September 2, 2015

Summer of Surprise by Helen Reynolds (1960)

Not finish art school! Such a thing couldn't happen to her, Penny Warburton, could it? She had planned to spend this summer vacation in her usual leisurely fashion--riding her horse Goldie, swimming, and helping out in the family orchard. But helping out meant more than just picking fruit this year, for the crop was a failure. Penny has to find some way, somehow to make the money to cover her expenses for that senior year at art school.

Unexpectedly, Lyn, her neighbor, asks Penny to teach her pottery-making. Could an art studio be the answer to the problem of raising money? Lyn's friend, Susan, also wants to learn, so perhaps there are even others. Excited and a little frightened about the undertaking, Penny, with her family's approval, converts the drawing room into a studio for rug-weaving and pottery-making. But how much should she charge for instruction? Can she buy equipment reasonably? Will she be able to sell the ceramics? And how will she get more students?

In spite of her doubts, Penny's class grows as one neighbor tells another about it, and Penny is encouraged to advertise. She never expects her ad to produce a boarding student, but Tony Lestrange writes that he is willing to camp on the veranda, if he can become an expert at pottery-making and design. And, without even waiting for a reply from Penny, Tony barges in in his noisy sports car. Seeing Tony's Great Dane and squeaky violin, Penny Wishes he could camp -- elsewhere. However, Tony is there to stay.

Teaching is fun and creative, but it demands diplomatic skill as well. Conflicts and jealousies, common to every classroom, arise and Penny has to cope with varied personalities and talents; Susan, who is all thumbs; and Tony, brash, outspoken and, it appears, in love with Penny.

Conscientious Penny is determined to be successful. Exploring the possibilities of selling ceramics to Esselmont's Gift Shop, she meets handsome, young Garth Esselmont. Now, more than ever, Penny wants to return to art school in downtown Vancouver, for Garth is attending the university there.

As her arts and crafts conclude, Penny's goal seems more attainable. In reaching her goal, Penny reveals the understanding, warmth,  and maturity that are some of the fruits of a wonderful summer--her summer of surprise. (from in the inside flap)

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