Wisconsin, 1961. Evelyn "Button" Peters is nine the summer Winnalee and her fiery-spirited older sister, Freeda, blow into her small town-and from the moment she sees them, Button knows this will be a summer unlike any other. Much to her mother's dismay, Button is fascinated by the Malone sisters, especially Winnalee, a feisty scrap of a thing who carries around a shiny silver urn containing her mother's ashes and a tome she calls "The Book of Bright Ideas." It is here, Winnalee tells Button, that she records everything she learns: her answers to the mysteries of life. But sometimes those mysteries conceal a truth better left buried. And when a devastating secret is suddenly revealed, dividing loyalties and uprooting lives, no one-from Winnalee and her sister to Button and her family-will ever be the same. From the Trade Paperback edition.
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May 01, 2006
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Excerpt from The Book of Bright Ideas by Sandra Kring
I should have known that summer of 1961 was gonna be the biggest summer of our lives. I should have known it the minute I saw Freeda Malone step out of that pickup, her hair lit up in the sun like hot flames. I should have known it, because Uncle Rudy told me what happens when a wildfire comes along.
We were standing in his yard, Uncle Rudy and I, at the foot of a red pine that seemed to stretch to heaven, when a squirrel began knocking pinecones to the ground with soft thuds. Uncle Rudy bent over with a grunt and picked one of the green cones up, rolling it a bit in his callused palm before handing it to me. It was cool in my hands. Sap dripped down the side like tears.
' Here ' s somethin ' I bet you don ' t know, Button, ' he said, using the nickname he himself gave me. ' That cone there, it ain ' t like the cones of most other trees. Most cones, all they need is time, or a squirrel to crack ' em open so they can drop their seeds and start a new tree. But that cone there, it ain ' t gonna open up and drop its seeds unless a wildfire comes through here. '
' A wildfire '
' That ' s right, ' Uncle Rudy said, scraping the scalp under his cap with his dirty fingernail. ' See them little scales there, how they ' re closed up tight like window shutters Under- neath ' em are the seeds ' flat little things, flimsy as a baby ' s fingernails ' with a point at one end. If a fire comes along, the heat is gonna cause those scales to peel back and drop their seeds, while the ground is still scorching hot. Then that tiny seed is gonna burrow in and take root. '
I was nine years old the summer Freeda and Winnalee Malone rushed across our lives like red-hot flames, peeling back the shutters that sat over our hearts and our minds, setting free our sweetest dreams and our worst nightmares. Too young to know at the onset that anything out of the ordinary was about to happen.