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The Summer of the Swans (Puffin Books) [Paperback]

Betsy Byars , Ted CoConis
3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
RRP: 3.53
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Book Description

27 July 1981 Puffin Books
The orange sneakers were typical of her mood. One minute Sara had been rather fond of them. The next she detested them, thought them as gross as her enormous feet, her impossible body, her ridiculous hair. And that was how it had been all summer. The elation of one moment would give way to tears the next, with no warning, for no reason.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 144 pages
  • Publisher: Puffin Books; New edition edition (27 July 1981)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0590337858
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140314205
  • ASIN: 0140314202
  • Product Dimensions: 19.8 x 12.9 x 1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 679,076 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

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Product Description

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 (c) 2000 by Penguin Putnam Books for Young Readers. All rights reserved."

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Sara Godfrey was lying on the bed tying a kerchief on the dog, Boysie. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

3.2 out of 5 stars
3.2 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Readers will identify with the protagonist, a young girl who feels awkward and self-concious. The girl forgets all about herself when her mentally handicapped brother becomes lost while searching for the beautiful swans he had seen earlier. The swans are symbolic of the girls' transition from ugly duckling to graceful young woman. I especially enjoyed how Byars develops the special relationship between brother and sister. A warm, gentle book.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A classic 15 Oct 2012
Ignore the reviews that damn this beautiful classic and ask yourself why it won the Newbery Medal. If another reviewer thinks of it as "boring" it is perhaps because it's no action/adventure story, nor does it contain witches or vampires, but it's highly sensitive and poignant - a wonderful book.
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2 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars This book was very boring at times, but... 3 Jun 2001
By A Customer
I think that this book was placed in the wrong age catogory. It should have been for a much younger age group. It lacks description, and the feeling older children, like myself need. My younger sister enjoyed it though.
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1 of 8 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
I read this book in sixth grade. As a sixth grader, I didn't look at novels the way I do now, but I hated it anyway. Ignoring writing conventions, plot, theme, and description, it is just plain boring. I'll read anything, and it bored me when I was a little kid! I wouldn't recommend this book to anyone with a brain.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 3.7 out of 5 stars  221 reviews
23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Summer of the Swans 6 Dec 2001
By Kristen Arnold - Published on
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.
36 of 40 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I Loved this book! 11 April 2000
By A Customer - Published on
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.
19 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Story About Sibling Bonds 26 Sep 2001
By A Customer - Published on
"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).
2 of 0 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars 4-stars! rules 4 Nov 2004
A Kid's Review - Published on
The Summer of the is a great book of much joy and sadness withn a blend of suspense thrown in.

The story is about an unhappy insecure girl named Sara whos brothers mentally retarted who insists that they go see the swans. Wanda Saras sister is basically the anti-Sara.Betsy Byars wrote an excellent book full of many feelings this book was great!

Overall this book is a mixed division of chracters with funny, sad,and insecure chracters also thrown in. I reccomend this book to all ages
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A good young adult novel 26 Dec 2001
By Matthew Gunia - Published on
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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