HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW
Book: Return to Gone-Away
Author: Elizabeth Enright
Illustrators: Joe and Beth Krush
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers, republished in 2000
ISBN-13: 978-0152022631 (Hardcover)
ISBN-10: 0152022635 (Hardcover)
ISBN-13: 978-0152022563 (Paperback)
ISBN-10: 0152022562 (Paperback)
Related website: http://www.hmhbooks.com (publisher)
Language level: 2
(1=nothing objectionable; 2=common euphemisms and/or childish slang terms; 3=some cursing or profanity; 4=a lot of cursing or profanity; 5=obscenity and/or vulgarity)
Recommended reading level: Ages 8 and up
Rating: ***** 5 stars (EXCELLENT)
Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker
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Enright, Elizabeth. Return to Gone-Away (published in 1961 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company, 215 Park Ave. S., New York City, NY 10003). In the 1958 Newbery Honor book Gone-Away Lake, author Elizabeth Enright (1909-1968), who already had a Newbery Medal for her 1938 Thimble Summer, tells the story of ten-year-old Portia Blake and her six-year-old brother Foster of New York City who go to spend their summer vacation with their Uncle Jake, Aunt Hilda, and cousin Julian Jarman in the country, where they discover an abandoned Victorian resort community next to a bog that that used to be called Tarrigo Lake, but is now known as Gone-Away Lake. There they meet elderly siblings Mr. Pindar Payton and Mrs. Lionel Alexis (Minnehaha) Cheever, whom they call Uncle Pin and Aunt Min. They also find an abandoned mansion, the Villa Caprice built by the wealthy Mrs. Brace-Gideon with which they fall in love.
In this sequel, the Paul and Barbara Blake decide to buy and restore the Villa Caprice at Gone-Away, spending the entire next summer there. A lot of work has to be done to clean and brighten the old house. Along the way many treasures are discovered, and numerous adventures are enjoyed. Aunt Min remembers that Mrs. Brace-Gideon had a secret safe hidden somewhere in the house, so Porsh and Jule begin looking for it. After searching and searching, they almost give it up. Where could it be? Will they ever locate it? If they do, will it contain anything valuable? Some parents may want to know that one main character smokes a pipe, a few common euphemisms (heck, confound it, doggone) occur, and there is a reference to reading a book entitled Mme. Vavasour’s Gypsy-Witch Fortune Teller. However, one of Uncle Pin’s prized possessions is an old copy, in Latin, of the “Canticle of the Sun” by Francis of Assisi, which begins, “Praised be my Lord with all his creatures.” He translates and reads it to the kids.
Return to Gone-Away is a thoroughly adorable story, the kind which kids can take outside on a lazy summer’s day, lie in the hammock under the shade of a tree, and read for pure pleasure. The School Library Journal noted, “Enright’s world is a gentle one, full of children playing in an unstructured way, exploring both the house and the wonders of nature surrounding it, and willingly visiting with their elderly neighbors and listening to their stories.” This is certainly part of what makes it such a pleasant read. And the Chicago Tribune said, “One of those rare and wonderful books to be read and enjoyed and savored.” I agree wholeheartedly. As far as I am concerned, children’s literature for middle grade readers just doesn’t get much better than this, and it gets a high recommendation from me.