My reading quest is to read a book by an author from each state and I have made it to Illinois!
The book was Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury. I loved this book so much I read it twice!!!! I would give grudgingly give this book five stars! and that is because I’d give it 500 stars is I could!
It has been described as a nostalgic “autobiographical fantasy”. Bradbury has recreated childhood memories of his hometown, Waukegan, Illinois, known in the book at Green Town.
Set during the summer of 1928, the main character is Douglas Stratton. The title refers to a wine made with dandelion petals by Douglas’s grandfather, and refers to packing all the joys of summer into one bottle (or one book).A series of short stories, they are loosely connected with Douglas and his family as recurring characters. In fact, many of the chapters were published as individual short stories between 1946-1957. While the plots are realistic, there is a touch of fantasy and magic along the way!
Some of the wonderful things that appear in the book are:
- When Douglas goes with his father and brother to pick fox grapes, he comes to the realization that he is alive and finds it “glorious”.
“I’m ALIVE. Thinking about it, noticing it, is new. You do things and don’t watch. Then all of a sudden you look and see what you’re doing and it’s the first time, really”.
- A neighbor attempts to make a “happiness machine” in his garage.
- Douglas and his brother meet a living “Time Machine”, a 90+ Colonel who lived in the Old West, during the Civil War for starters.
- A serial killer on the loose in the town is referred to as “The Lonely One.
- While at an amusement park, the boys get fortunes from a mechanical Tarot Witch, believing they have been given special fortunes in invisible ink.
Ray Bradbury said that Douglas is based on himself. In fact, “Douglas” was his middle name, and “Spaulding” was his father’s middle name. It is the first book of a trilogy continuing with SOMETHING WICKED THIS WAY COMES and FAREWELL SUMMER.
In 1972, the Apollo 15 astronauts named a moon crater “Dandelion Crater” after this novel!
I love to include facts about each state too – so here are some facts about Illinois:
- The first Aquarium opened in Chicago in 1893
- Metropolis, the home of Superman, is located in Southern Illinois.
- Illinois was the first state for ratify the 13th Amendment, which abolished slavery.
- Des Plaines is the home of the first McDonald’s.
- President Ronald Reagan was born in Illinois.
- The state dance is the square dance.
- Illinois has more personalized license plates than any other state.
- The Chicago Public Library is the world’s largest public library with a collection of over 2 million books (I need to visit it!)
Here are some (what I consider magical) quotes from the book:
- “Bees do have a smell, you know, and if they don’t they should, for their feet are dusted with spices from a million flowers.”
- “The first thing you learn in life is you’re a fool. The last thing you learn in life is you’re the same fool.
- “No person ever died that had a family.”
- “Sunsets are always liked because they only happen once and go away……If the sunset stayed and we got bored, that would be real sadness.”
- No matter how hard you try to be what you once were, you can only be what you are here and now.”
Now I will be reading books by authors from Indiana and Iowa. If you have any favorite authors from those states, let me know!