Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Thimbleberry Stories

Thimbleberry Stories

Cynthia Rylant
Illustrator:  Maggie Kneen 
For ages 6 to 8
HMH Books for Young Readers, 2006   ISBN: 978-0152056452

Nigel Chipmunk lives in a cottage on Thimbleberry Lane. He is a very house proud little animal and tends to his house every day so that it looks spic and span. Its blue paint is always shiny, and the gazebo is always ready for entertaining. The animals who live on Thimbleberry Lane are sociable creatures and often spend the evening at one another’s homes “sharing secrets, their laughter making the candlelight flicker in the dark.”

   One day Nigel is out and about when he hears a noise, and when he investigates he finds out that someone new has moved into the neighborhood. The house of the newcomer is extremely small and round and when Nigel meets the occupant he sees why. The newcomer is Dipper, and he is a hummingbird. Dipper used to live in the poppy gardens with all the other hummingbirds, but he wants “variety,” so he has come to live in Thimbleberry Lane. Nigel soon finds out why Dipper wants variety. The little bird is an artist and he needs news things to paint. Soon the fast-moving bird is having tea at Nigel’s house and Nigel’s walls are covered with Dipper’s beautiful little masterpieces.

   Nigel is lucky to have lots of friends, all of whom have their own unique peculiarities. Dipper, unlike Nigel, does not care much about how his home looks. He is much too interested in painting to worry about housekeeping. Little Owl, on the other hand, is very particular about how his home is arranged. So particular in fact that he comes to Nigel to ask for the chipmunk’s help when he has a redecorating problem. When Nigel gets to Little Owls home, he can see that his exhausted friend does indeed have a problem; the house is in a shambles. Poor Little Owl added something to his décor and now nothing fits the way it should. Try as he might, Little Owl cannot arrange things to his satisfaction. He needs Nigel to sort things out.

   In this heartwarming collection of four stories we get to visit a delightful place where animals live together in friendship, and where they share special times together. Their acceptance of each other, and patience with each other’s foibles, will show young readers what true friendships are like. Readers might find themselves wishing that they could jump into the pages so that they can eat strawberry pie with Nigel and his friends.