Dandelion Wine

Dandelion Wine

by Ray Bradbury
Dandelion Wine

Dandelion Wine

by Ray Bradbury


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Ray Bradbury's moving recollection of a vanished golden era remains one of his most enchanting novels. Dandelion Wine stands out in the Bradbury literary canon as the author's most deeply personal work, a semi-autobiographical recollection of a magical small-town summer in 1928.

Twelve-year-old Douglas Spaulding knows Green Town, Illinois, is as vast and deep as the whole wide world that lies beyond the city limits. It is a pair of brand-new tennis shoes, the first harvest of dandelions for Grandfather's renowned intoxicant, the distant clang of the trolley's bell on a hazy afternoon. It is yesteryear and tomorrow blended into an unforgettable always. But as young Douglas is about to discover, summer can be more than the repetition of established rituals whose mystical power holds time at bay. It can be a best friend moving away, a human time machine who can transport you back to the Civil War, or a sideshow automaton able to glimpse the bittersweet future.

Come and savor Ray Bradbury's priceless distillation of all that is eternal about boyhood and summer.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780380977260
Publisher: HarperCollins
Publication date: 02/01/1999
Edition description: REPRINT
Pages: 288
Sales rank: 104,267
Product dimensions: 5.12(w) x 7.00(h) x 0.97(d)
Age Range: 14 - 18 Years

About the Author

About The Author
In a career spanning more than seventy years, Ray Bradbury 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, 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. An Emmy Award winner for his teleplay The Halloween Tree and an Academy Award nominee, 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.


Los Angeles, California

Date of Birth:

August 22, 1920

Place of Birth:

Waukegan, Illinois


Attended schools in Waukegan, Illinois, and Los Angeles, California

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.

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

"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." —-Library Journal Audio Review

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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