietnam War. And every time, though my life situation has changed, I come away refreshed and revitalized by this oh so poetic little novel. Set in the summer of 1928 in a small town in Illinois, this book follows the episodic adventures of twelve year old Douglas Spaulding. He finds comfort in the rituals of life: the new tennis shoes which permit him to run faster and jump higher than ever before, the sound of the first lawn mowing (rotary not power!) of the summer, the daily bottling of dandelion wine capturing the essence of each and every summer day. But he finds sadnesses too: the retirement of the wonderful trolley and their replacement by noisy, smelly buses; the departure of his best friend John Huff; the appearance in town of The Lonely One, a murderous threat. This book captures much of the beauty of boyhood, and captures, too, the poignancy of growing up. An intersting book to read in parallel is Bradbury's Someting Wicked This Way Comes--a similar setting, with similar boys, but in autumn this time--a time when the days are shorter and evil can appear. Bradbury is a wonderful writer, and I'll read Dandelion several more times. And, I suspect, enjoying it every bit as much.
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The pure refreshment of Lime-vanilla ice,
I enjoy the comfort of rituals. Every Spring, I am sure to appreciate the rebirth of the world by wearing flowers in my hair and reading Dandelion Wine in the warmth of the sun. Every reading brings me new lessons and insights into this mystery we call life. I savor each poetic gem, starting with Bradbury's Introduction which says, "If your boy is a poet, horse manure can only mean flowers to him; which is, of course what horse manure has always been about" to Douglas and Tom marveling at "all of the summer shelved and glimmering there in the motionless streams, the bottles of dandelion wine." Dandelion Wine feeds the poetic soul. I believe that there are some people "who get it" and some who just don't and never will. This amazing book is for those "who get it" and who are romantics, however deep down inside. I consider this book an optimistic version of Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye. Bradbury recognizes the same exceptional souls that "bruise easier, tire faster, remember longer and, as I say, get sadder younger than anyone else in the world" but Dandelion Wine fosters the purity in Douglas instead of smothering it out of him. Dandelion Wine is a collage of lives interrelated in Green Town. The candid snapshots of people's lives include a man who makes a Happiness Machine that brings despair, a human time machine, and a couple of soul mates whose lives "interlaced too late." All of these lives are being taken in by Doug Spalding, who is finding a new world through his twelve-year old eyes. I believe that everyone who knows what it is like to be different and to feel things more deeply than the majority does will relish in this book's unique sincerity.
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gorgeous summer memories,
This is a simple book, about a single summer in 1928.
It's a simple book, but it's FULL of things.
Full of everything.
Life itself lurks in the forest waiting to sneak up and attack anyone who wanders in, to overcome them with happiness and summer joy.
A boy calls foreign countries just to hear the noise of the streets.
A man loses himself in the smell of cut grass and the sounds of lawnmowers.
A stranger hides in late-night gullies.
A neighbor builds a happiness machine.
An old woman realizes she was never young.
A field grows yellow and green and yellow.
This book is full of wonderful moments, occasional magic, and Ray Bradbury's very best prose. It's proof that Bradbury isn't just a great science fiction writer--he's a great writer. It's guaranteed to fill you with memories of your own childhood summers, and to make you look forward to summer of next year.
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another misunderstood book,
First of all, I hate seeing people review a book by saying it's boring. If you think this book is boring it's likely because you were brought up on MTV and other garbage that has so shortened your attention span that you can't let things develop - you need to be hit over the head every few seconds and move on. As for plot, yes, there isn't much of one. There doesn't have to be! The book stands alone beautifully for its imagery, language and powers of observation. Therein lies the story. The reader is transported to another time and place so completely that you feel that you grew up with Bradbury himself and the result is exhilarating.
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Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury (Hardcover - February 1, 1999)