Umbrella Summer

Umbrella Summer

4.4 235
by Lisa Graff

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Annie Richards knows there are a million things to look out for—bicycle accidents, food poisoning, chicken pox, smallpox, typhoid fever, runaway zoo animals, and poison oak. That's why being careful is so important, even if it does mean giving up some of her favorite things, like bike races with her best friend, Rebecca, and hot dogs on the Fourth of July.

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Annie Richards knows there are a million things to look out for—bicycle accidents, food poisoning, chicken pox, smallpox, typhoid fever, runaway zoo animals, and poison oak. That's why being careful is so important, even if it does mean giving up some of her favorite things, like bike races with her best friend, Rebecca, and hot dogs on the Fourth of July. Everyone keeps telling Annie not to worry so much, that she's just fine. But they thought her brother, Jared, was just fine too, and Jared died.

It takes a new neighbor, who looks as plain as a box of toothpicks but has some surprising secrets of her own, to make Annie realize that her plans for being careful aren't working out as well as she had hoped. And with a lot of help from those around her—and a book about a pig, too—Annie just may find a way to close her umbrella of sadness and step back into the sunshine.

With winsome humor and a dash of small-town charm, Lisa Graff's third novel is a touching look at rising above grief and the healing power of community.

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Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Naomi Milliner
Ten-year-old Annie Richards has led a happy, carefree life…until the sudden death of her older brother, Jared. Five months later, as Jared's 12th birthday approaches, the Richards' family is coping the best they can: Annie's dad is physically present but emotionally absent; her mom has locked Jared's bedroom; and Annie has turned into a hypochondriac. Convinced the only way to be safe is "to know exactly what could get me and all the ways to stop it," Annie steals a neighbor's encyclopedic tome (The Everyday Guide to Preventing Illness), and clings to it like a life preserver. Annie's over-the-top anxieties worry her mom and alienate her friends; then Mrs. Finch comes along. A new 70-something neighbor and recent widow, Mrs. Finch both befriends, and identifies with, Annie and her grief, explaining that "it's easier to be worried than to be sad." Together, loveable Annie and the lovely Mrs. Finch help each other grieve and heal. As she did with The Thing About Georgie, Graf has crafted a funny, sad and ultimately uplifting book with characters the reader will not only enjoy meeting, but will remember long after the last page. Highly recommended. Reviewer: Naomi Milliner
School Library Journal

Gr 4-6

After her brother's unexpected death from a rare heart ailment, adventurous Annie Richards changes into an overly cautious child who diligently tries to prevent any illness or accident happening to her. Each cut or bump is bandaged. Instead of racing her friend Rachel on her bike, the 10-year-old invents turtle racing to see who can ride the slowest. Games she deems too dangerous are avoided. Annie's neighborhood is filled with friends and neighbors who care, but too often she sees the "dead brother" look on their faces. Only when Mrs. Finch moves into the long-vacant "haunted" house in the neighborhood, and Annie attempts to sell her outdated Junior Sunbird cookies, do things begin to change. Friendship, shared moments, and some careful listening help Annie close her umbrella of sadness. As in The Life and Crimes of Bernetta Wallflower (2008) and The Thing About Georgie (2007, both HarperCollins), Graff has created a lively, quirky individual who tells her story with frankness and humor. Annie's three friends come across as real kids who treat Annie's eccentricities with a mixture of understanding and occasional anger. A more complex read than Andrea Beaty's Cicada Summer (Abrams, 2008), Annie's story deals with death with sensitivity, love, and understanding.-Kathryn Kosiorek, formerly at Cuyahoga County Public Library, Brooklyn, OH

Kirkus Reviews
Four months ago Annie Richards's 11-year-old brother Jared died suddenly from an undiagnosed heart condition. Since then, she and her parents have been nearly paralyzed with a grief that none of them can acknowledge. Her mother frantically cleans but won't speak of Jared, her father is sweetly distant and ten-year-old Annie tries desperately to protect herself from every conceivable form of disease or accident. The loving adults who surround Annie are aware of her fears but bumble in their attempts to comfort her, until a new neighbor, grieving over her husband's recent death, finds just the right words and caring interventions to ease Annie, and ultimately others around her, into taking down the metaphorical umbrellas they raised to shield themselves from pain. Though at first glance rather long for those new to chapter books, the generous, nicely spaced print makes for a surprisingly fast read. A welcome and sensitive addition to collections dealing with grief, this is also an appealing and moving choice for readers seeking a dose of feel-good reality fiction. (Fiction. 8 & up)
Horn Book Magazine
“With the same deftness she demonstrated in THE THING ABOUT GEORGIE, Graff immediately engages the reader.”
—Kirby Larson
“Umbrella Summer is a radiant book.”
Kirby Larson
"Umbrella Summer is a radiant book."

