Created by Laura Abbott

A Year Down Yonder by Richard Peck

Peck, Richard. A Year Down Yonder. Penguin Group, Inc., 2002. 144 pages. pap. $6.99 ISBN 978-0-14-230070-1.

Annotation: A fifteen year old girl named Mary Alice is sent to live with her feisty Grandma Dowdel in rural Illinois during the Depression. Both women learn and grow during a hilarious, surprising, and heartwarming year.

Summary: This is a sequel to A Long Way From Chicago, a Newbery Honor book. It is set during the recession of 1937 in rural Illinois. A fifteen year old girl named Mary Alice is sent to live with her rough and feisty Grandma Dowdel in a sleepy farm town until her parents can afford to bring her back to Chicago. During her stay, Mary Alice gets to know the townsfolk and discovers a fiercely independent and eccentric yet surprisingly compassionate and devoted grandma. She learns how to cook, be a partner in crime, help friends, take revenge on enemies, fall in love, and be independent. The unspoken fondness between the two women grows with each chapter.

Evaluation: This is a superbly crafted glimpse into the life of an eccentric, but kind grandma and her intelligent and perceptive granddaughter. With wit and charm, Richard Peck reveals the growth and drama in an adolescent life’s while staying true to the attitudes and lifestyle of the times. It is an amusing, down-home adventure involving memorably strong characters. Recommended for ages 8 to 14.

Genre / Subject: Juvenile Fiction, Historical, Family, Friendship, Grandmother, Country Life

Awards: 2001 Newbery Award Winner, 2001 ALA Best Books for Young Adults, 2001 ALA Notable Children’s Book,