Dandelion Wine, Ray Bradbury's tale of Summer 1928 in small Green Town, Illinois, is a wonder. The words fly about the pages as sparkly as the fireflies that light up the summer nights.
The story is full of an astonishing collection of characters. Some we meet only once; some come off their front porch swings to visit again and again.
The main character, twelve-year-old Doug Spaulding, discovers this summer that he is alive. He also discovers that nothing lasts forever - not friendship, nor machines, nor loved ones, and especially not summer.
Doug attempts to capture the events and lessons of the summer on paper, writing on his nickel tablet with a yellow Ticonderoga pencil. One section is titled Rites and Ceremonies, a record of all the things that happen over and over again. The other section is titled Discoveries and Revelations, a record of ideas that occur to him in response to that summer's happenings.
The bottles of this year's crop of dandelion wine in his grandfather's cellar store in liquid form the good things of summer: the great day Doug got his new sneakers, the day he and his younger brother Tom (who is quite the philosopher) rescued the Tarot Witch, times spent with Colonel Freeleigh listening to his memorable stories.
But the bottles also contain the sorrowful day his best friend moved away and the day the sisters Miss Fern and Miss Roberts put away the Green Machine in the garage forever. And the day the town's trolley stopped running on its silver tracks. And the night the Lonely One killed yet another young woman.
I could go on pulling out scenes and characters and events, but you really need to experience the book for yourself. And it is an experience. It is quite a dazzling tale told with affection and humor and heartbreak...and a perfect summer read.