The subtitle to A Long Way from Chicago is A novel in stories and that is exactly what you find in the book. Joey and Mary Alice visit small town America each summer for seven years. Each year is covered in a short chapter and details the visit of the two young people. Life in the small town south of Chicago is hysterically navigated by Grandma with the children half delighted and half terrified by what might happen next. These chapters could be read as individual stories. We cataloged this book for Grades 3-7.
Sandy gave a great review of the 2001 Newbery winner A Year Down Yonder. This hilarious book follows Mary Alice as she moves in with Grandma Dowdel for a year. Since Mary Alice is 15, the stories focus on topics appropriate and entertaining to older children. In fact, this book was also awarded an ALA Best Books for Young Adults award.
Both books took me back to my childhood. My sister and I always spent the summers in Tennessee, moving from one grandmother to another. Our favorite place was a very small town in West Tennessee with a population of only 7,000. I knew people Peck wrote about quite intimately. Some of them might have been related. My uncle was a Sheriff's investigator and he knew every story there was to tell, often before they even happened. These summers contain some of my most cherished memories and I will read these books again in a few years just to stir these memories.
While looking at some information about Richard Peck, I ran across this poem written by Richard Peck at the Penguin Group homesite for the author:
Twenty Minutes a Day
Read to your children
Twenty minutes a day;
You have the time,
And so do they.
Read while the laundry is in the machine;
Read while the dinner cooks;
Tuck a child in the crook of your arm
And reach for the library books.
Hide the remote,
Let the computer games cool,
For one day your children will be off to school;
Remedial? Gifted? You have the choice;
Let them hear their first tales
In the sound of your voice.
Read in the morning;
Read over noon;
Read by the light ofGoodnight Moon.
Turn the pages together,
Sitting close as you'll fit,
Till a small voice beside you
says,"Hey, don't quit."
Also, you might notice that my posted by name has changed to Library Cat. I am having to do a project for our regional library consortia which requires a blog and for the life of me I could not figure out how to change the posted by name for just one of my blogs - in fact I don't think it is possible. So for now, this will be Library Cat by Flusianna otherwise known as Flusi!