fiction favorites…Ginger Pye

Ginger Pye, by Eleanor Estes 

So they still knew nothing more about the unsavory character than they had before, except that he had become a very real person whom the Pyes had to watch out for. 

Unsavory character.  It sounded like a name.  “Unsavory could be his first name.  And Character his last,” suggested Rachel. “ “Like in colonial times.  It sounds like those names.”

“M-m-m,” said Jerry.

Why did that person persist in thinking he could get hold of their puppy?  Ginger belonged to the Pyes.  He already had a name, Ginger Pye, and he already had a little leather collar around his neck made out of one of Rachel’s old skate straps.  Anyone could see he really belonged…And to keep him safe and sound, they wouldn’t let him out of the backyard by himself until he was old enough to bark like the dickens, and even bite, if anybody tried to make off with him.


Jerry Pye is a 10-year-old boy living in the small, friendly town of Cranbury.  More than anything else he wants a dog; and not just any dog, either.  He has a puppy all picked out.  Jerry and his little sister Rachel work hard to earn the dollar to pay for this puppy, and thus they come to own what they are sure is the most intelligent dog in the world.  They name him Ginger Pye.  However, a mysterious stranger in a mustard-yellow hat also seems to have his eye on Ginger.  Despite the family’s vigilance, on Thanksgiving Day their puppy is stolen from the yard.  The whole Pye family, led by Jerry, search diligently for their beloved dog, but it is a long, frustrating search before the sweet reunion finally takes place. 

This is a Newbery-winning book from 1952 which makes a great read-aloud for about 7 and up.  It is full of ingredients children enjoy – lovable dogs, sinister strangers, intrigue, and an assortment of small tales and adventures along the way.  Meanwhile, it is a quirky story with a narrator who whooshes off on elaborate tangents as quickly as you please, an assortment of fairly-eccentric characters,  from the Perpendicular Swimmer to the fictitious Martin Boombernickles, and even an engagement story which redefines whirlwind romance.  In short, it is a book to be read in a lighthearted manner, chuckling at the earnest innocence of the narrator at the same time as rooting for Jerry to find his dog, Ginger.  We love this one, as well as its sequel Pinky Pye.