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Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
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Sales rank:
820L (what's this?)
File size:
325 KB
Age Range:
8 - 12 Years

Read an Excerpt

Umbrella Summer

Chapter One

If you started to squeeze your brakes right in the middle of heading down Maple Hill, just as you were passing old Mr. Normore's mailbox, you could coast into the bike rack in front of Lippy's Market without making a single tire squeak. That was the fastest way to go, and the most fun too, with the wind whistling past your ears and your stomach getting fluttery and floaty, till you thought maybe you were riding quicker than a rocket.

I didn't do that anymore, though. Now I hopped off my bike at the top of the hill and walked it. It took five times as long but it was lots safer.

I got to the store at 7:58—that's what it said on the clock inside. The door was still locked, and Mr. Lippowitz and his son, Tommy, were flattening cardboard boxes in the corner. Mr. L. saw me peeking through the window and held up two fingers, so I sat down on the front step and waited, trying to soak up the whole two minutes by taking off all my biking gear real slow. I slid off my elbow pads—left one first, then the right—and stacked them on the step next to me in a pile. Next came the kneepads, which I tugged off over my sneakers, and last of all I unsnapped my bike helmet. I thought about taking off the ace bandages around my ankles, too, but then I decided it would take too long to put them back on when I was ready to bike home, and there was no way I was biking without them. They were important for protecting against sprains.

I took so long with my bike gear, I swear Mr. L. could've opened the store twice by the time I was done, but the door was still closed. I stood up and leaned back on my heels andthen forward to the tippy-tips of my toes, just for something to do while I was waiting, and I scanned the bulletin board out front to see if there was anything new.

Same as usual, there were papers pinned up all over—advertisements and lost-and-founds, flyers about art lessons and people selling furniture and high school kids looking for babysitting jobs. In the top right corner there was a green one that said YARD SALE SATURDAY—106 KNICKERBOCKER LANE, and I knew that had to be the Harpers next door, because my house was 108. Some of the flyers were brand-new, and some were so old they were brown around the edges from too much sun. My dad once said that if you ever wanted to know what people were up to in Cedar Haven, California, the easiest way was to go down to Lippy's, because then you could learn about everyone all at once.

By the time Mr. L. unlocked the door, it was 8:09, but I didn't tell him that. "Well, if it isn't my best customer!" he said with a grin. "How are you doing today, Annie?"

"Pretty good," I told him. "I checked our house for black widow spiders, and there aren't any."

"Well." His nostrils flared at that. "Good to know."

There was a crash from the back room—not an emergency-sounding shatter like plates breaking, but more like a good long rattle.

"Tommy!" Mr. L. hollered over his shoulder. "What was that?"

Tommy didn't answer.

"Sounded like a whole carton of Good & Plentys to me," I said.

He laughed. "I better go check, huh?"

While Mr. L. checked on Tommy, I wandered around. I knew exactly what I was looking for, but I liked exploring. Lippy's was one of my favorite places to be. Sometimes on Sundays, after Rebecca's family got back from church, we rode our bikes down to get lunch from the warmer. Rebecca got either fried chicken or spiced potato wedges, and I always got beef taquitos. It was four for two dollars, but if Mr. L. was at the register I got a fifth one for free.

I saw right away that Mr. L. had finally stocked up the toy aisle for summer—water balloons and Super Soakers, snorkel masks and plastic sunglasses. He should've gotten that stuff out three weeks ago, because it was already the first day of July and I was sweating worse than a pig in a roller derby. But I guess better late than never, that's what my mom always said. There was a pair of brown-and-pink polka-dotted flip-flops that were just my size, and I wanted them real bad, but there were more important things I needed to spend my money on.

After I finished my wandering, I went to the front, where Mr. L. was reading the newspaper behind the counter.

"Was it Good & Plentys?" I asked him. "Is that what crashed?"

He shook his head. "Junior Mints. You find something worth buying today, Annie?" "Yup." I slapped my purchase on the counter.

Mr. L. looked at the box and then looked back at me. His face was squinty. "Didn't you just buy a box of Band-Aids yesterday?" he asked.

"It was Thursday," I told him, "and I'm out already."

I saw him looking at my arms. I had two Band-Aids on the right one, where Rebecca's hamster had scratched me with its nails, and five on the left one, covering up spots that were either mosquito bites or poison oak, I wasn't sure yet.

He sighed deep. He was looking at me with his eyes big and sad, and a crease between the eyebrows. It was the same look almost everyone had for me now, Miss Kimball at school, my parents' friends, even Rebecca sometimes when she thought I couldn't see her. Everybody on the planet practically had been looking at me the same way since February—sad and worrying, with a bit of pity mixed in at the edges. I guess that was the way people looked at you after your brother died.

I slipped three dollars across the counter toward him. "I get seventeen cents change," I said.

Mr. L. just nodded and rang me up.

Umbrella Summer. Copyright © by Lisa Graff. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

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Kirby Larson
“Umbrella Summer is a radiant book.”

