Dandelion Wine

( 77 )


The summer of '28 was a vintage season for a growing boy. A summer of green apple trees, mowed lawns, and new sneakers. Of half-burnt firecrackers, of gathering dandelions, of Grandma's belly-busting dinner. It was a summer of sorrows and marvels and gold-fuzzed bees. A magical, timeless summer in the life of a twelve-year-old boy named Douglas Spaulding—remembered forever by the incomparable Ray Bradbury.
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The summer of '28 was a vintage season for a growing boy. A summer of green apple trees, mowed lawns, and new sneakers. Of half-burnt firecrackers, of gathering dandelions, of Grandma's belly-busting dinner. It was a summer of sorrows and marvels and gold-fuzzed bees. A magical, timeless summer in the life of a twelve-year-old boy named Douglas Spaulding—remembered forever by the incomparable Ray Bradbury.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Bradbury is an authentic original."—Time
Library Journal
Bradbury's (www.raybradbury.com) 1957 semiautobiographical novel, after which a crater on the moon is named, captures the very heart and soul of childhood, from terror of the dark to the delight of running in new sneakers. Set in 1928 Illinois, the tale revolves around the summertime adventures of a 12-year-old boy. Owing both to Bradbury's storytelling skills and Audie Award winner Stephen Hoye's excellent rendering of the characters, these adventures will translate to listeners as shared memories. Highly recommended for all libraries and the many kids—no matter what age—they serve. [Robert Fass reads Bradbury's sequel to this novel, Farewell Summer (2006), available from AudioGO; an alternate unabridged recording of Dandelion Wine, read by Paul Michael Garcia, is concurrently available from Blackstone Audio.—Ed.]—Theresa Connors, Arkansas Tech Univ. Lib., Russellville
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780553277531
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 3/28/1985
  • Series: Grand Master Editions Series
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Edition description: REV
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 239
  • Sales rank: 63,043
  • Lexile: 880L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 4.17 (w) x 6.87 (h) x 0.67 (d)

Meet the Author

Ray Bradbury

In a career spanning more than seventy years, Ray Bradbury, who died on June 5, 2011 at the age of 91, inspired generations of readers to dream, think, and create. A prolific author of hundreds of short stories and close to fifty books, as well as numerous poems, essays, operas, plays, teleplays, and screenplays, Bradbury was one of the most celebrated writers of our time. His groundbreaking works include Fahrenheit 451, The Martian Chronicles, The Illustrated Man, Dandelion Wine, and Something Wicked This Way Comes. He wrote the screen play for John Huston's classic film adaptation of Moby Dick, and was nominated for an Academy Award. He adapted sixty-five of his stories for television's The Ray Bradbury Theater, and won an Emmy for his teleplay of The Halloween Tree. He was the recipient of the 2000 National Book Foundation Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters, the 2004 National Medal of Arts, and the 2007 Pulitzer Prize Special Citation, among many honors.

Throughout his life, Bradbury liked to recount the story of meeting a carnival magician, Mr. Electrico, in 1932. At the end of his performance Electrico reached out to the twelve-year-old Bradbury, touched the boy with his sword, and commanded, "Live forever!" Bradbury later said, "I decided that was the greatest idea I had ever heard. I started writing every day. I never stopped."


Ray Bradbury is one of those rare individuals whose writing has changed the way people think. His more than 500 published works -- short stories, novels, plays, screenplays, television scripts, and verse -- exemplify the American imagination at its most creative.

Once read, his words are never forgotten. His best-known and most beloved books -- The Martian Chronicles, The Illustrated Man, Fahrenheit 451, and Something Wicked This Way Comes -- are masterworks that readers carry with them over a lifetime. His timeless, constant appeal to audiences young and old has proven him to be one of the truly classic authors of the 20th Century -- and the 21st.

Ray Bradbury's work has been included in several Best American Short Story collections. He has been awarded the O. Henry Memorial Award, the Benjamin Franklin Award, the World Fantasy Award for Lifetime Achievement, the Grand Master Award from the Science Fiction Writers of America, and the PEN Center USA West Lifetime Achievement Award, among others. In recognition of his stature in the world of literature and the impact he has had on so many for so many years, Bradbury was awarded the National Book Foundation's 2000 Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters and the National Medal of Arts in 2004.

On the occasion of his 80th birthday in August 2000, Bradbury said, "The great fun in my life has been getting up every morning and rushing to the typewriter because some new idea has hit me. The feeling I have every day is very much the same as it was when I was twelve. In any event, here I am, eighty years old, feeling no different, full of a great sense of joy, and glad for the long life that has been allowed me. I have good plans for the next ten or twenty years, and I hope you'll come along."

