Tuesday, February 02, 2010



A Year Down Yonder, Richard Peck, Penguin Putnam, 2000, 130 pp

Richard Peck won the Newbery Award in 2001 for this continuation of the tales of Grandma Dowdel and her small town Illinois life which began in A Long Way From Chicago. I had intended to post this review on Sunday (my day for children's books) but never got to it. So today I catch up.

In this volume, it is a new decade and the Great Depression is over but the country is still suffering from a recession and blaming it on Roosevelt. (I wonder what we will be blaming Obama for in the years ahead.) A Year Down Yonder is told through the eyes of Mary Alice, the younger sister of Joey. Their dad has lost his job, the family has lost their Chicago apartment and had to move to a one-room place. So Joey joined the CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps) and went to plant trees out west while Mary Alice was sent to Grandma Dowdel.

At 15, Mary Alice is not happy about leaving her Chicago friends and going to live with a bunch of hicks. It turns out to be a formative year for her as she makes her way through classroom politics at school and picks up life lessons from Grandma Dowdel. The two of them bond for good and Mary Alice will forever cook like her grandma. 

I enjoyed these stories as much as I did those in the earlier book. Clearly high school is a time of life more than a location.

(A ¥ear Down Yonder is available on the Newbery shelf at Once Upon A Time Bookstore.) 


  1. Anonymous1:33 PM

    Hi Judy: I loved this book as much as the others. Mrs. Dowdel is such a great character and I love this writer, I laughed and cried. That's the sign of a good book.

  2. Lisa, I think we are a fan club of two when it comes to Richard Peck, not to mention Mrs Dowdel!