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Umbrella Summer 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 235 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved this book. It is about a a ten year old who's brother died. The girl, Annie, thinks she has all the diseases, when she meets an old lady who helps her overcome all her worries. The old lady also helps Annie close her "umbrella". This is a cute story and I highly reccomend it.
Avery Williams More than 1 year ago
This is an amazing book! Trust me! I never used to like reading and when I bought this book at my school book fair I read the back and loved it! The beginning is kinda confusing but in the end tears almost fell down my face! This book made me want to start reading! Enjoy!!!!:)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I think it has a lot of humor in it. I think teachers should have thier students read this. Annie is sooo catious. Beacause,her brother Jared died. But if you had someone pass away you should read this book. Or if someone you know if one of thier friends or family members died. So you could tell them about it. Please read this book I LOVED it! So try to read this book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a book about a girl named Annie who thinks she has all these diseases after her brother dies in a skating accident. She meets a new neighbor and they instantly click. Will this lady hep get Annie to open her umbrela and see the world, orwill she be stuck under her umbrella for the rest of her life?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
You should definitely get this. It was great and amazingly awesome! I am 10 too and I loved it
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I am only on page 70 and i can't put it down! Everything in here is amazing! Ages: 8-15 Amazing: YES!!! incredible: YES!!!!!!
paigepurvis More than 1 year ago
This is a wonderful book about a girl and how she coped after her brothers death. After making an unlikley friend , the death of a beloved hamster and re - making a best friend Annie and her family and friends learn how to cope with death and remember there loved ones.
GirlwiththeBraids More than 1 year ago
The summer after her brother died from a rare accident, Annie Richards is overprotective and far too careful in everything she does. She wears a helmet when she is walking down the street, uses all of her allowance on Band-Aids, and isn't herself anymore. What if she got a scratch and it became infected? What if she got gangrene? Anything and everything can bring a sickness, deformity, or future medical problem. When an old lady moves into the house across the street, Annie realizes that maybe, metaphorically, she could shut her umbrella just a smidgen. Told with sincerity and clever similes, Umbrella Summer is the best book I've read that shows the aftermath of the death of a loved one in the most truthful way. One of the reasons this book was brought to my attention was the cover. It's vibrant and, I have to say, fits with the book well. The storyline was fast-paced and only told through two weeks. Annie is a spunky, refreshing character and all of them are so realistic. The writing was unmistakable and the author's talent was put to good use. I thoroughly enjoyed all this book has to offer! It's adorable, memorable, and teaches more than one great lesson. Contains: Things that might scare younger readers *different diseases *mention of maybe-amputations
Taylor Lemay More than 1 year ago
One of my friends told me to read this book and i am glad i did. It is a good story. It is ok at the beginning but keep reading it just gets better and you cannot put it down. UMBRELLA SUMMER is an easy and great story.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The plot was more heartwarming than intriguing, but it taught a lesson so any of us have forgotten - it's OK to be cautious, but sometimes you need to let down your umbrella of worry and let the sunshine stream down, even if it means letting the raindrops fall as well.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Umbrella Summer is one of the best books I've ever read.Its about a girl named Annie.Her brother died just a year before of a rare disease.Now Annie thinks she has all these outrageous diseases.Then an old lady helps Annie see she needs to leave her own life and take a few risks.Annie helped guide me through insecurities,leaving me feeling good about myself at the end of the book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love this book and i recomend it to girlss and women all over the world i love this book:)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is soooo amazing. I highly reccommend it to anybody who has lost an importaint person in your life. A well written story. Do you have an umbrella up?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I could not put this book down. It was one of the best books i have ever read.
Laura Glass More than 1 year ago
This book is a amazing book i didnt want to put it down!:D
Alexi White More than 1 year ago
I love this book! It amazes me how one person can change your life. This is a good family book.
Bookfever More than 1 year ago
I thought this book was great! I finished it in three days. It is one of my favorite books ever and I would suggest it to all of my friends! I got it at one of my school book fairs thinking it might be interesting but it turns out I got totally absorbed in it. I think that if your looking for a good book to read this would be the one!
-Morgan More than 1 year ago
Umbrella Summer is a good book over all. I think I was a little old to be reading the book, so I would recommend it to readers anywhere under thirteen. The reading level was fairly simple, and not enough of a challenge for me. The story in itself was great, and I think if I'd read the story a year ago, it would've been my all time favorite! :)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Best book ever
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very sad but worth it try to rent it from the library on your nook it makes your nook even more worth it. Overall his was a amazing book. A great book for kids who are dealing with loss of parents or siblings.:)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Buy buy buy iiittt worth the money
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great for all ages!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is heartwarming to me. The book tells how annie gets over her fears. She and an older neighbor of hers come together and get over their fears together. Good book for a yound reader.
Joan Sanchez More than 1 year ago
This book will make you want to dance in the rain:)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
i dont see how how anyone xould have rated this book a 1 star!!!!! thats impossible well i rate it a 5 star