Good To Know

In our exclusive interview with Bradbury, he shared some fascinating facts with us:

"I spent three years standing on a street corner, selling newspapers, making ten dollars a week. I did that job every day for three hours and the rest of the time I wrote because I was in love with writing. The answer to all writing, to any career for that matter, is love."

"I have been inspired by libraries and the magic they contain and the people that they represent."

"I hate all politics. I don't like either political party. One should not belong to them -- one should be an individual, standing in the middle. Anyone that belongs to a party stops thinking."

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    1. Also Known As:
      Leonard Douglas, William Elliott, Douglas Spaulding, Leonard Spaulding
      Ray Bradbury
    2. Hometown:
      Los Angeles, California
    1. Date of Birth:
      August 22, 1920
    2. Place of Birth:
      Waukegan, Illinois
    1. Education:
      Attended schools in Waukegan, Illinois, and Los Angeles, California
    2. Website:

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

Itwas a quiet morning, the town covered over with darkness and at ease in bed. Summer gathered in the weather, the wind had the proper touch, the breathing of the world was long and warm and slow. You had only to rise, lean from your window, and know that this indeed was the first real time of freedom and living, this was the first morning of summer.

Douglas Spaulding, twelve, freshly wakened, let summer idle him on its early-morning stream. Lying in his third-story cupola bedroom, he felt the tall power it gave him, riding high in the June wind, the grandest tower in town. At night, when the trees washed together, he flashed his gaze like a beacon from this lighthouse in all directions over swarming seas of elm and oak and maple. Now . . .

"Boy," whispered Douglas.

A whole summer ahead to cross off the calendar, day by day. Like the goddess Siva in the travel books, he saw his hands jump everywhere, pluck sour apples, peaches, and midnight plums. He would be clothed in trees and bushes and rivers. He would freeze, gladly, in the hoarfrosted icehouse door. He would bake, happily, with ten thousand chickens, in Grandma's kitchen.

But now-a familiar task awaited him.

One night each week he was allowed to leave his father, his mother, and his younger brother Tom asleep in their small house next door and run here, up the dark spiral stairs to his grandparents' cupola, and in this sorcerer's tower sleep with thunders and visions, to wake before the crystal jingle of milk bottles and perform his ritual magic.He stood at the open window in the dark, took a deep breath and exhaled.

The street lights, likecandles on a black cake, went out. He exhaled again and again and the stars began to vanish.

Douglas smiled. He pointed a finger.

There, and there. Now over here, and here . . .

Yellow squares were cut in the dim morning earth as house lights winked slowly on. A sprinkle of windows came suddenly alight miles off in dawn country.

"Everyone yawn. Everyone up."

The great house stirred below.

"Grandpa, get your teeth from the water glass!" He waited a decent interval. "Grandma and Great-grandma, fry hot cakes!"

The warm scent of fried batter rose in the drafty halls to stir the boarders, the aunts, the uncles, the visiting cousins, in their rooms.

"Street where all the Old People live, wake up! Miss Helen Loomis, Colonel Freeleigh, Miss Bentley! Cough, get up, take pills, move around! Mr. Jonas, hitch up your horse, get your junk wagon out and around!"

The bleak mansions across the town ravine opened baleful dragon eyes. Soon, in the morning avenues below, two old women would glide their electric Green Machine, waving at all the dogs. "Mr. Tridden, run to the carbarn!" Soon, scattering hot blue sparks above it, the town trolley would sail the rivering brick streets.

"Ready John Huff, Charlie Woodman?" whispered Douglas to the Street of Children. "Ready!" to baseballssponged deep in wet lawns, to rope swings hung empty in trees.

"Mom, Dad, Tom, wake up."

Clock alarms tinkled faintly. The courthouse clock boomed. Birds leaped from trees like a net thrown by his hand, singing. Douglas, conducting an orchestra, pointed to the eastern sky.

The sun began to rise.

He folded his arms and smiled a magician's smile. Yes, sir, he thought, everyone jumps, everyone runs when I yell. It'll be a fine season.

He gave the town a last snap of his fingers.

Doors slammed open; people stepped out.

Summer 1928 began.

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Reading Group Guide


Twelve-year-old Douglas Spaulding arises on an early June morning in a small bedroom in the cupola of his grandparents' house. As Douglas looks out the window, the small town of Green Town, Illinois awakens, and Doug is filled with the joy of being alive. And so begins the summer of 1928 as re-imagined by Ray Bradbury in his novel Dandelion Wine, a rich, evocative tale of a summer long past and its memories, joys, and frustrations.

