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Friday, April 2, 2010

A Year Down Yonder by Richard Peck

As my Grandma would say, “This story is a hoot!”

Speaking of Grandma’s, this one is a character. She lives in a small town in Illinois. Her granddaughter from Chicago comes to visit her because it's the tail-end of the Great Depression.

Grandma doesn’t let her granddaughter rest. She’s enrolled in school the first day. Grandma doesn’t rest herself. By the end of the first school day, Grandma is taking care of the bully who accompanies Mary Alice home by outwitting her in a most amusing manner involving bare feet and a long homeward trek. The boys who try to destroy Grandma’s outhouse also meet their match involving their bald heads and Grandma’s privy remaining pristine (so to speak).

Mary Alice also turns out to have some spunky tricks up her sleeve much like her eldest relative. It makes you sorry when she finally heads for home at the end of the year.

It does pack a one-two punch in terms of cautions for parents. First… remember the Herdmans in The Best Christmas Pageant Ever? In this story, the characters that are "Herdman-like" end up slipping an illegitimate baby from a teenage mother into the manger during the Nativity. It’s more serious misbehavior than, say, the Herdman’s trying to catch one another in the garage door.

Also, Grandma takes on a boarder who is also an artist. Whilst he is painting a local woman in the buff, the resident snake from the attic drops onto her, and she comes shrieking downstairs, out the front door, and down the road. Grandma shoots the gun in order to alert the townsfolk to come to their windows and watch her as she streaks naked back home.

The descriptions aren’t lurid, just a bit on the mature side. Now you know.

This is a sequel to A Long Way from Chicago which my oldest tween thoroughly enjoyed.

SAFETY RATING: 2 Vatican Flags


Anonymous,  April 17, 2010 at 10:08 PM  


I laughed my way through this book. Perhaps my southern Illinois upbringing made the characters come alive for me (the setting is in IL). I grew up with folks just like them.

BTW, my 14 year old enjoyed it also.

Tween Lit Crit April 18, 2010 at 3:42 PM  

Some books I have to slog through; not this one. I think I recognized your mom-in-law. Just kidding! ;)

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