fiction favorites…Pinky Pye

Pinky Pye, by Eleanor Estes, illustrated by Edward Ardizzone

Pinky had the entire family including Papa, her first befriender, bewitched.  Sometimes Gracie and Ginger, who up to this time had not been fond of one another, would stand side by side, heads lowered and dejected, mouths hanging open as they heard the words of endearment that used to fall only on them bestowed upon the enchanting kitten…
To top all, Pinky was permitted to sit on Papa’s lap as he typed his learned notes, his conclusions based on a day with the terns and quail!
In the beginning Pinky sat quietly enough, her little head going back and forth, intelligently following the sentences as they appeared on the blank paper.  Next she tried catching the keys as they flew up.  Naturally this smart game intrigued Papa, and he paused to see what she would do after that.  She then tapped a key with one little front paw and, as it flew up, she caught it with the other front paw.  Sometimes letters appeared palely on the paper.  At first these pale letters coming on the hitherto white paper astonished Pinky; but then she performed this typing in a deliberate manner as though she knew what she was doing and what she was typing.  From time to time she surveyed her results critically.
None of the Pyes had ever heard of such brightness in a cat, and they were overcome with admiration.  Once Pinky actually spelled “woogie.”  This seemed to be a word, though no one had ever heard of it.

Pinky Pye is a sequel to Eleanor Estes’ Newbery-Medal-winning Ginger Pye.  It follows the ever-unexpected adventures of the Pye family, and it appears right near the top of my list of all-time  favorites.

Mr. Pye, the renowned ornithologist, has been sent to Fire Island to investigate the unlikely appearance there of a puffin, and for once, the entire Pye family is allowed to accompany him on the venture.  They set up in a quaint cottage — Papa, Mama, Jerry, Rachel, little Uncle Benny, Ginger the dog, and Gracie the cat — and settle in for a summer exploring new surroundings.

Before long, the Pyes are the owners of an abandoned, spunky, black kitten, named Pinky after the color of its tongue.  Pinky is much loved by Papa in particular, and when Papa fractures his foot and has to settle in to writing rather than tramping about the island with binoculars, Pinky’s amusing companionship is a pleasant diversion.  Pinky is diverted by far more than Papa and his typewriter, however.  In fact, Pinky is a keen observer of the entire Pye household, and because of that, Pinky learns secrets that the others are unaware of until it’s almost too late!

It’s impossible to discuss many of the plot details of this book without giving away far too much.  As the story rambles on, Estes introduces many disparate pieces, from crickets to sleeping bags to poison ivy, then weaves them masterfully together to create an absolutely charming package.  Meanwhile, the narrator of the story  is delightfully distractable, wandering blithely here and there in a very endearing fashion.  I  laugh aloud often as I read.

In addition, the illustrations are by the lovely Edward Ardizzone, the new (atrocious!) cover art notwithstanding.  This is a very happy circumstance.

Pinky Pye makes a fantastic family read-aloud, accessible to young listeners yet sophisticated enough with its wry humor for adults.  If you’ve read Ginger Pye first, you will better appreciate the references and characters in this story, but it is possible to enjoy it on its own.  Alas, there are no further Pye stories than these two!  Don’t miss them!

Here’s the Amazon link: Pinky Pye