The central metaphor of the novel is the creation of Dandelion Wine, which becomes a distillation of the summer's days and may be reopened and revisited during the bleak winter months to come.

Throughout the summer, Douglas and his brother, Tom, also record, in a notepad, specific incidents and lessons learned. One of the first lessons Douglas learns is that adults and children are different species. The brothers also come to the conclusion that old people were never children.

But while the summer seems idyllic, darker things, such as change and death, lurk in the background. Douglas is exposed to these through a series of events that include the loss of best friend (who moves away) and the death of his great-grandmother. The ravine and a serial killer called the "Lonely One" are embodiments of the fear of death and change.

As a result of these events, Douglas falls into a fever, but is saved by the town's junk man, Mr. Jonas, who gives the boy two bottles of pure winter air, which break the fever. When Doug and Tom see new school supplies displayed in the dime store window, they realize that summer is coming to an end.

Questions for Discussion

1. In hisdescription of the making of Dandelion Wine, Bradbury describes the significance of what is bottled and how a bottle of wine preserves a certain summer day for the bleak winter months (pp. 13-16). How is the metaphor of Dandelion Wine the central metaphor to the story Bradbury tells? What is Bradbury saying about memory and its importance in the make-up of any given person?

2. Leo Auffman, an inventor, attempts to build a "happiness machine." His wife is skeptical and thinks the whole idea is misguided. Why does she feel this way? After the machine is built and Leo's son and wife go inside (p. 67) why are they so unhappy? What, ultimately, does the machine do to people and why does it fail so miserably? How does this incident tie in with other scenes of the novel where Bradbury reflects on what happiness truly is?

3. What is the significance of the ravine to the story? In what way does the ravine reflect the untamed or uncivilized side of life?

4. Several young girls convince Mrs. Bentley to deny her past and that she was ever a child. Later, Mrs. Bentley recalls a discussion with her late husband, in which he argued that a person can only be the person he or she is at the present moment and all of the past is another person [p. 82]. Upon reflection, Mrs. Bentley decides to give all of her things away to the girls. Is Mrs. Bentley right in denying she had a past? Is Bradbury's entire novel essentially a refutation of Mr. and Mrs. Bentley's position?

5. Throughout the novel, Douglas and his younger brother, Tom, keep a written record of what they learn and discover during the summer. Does this accounting reflect what they actually learn? Why or why not?

6. Who is the "Lonely One" and what is his function in the novel? Why is he connected with the ravine? Does Lavinia Nebbs actually kill him in her home [p. 194]? Why do Douglas and his friends refuse to believe that the man Lavinia killed was the "Lonely One?"

7. Douglas falls ill with a fever late in the novel and the doctor is mystified as to his illness. What causes Douglas's illness and how does Jonas, the traveling junk dealer, cure him?

8. At the end of the novel, Bradbury states that Douglas puts an end to the summer of 1928 when he goes to sleep. However, immediately prior to this statement Douglas reflects that he can go stare at the bottles of Dandelion Wine that are dated for each day of the summer until he recalls the day. Does the summer of 1928 truly end? What do you think of Bradbury's evocation of the summer?

Farewell Summer is the sequel to Dandelion Wine. In case you would like to include Dandelion Wine as part of your discussion, as well, here are some questions that address both novels to help you direct your reading group's conversation.

1. The ravine figures largely in both novels, but is treated differently in each. How is the ravine different in each novel? Does it have the same importance in both stories? Are there any similarities between the two novels in the representation of the ravine?

2. Both novels contain a scene in which organization is considered stifling. In Dandelion Wine, the aunt organizes the grandmother's kitchen and the grandmother is no longer able to cook. In Farewell Summer, part of the reason the boys attack the clock at the old courthouse is because the courthouse symbolizes where their lives are recorded and organized. What is Bradbury saying about the power of bureaucracy and organization in these two scenes? Must this power be thrown off completely, or can some accommodation be made with it? Does each novel present the same conclusion about this power?

3. Both novels present a piece of a past boyhood summer. How are the depictions of the past summers different in each novel? Are both depictions nostalgic? Why or why not?

4. How is the character of Douglas different in each of the two novels? How is he the same? What are the reasons for the similarities and differences?

5. Both novels deal with the theme of the fear of death. In Dandelion Wine, the losses with which Douglas deals lead to his fever. In Farewell Summer, this fear leads to war. How is the fear of death "cured" in each novel? How are the cures similar or different? Why do you think Douglas is so preoccupied with death?

