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by Alison Hogan


   Summer has always been the happiest time of year for Chappaqua's Suzanne Brown.

   She grew up in Yonkers with two older brothers who taught her how to look for box turtles, play stickball, and build forts. During the summers, the family would head to the Jersey Shore, where there was more of the same. "We did everything outdoors," Brown recalls. "My parents would kick us out of the house. We'd run under the sprinkler all day long and make up backyard games. We were never bored."

Photo: from the book, "Summer", by Shutterstock

   Three years ago, on vacation with her husband on a beach in South Carolina, Brown began thinking about why she loves summer so much: "The smell of suntan lotion, the ocean air, the boardwalk, the kids making sandcastles." Brown, a visual designer, came up with an idea for a book "about all the things people look forward to in the summertime."

    The result is Summer: A User's Guide (Artisan, $19.95) — a compendium of ideas, a celebration of the season, and a handbook on how to do everything from building a campfire to getting up on water skis, from setting up a backyard movie night to playing horseshoes, from tie-dyeing to catching crabs.

   All this fun information is complemented by recipes (everything from a traditional New England clambake, to scented linen water and a summer salt glow skin scrub) and beautiful photographs. Much of the photography had to be farmed out to California artists "because it was winter in New York while I was writing Summer," the author explains.

   Like the currently much-talked-about The Dangerous Book for Boys, Suzanne Brown's Summer has a wholesomeness about it that seems sorely needed in this age of instant messaging, virtual pets and freaky chat rooms. This is a book to keep on your coffee table all year round.

Suzanne Brown's Top Summer Picks in Westchester:

Rye Playland — "My favorite place in the world!"

Whippoorwill Park, Route 117, New Castle — 167 acres for walking

Saw Mill River Audubon's butterfly and hummingbird garden, Chappaqua

The Perseid Meteor Shower, visible in the early morning hours, peak viewing August 11-13. See page 101 of Summer for more!

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