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The Summer of the Swans Paperback – July 30, 1981


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The Summer of the Swans + Island of the Blue Dolphins + A Wrinkle in Time (Madeleine L'Engle's Time Quintet)
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 8 - 12 years
  • Grade Level: 3 - 7
  • Series: Puffin Books
  • Paperback: 144 pages
  • Publisher: Puffin; Reissue edition (July 30, 1981)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0590337858
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140314205
  • ASIN: 0140314202
  • Product Dimensions: 7.8 x 5.1 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 0.3 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (221 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #61,521 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

A compelling story of the longest day in a fourteen-year-old’s life. -- Publishers Weekly --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

About the Author

Betsy Byars began her writing career rather late in life. "In all of my school years, . . . not one single teacher ever said to me, 'Perhaps you should consider becoming a writer,'" Byars recalls. "Anyway, I didn't want to be a writer. Writing seemed boring. You sat in a room all day by yourself and typed. If I was going to be a writer at all, I was going to be a foreign correspondent like Claudette Colbert in Arise My Love. I would wear smashing hats, wisecrack with the guys, and have a byline known round the world. My father wanted me to be a mathematician." So Byars set out to become mathematician, but when she couldn't grasp calculus in college, she turned to English. Even then, writing was not on her immediate horizon.

First, she married and started a family. The writing career didn't emerge until she was 28, a mother of two children, and living in a small place she called the barracks apartment, in Urbana, Illinois. She and her husband, Ed, had moved there in 1956 so he could attend graduate school at the University of Illinois. She was bored, had no friends, and so turned to writing to fill her time. Byars started writing articles for The Saturday Evening Post, Look,and other magazines. As her family grew and her children started to read, she began to write books for young people and, fortunately for her readers, discovered that there was more to being a writer than sitting in front of a typewriter.

"Making up stories and characters is so interesting that I'm never bored. Each book has been a different writing experience. It takes me about a year to write a book, but I spend another year thinking about it, polishing it, and making improvements. I always put something of myself into my books -- something that happened to me. Once a wanderer came by my house and showed me how to brush my teeth with a cherry twig; that went in The House of Wingscopyright © 2000 by Penguin Putnam Books for Young Readers. All rights reserved.


More About the Author

Betsy Byars is a Newbery Medal winner and a National Book Award winner. Her books have appeared on the best books lists of the American Library Association, School Library Journal, and American Bookseller, among others.

Customer Reviews

This is one of the most boring books I've ever read.
Miss Hater
In addition, Sara's struggle - as most teenager's struggle - to fit in the world is very well depicted.
Brigitte
The story has very short chapters and a very happy ending.
DONALD G. FOX

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

36 of 40 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 10, 2000
Format: Paperback
This book was about a girl named Sara, who's brother Charlie is mentally retarted. Sara, Charlie, and their sister Wanda, all live with their Aunt Willie. Charlie loves to go to the lake and watch the swans. So, Sara takes him one day, but it starts to get dark,and he doesn't want to go home. That night as Charlie lies in bed, he hears the swans. He follows them. It is dark outside, and he gets lost. The next morning Sara, Wanda, and Aunt Willie realize Charlie is missing, so the town starts out to look for him. Will they find him? I couldn't put this book down. I just wanted to find out what was going to happen next.
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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Kristen Arnold on December 5, 2001
Format: Paperback
The Summer of the Swans, by Betsy Byars, is a heartwarming story about the longest day in the life of a fourteen year old . A wonderfull theme emerges from the story that every child should hear.
The story is about a day in Sara's fourteenth summer. She had spend the whole summer feeling sorry for herself. She only saw that she had enormous feet, and impulsive body, and ridiculous hair. She had deep envy for her older sister and really had very low self esteem. She spent her time crying and feeling sorry for herself. Children will likely relate to the exact thing Sara is going through, especially those who are coming of age.
Everything changes for Sara when her mentally handicapped brother, Charlie, comes up missing. During her frantic search for her brother, she forgets her own problems and focuses her energy on something else.
The theme emerges from her discovery. During the worst day of her life, she learns what it means to care more about someone else then yourself. This theme could really change readers way of thinking. It is something that she didn't understand completely until that day. Maybe children will learn the lesson without having to go through such a trauma as Sara's.
Summer of the Swans is a wonderful, heartwarming story that is well deserving of the Newbery award. The characters are identifiable and there is a theme that every child needs to hear and take practice in.
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19 of 22 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 25, 2001
Format: Paperback
"The Summer of the Swans" is about the day when Sara Godfrey's mentally handicapped brother Charlie disappears after visiting the swans at the lake. Nobody is sure what happened to him, but everyone expects the worst because it's not typical for Charlie to have run off alone.
Sara feels responsible for losing her brother since she's the closest to him. Aunt Willie also blames herself because she had promised Sara and Charlie's dead mother she would protect him--and now he's gone.
Soon a search party gathers and everyone begins to look for the missing ten-year-old.
Even though "The Summer of the Swans" is primarily about the search for Charlie, Sara's family life begins to open up and we discover the different relationships she has with her simple younger brother Charlie, her overbearing aunt Willie, her older sister Wanda, and her remote father.
The recommended age group for this book is 8 - 12, but I would recommend it to anyone who has a mentally handicapped family member or can somehow relate with the story. It's easy reading and moves along rather quickly--the chapters are short and there are a few illustrations by Ted CoConis.
"The Summer of the Swans" won the Newbery Award in 1971. The book was later made into a TV movie in 1974 (aka "Sara's Summer of the Swans"), which I never saw because it was made before I was born.
I also recommend reading "The Falcon's Wing" by Dawna Lisa Buchanan (mentally handicapped family member).
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Matthew Gunia VINE VOICE on December 25, 2001
Format: Paperback
The main character of this novel is Sarah, a girl in her early teens who is experiencing a "coming of age" summer. When the novel begins, Sarah is at an ebb in her young life--she feels self-conscious about her physical appearance (without tangents on breast size or her menstral cycle (thank you), making this a book very appropriate for a classroom) and her inability to interact in a meaningful way with the two most important women (read: role models) in her life--her older sister and her Aunt Willie, who is raising her. It is during this coming of age process that Sarah's younger, mentally handicapped brother, Charlie wanders out of the backyard in the middle of the night and gets lost in the woods. While the plot is relatively straight forward--Charlie gets lost and Sarah participates in a search to find him--this novel is an good one because of the excellent development of the main character.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful A Kid's Review on April 7, 2005
Format: Paperback
The Summer of the Swans took place in the city and in Aunt Willie's house. Sara, Charlie and Wanda are all brothers and sisters.Their mom died six years ago. Aunt Willie took care of them. She loves them in her own way. Sometimes she is awfully rude and loud and mean. Sara loves the swans and takes Charlie to the pond Charlie likes them so much that he runs out of home in the middle of the night but he gets lost in the forest. It makes them difficult to find him because when he was a little kid. He had two illness that afected his hearing and talking. He thinks he is three years old but he is really ten.

I give this book 4 stars out of 5, because it was interesting and readable. I really recommend this book, even though it is really sad, yet happy. If you read this book you will understand how Sara feels. I did not like when they were in the forest looking for Charlie. The story got boring, it had too many chapters about the forest. It was mostly the ending I didn't like. I couldn't put it down and I bet you won't be able to put it down either.

Yadira

Madison, WI.
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