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 77 )
Rating Distribution

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 77 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 14, 2008

    Better than Expected

    When I started reading Dandelion Wine, I didn't really like it. In fact, I started to regret choosing it, and I wasn't sure if I would be able to get through the rest of the book. The style of writing wasn't what I normally read, and I felt like a lot of the descriptions and scenes just dragged on too slowly. I also didn't care about the characters, and this made the stories less intriguing. I was irritated that many of the stories didn't seem to connect with each other. However, once I got further into the book, I enjoyed the stories to a greater extent. Once I read more, I could get more involved with the characters and feel their emotions, whether it was happiness, grief, or anger. I got used to Bradbury's descriptive style, and the action of the stories made reading the book more enjoyable. The more I read, the more I saw that the stories were weaved together, so that even if one story was unrelated to another, they all contributed to the overall theme of the book. Bradbury's stories were thoroughly original, and the characters were all unique and memorable. It was fun to read about happiness machines, time machines, and childhood games. I liked that Bradbury's stories always seemed to have a 'moral' included. His overall message seemed to be that we should enjoy our lives, our families, and the time that we have to be happy. By the time I reached the end of the book, my initial take on Dandelion Wine was completely turned around. I would definitely read this book again, and I would recommend it for others to read as well

    16 out of 17 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 23, 2013

    Best book Ever

    This book will take you back to childhood b4 electronics to a time when bicycles ruled and new sneakers meant you could run faster and jump higher. One of the best literary works ever.

    10 out of 10 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 8, 2012

    Incredible. Bradbury captures the feelings of childhood that you

    Incredible. Bradbury captures the feelings of childhood that you had forgotten you had or weren't old enough to appreciate at the time. An amazing book and one that I'm sure to read every couple years.

    7 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 2, 2010

    Beautiful Writing!

    Some books pull you in and don't let you out, until they end and even sometimes after. This book didn't hold you hostage like some, but that doesn't mean it was boring. The writing was very beautiful and vivid. I could see everything; the words were so descriptive. In some ways, it actually did draw me into the world of Dandelion Wine because the writing was so clear, but the exit to reality was always clear.
    This book is a coming of age book. The main character, Douglas, is exploring life and if you love or even like books like that, you will enjoy this book. Also if you enjoy books that describe the earlier twentieth century, you would enjoy this book.
    This book is almost like a bunch of short stories, but they all tie into the themes of the book, which is accepting life but also death, enjoying the now, living life, and looking to the future. The view flirts back from person to person, but always returns to Douglas; to tell his story.
    The lesser characters also help tell this story. They are so individual, but they all teach you the same lessons, or themes, from this book. They are suspecting, wise, thoughtful, charming, foolish, frightened, brave, happy, regretful, hilarious, positive, inventive, hateful, and brilliant. From the inventor Mr. Leo Auffmann and his happiness machine, to wise Mr. Jonas and his "no ordinary junk" wagon, these characters show how much personality a little town can have.
    I also enjoyed the symbolism in here, because there were quite a few examples, the dandelion wine, grandma's kitchen, the "colored window panes on the little round windows", the happiness machine, Colonel Freeleigh and even the green machine, are parts of the story, but also more. These "symbols" delve into the reader's imagination and they also invite the reader to look deeper into this charming little world titled Dandelion Wine.
    Sadly there are some parts that I didn't like, very few, that were a bit to morbid for me. I didn't enjoy some parts towards the end, but on the whole I really enjoyed this book.
    I think you should read this book if: you love books that describe a coming of age, the 1950's roughly,(like I said above,) beautiful writing inspires you, exquisite characters make you laugh, you need to laugh, you enjoy thinking, a book you can put down sounds good write now, wise catch phrases or quotes, (because you can get many from this book,) you have read way to many sad books and you are in a rut because of that, or you need to come to peace with death and living, because this book will help you in all of this.
    You shouldn't read this book if: you hate reading, you hate books, you hate paper because it kills trees, you love fantasy, that includes dragons and swords so much that, that is all you can read. Seriously I don't really think a lot of people would hate it, but some might find it a little boring. I definitely don't though. I seriously recommend this book to anyone who is willing to hear my opinion.

    6 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 30, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    This is now one of my FAVORITE books!

    This book made me remember what being a kid was like. The innocence, the point of view, everything is just absolutely incredible. How he can describe the way he viewed the world as a child is amazing to me. This book is a true inspiration and lets you look at life as if every moment is something to savor. I ended this book feeling as though I haven't lived life to its fullest and made the most of every day as I did as a child. I'd recommend this book to absolutely anyone!

