Sunday, February 07, 2010

A SEASON OF GIFTS

 

A Season of Gifts, Richard Peck, Dial Books for Young Readers, 2009, 164 pp

This is the third and least successful of Peck's books about Grandma Dowdel and her small town antics. The narrartor this time is Bob, the son of a preacher's family who has moved into the house next door to Mrs Dowdel. Time has moved along to 1958.

Aside from Grandma Dowdel, Bob's younger sister Ruth Ann is the most endearing character as she becomes Grandma's closest companion. Together they careen about the town, raising a ruckus and helping those in need.

Grandma Dowdel's antics reach almost slapstick proportions in this volume so that while she still comes across as big-hearted in her gruff way, the whole book takes on the tone of a tall tale compared to the more intimate character of the two earlier books. (A Long Way From Chicago  and A Year Down Yonder.)

I read this for the reading group at Once Upon A Time, where we usually read a children's book in December. The main objection amongst the readers was that kids today would be unlikely to get many of the cultural references from 1950s small town America. It was so pre-WalMart.

(All three of Richard Peck's books are available on the shelf in the section for readers aged 8-12 at Once Upon A Time Bookstore.) 

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