    5 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 26, 2007

    Wonderful Book

    This book is absolutely amazing!! the imagery is great! This book brought back so many memories. Those who don't understand this book or dont like it, probly didn't open up thier imagination. I highly recommend This book, Dandelion Wine.

    5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 11, 2007

    A reviewer

    The style of writing in this book is so perfect. I can understand how some people wouldn't like it because it switches to different stories in almost every chapter but that's what makes it so enjoyable. I loved the characters. For me it was kind of hard to get into it but about one third of the way through I started really enjoying it. Everything is detailed in such a unique way. I love Ray Bradbury books but I would recommend this to adults mostly or people who want to relive childhood innocence.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 4, 2002

    Boring, then interesting

    I had to read DANDELION WINE for my 8th grade Spectrum class, and I have to admit that is WAS pretty boring for awhile. Doug's supposed to be the main character and hardly anything happens to him. But once you get to The Lonely One's big role, it starts to get interesting. It's not my type of book, but it DOES make you think.

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 1, 2000

    One of my favorites

    I love reading books about childhood and coming of age because they take me back to the times when everything in my life was an adventure and nothing was taken for granted. This is a truly beautiful book which does just those things and more. I recommend it to everyone. When you read it, pay special attention to the life of the old woman.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 22, 2005

    Incredibly different from the rest

    The frist few pages capture you because of its vivid description. After you get a movie on and the momentum builds up then the full effect starts kicking in. it may take a while to appreciate, but trust me it's worth the hours to read it.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 26, 2002

    You can go home again

    I have read this book over and over many times throughout my life and it has never failed to provide some new insight with each reading. Mr. Bradbury has a way of looking inside of the reader and sharing his most personal experiences. The next best thing to actually re-visiting childhood. Highly recommended for any reader with an imagination and a yearning heart.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 3, 2000

    #1 book ever

    whoever says this book is boring did not finish the novel. I am 19 and it is the only book throughout high school I was made to read and actually finished. The book is kinda slow in the begining but once it get started, it expands your imagination, the way he descibes things is like no other writing. If u say it was boring its because u did not keep reading.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 31, 2011

    good, but not as good as...

    Some of Ray Bradbury's finest writing appears in Somethin Wicked This Way Comes. Atmospheric...and the use of language and imagery.
    A book to return to time and time again...particularly in October.

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 3, 2011

    Do NOT buy this VERSION!!

    Dandelion Wine is one of my favorite books and I read it every summer. I bought this one for my husband to listen to traveling to work. This is a dramatization; an old radio show type format; it is not "unabridged" (only 90 minutes) as stated in the summary, nor is it the original text/book. Very disappointing; the write up is obviously not correct. I have just purchased another one from here - big difference 7 CD's, 8 hours. This makes more sense!! Again, LOVE the story, but this is an entirely different format than stated.

    1 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 17, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Timeless Classic About Life and Death

    Mr. Bradbury must ponder a lot about life and death. In this novel, he covers every facet of the topic through metaphoric characters and objects. The meaning of "dandelion wine" itself parallels Jim Croce's "Time in a Bottle" - the ability save a moment so that we might relive it again. Memorable moments in the book include the sadness of retiring the trolley, and the salesman who tries to sell grass that never needs to be cut. It's the smell of cut grass that signifies the "official" start of Summer. A very entertaining, though philosophical, book that will make you see the World a little differently after you've finished it.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 17, 2007

    A True Classic

    This is one of my all time favorite books. It truly captures what it is to be 12 in the summertime..The description of Douglas when he buys his tennis shoes is wonderful. The storyline about the 'Lonely One' is reminiscent of all the urban legends of my youth.. This book is a real classic, but perhaps you must be far removed from youth to appreciate it!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 5, 2004

    It glows.

    Dandelion Wine is a wonderful and beautiful book that should be cherished by both young and old. In reading some of the less enthusiastic reviews, I've noticed that the authors are all somewhat younger. Perhaps they weren't so thrilled with the novel because, being young themselves, its truths seem so obvious, or so abstract- simply because they're living the author's words. I'm young myself, but I can't imagine NOT being able to relate to the revelations contained within. Read it and love it.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 24, 2000

    Love this book

    Such a great book. My mom read it when she was my age and she loved it, so do I! It's a really discriptive and beautifully written book. I recommend it to anyone, and great to read in those long summer months.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 8, 2000

    Loved it

    This book was so good. I'm glad my Honors English Teacher made us read it. It makes you feel like a kid again.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 29, 2000

    Figurative language at its best!

    Bradburys use of figurative language and imagery makes this book a stylistical masterpiece.

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