A Year Down Yonder
A Year Down Yonder

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Annotation: During the recession of 1937, fifteen-year-old Mary Alice is sent to live with her feisty, larger-than-life grandmother in rural Illinois and comes to a better understanding of this fearsome woman.
Catalog Number: #336685
Format: Perma-Bound Edition
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Special Formats: Chapter Book Chapter Book
Common Core/STEAM: Common Core Common Core
Teaching Materials Receive a FREE Teacher's Guide for this title with a purchase of 20 or more copies of this book. You do not need to add a copy of the Teacher's Guide to your list, it will be automatically included with your order after the minimum number of copies is ordered.
Publisher: Penguin
Copyright Date: 2000
Edition Date: 2002
Pages: 130 pages
Availability: Available
ISBN: Publisher: 0-14-230070-5 Perma-Bound: 0-8479-7576-2
ISBN 13: Publisher: 978-0-14-230070-1 Perma-Bound: 978-0-8479-7576-1
Dewey: Fic
LCCN: 99034159
Dimensions: 20 cm.
Language: English
Reviews:
Horn Book
This satisfying sequel to A Long Way from Chicago is narrated by fifteen-year-old Mary Alice, who is living with her formidable grandma Dowdel during the 1937 recession. While these stories don't have the cumulative power of the first book, Peck again presents memorable characters, and his subdued humor is much in evidence. Those looking to be entertained by Grandma Dowdel will enjoy this visit.
Kirkus Reviews
Set in 1937 during the so-called "Roosevelt recession," tight times compel Mary Alice, a Chicago girl, to move in with her grandmother, who lives in a tiny Illinois town so behind the times that it doesn't "even have a picture show." This winning sequel takes place several years after A Long Way From Chicago (1998) leaves off, once again introducing the reader to Mary Alice, now 15, and her Grandma Dowdel, an indomitable, idiosyncratic woman who despite her hard-as-nails exterior is able to see her granddaughter with "eyes in the back of her heart." Peck's slice-of-life novel doesn't have much in the way of a sustained plot; it could almost be a series of short stories strung together, but the narrative never flags, and the book, populated with distinctive, soulful characters who run the gamut from crazy to conventional, holds the reader's interest throughout. And the vignettes, some involving a persnickety Grandma acting nasty while accomplishing a kindness, others in which she deflates an overblown ego or deals with a petty rivalry, are original and wildly funny. The arena may be a small hick town, but the battle for domination over that tiny turf is fierce, and Grandma Dowdel is a canny player for whom losing isn't an option. The first-person narration is infused with rich, colorful language—"She was skinnier than a toothpick with termites"—and Mary Alice's shrewd, prickly observations: "Anybody who thinks small towns are friendlier than big cities lives in a big city." Year-round fun. (Fiction. 11-13)
School Library Journal
Gr 5-8-Peck charms readers once again with this entertaining sequel to A Long Way from Chicago (Dial, 1998). This time, 15-year-old Mary Alice visits Grandma Dowdel alone for a one-year stay, while her parents struggle through the recession of 1937 looking for jobs and better housing. With her older brother, Joey, working out west in a government program, Mary Alice takes a turn at recounting memorable and pivotal moments of her year with Grandma. Beneath the woman's fierce independence and nonconformity, Mary Alice discovers compassion, humor, and intuition. She watches her grandmother exact the perfect revenge on a classmate who bullies her on the first day of school, and she witnesses her "shameless" tactics to solicit donations from Veteran's Day "burgoo" eaters whose contributions are given to Mrs. Abernathy's blind, paralyzed, war-veteran son. From her energetic, eccentric, but devoted Grandma, she learns not only how to cook but also how to deal honestly and fairly with people. At story's end, Mary Alice returns several years later to wed the soldier, Royce McNabb, who was her classmate during the year spent with Grandma. Again, Peck has created a delightful, insightful tale that resounds with a storyteller's wit, humor, and vivid description. Mary Alice's memories capture the atmosphere, attitudes, and lifestyle of the times while shedding light on human strengths and weak- nesses.-Gerry Larson, Durham School of the Arts, NC Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
Starred Review for Publishers Weekly

In this Newbery Honor book, Chicago-bred Mary Alice has been sentenced to a year-long stay in rural Illinois with her irrepressible, rough and gruff grandmother. Soon, however, she becomes Grandma's partner in crime, helping to carry out madcap schemes to benefit friends and avenge enemies. In a starred review, PW called this sequel to A Long Way to Chicago "hilarious and poignant." Ages 10-14. (Dec.)

Starred Review ALA Booklist
*Starred Review* With the same combination of wit, gentleness, and outrageous farce as Peck's Newbery Honor book, Long Way from Chicago (1998), this sequel tells the story of Joey's younger sister, Mary Alice, 15, who spends the year of 1937 back with Grandma Dowdel in a small town in Illinois. It's still the Depression; Dad has lost his job, and Mary Alice has been sent from Chicago to live with Grandma and enroll in the hick-town's 25-student high school. As in the first book, much of the fun comes from the larger-than-life characters, whether it's the snobbish DAR ladies or the visiting WPA artist, who paints a nude picture of the postmistress (nude, not naked; he studied in Paris). The wry one-liners and tall tales are usually Grandma's (When I was a girl, we had to walk in our sleep to keep from freezing to death), or Mary Alice's commentary as she looks back (Everybody in this town knew everything about you. They knew things that hadn't even happened yet). That adult perspective is occasionally intrusive and Mary Alice sometimes seems younger than 15, though her awkward romance with a classmate is timeless. The heart of the book is Grandma--huge and overbearing, totally outside polite society. Just as powerful is what's hidden: Mary Alice discovers kindness and grace as well as snakes in the attic. Most moving is Mary Alice's own growth. During a tornado she leaves her shelter to make sure that Grandma is safe at home. In fact, as Mary Alice looks back, it's clear that Grandma has remained her role model, never more generous than when she helped her granddaughter leave.
Word Count: 29,815
Reading Level: 4.5
Interest Level: 5-9
Accelerated Reader: reading level: 4.5 / points: 4.0 / quiz: 44671 / grade: Middle Grades
Reading Counts!: reading level:4.9 / points:9.0 / quiz:Q23032
Lexile: 670L
Guided Reading Level: V
Fountas & Pinnell: V
Prologue

It was a September morning, hazy with late summer, and now with all the years between. Mother was seeing me off at Dearborn Station in Chicago. We'd come in a taxicab because of my trunk. But Mother would ride back home on the El. There wasn't much more than a nickel in her purse, and only a sandwich for the train in mine. My ticket had pretty well cleaned us out.

My trunk, a small one, held every stitch of clothes I had and two or three things of Mother's that fit me. "Try not to grow too fast," she murmured. "But anyway, skirts are shorter this year."

Then we couldn't look at each other. I was fifteen, and I'd been growing like a weed. My shoes from Easter gripped my feet. 

A billboard across from the station read:

WASN'T THE DEPRESSION AWFUL?

This was to make us think the hard times were past. But now in 1937 a recession had brought us low again. People were beginning to call it the Roosevelt recession.

Dad had lost his job, so we'd had to give up the apartment. He and Mother were moving into a "light housekeeping" room. They could get it for seven dollars a week, with kitchen privileges, but it was only big enough for the two of them.

My brother Joey--Joe--had been taken on by the Civilian Conservation Corps to plant trees out west. That left me, Mary Alice. I wished I was two years older and a boy. I wished I was Joey.

But I wasn't, so I had to go down to live with Grandma Dowdel, till we could get on our feet as a family again. It meant I'd have to leave my school. I'd have to enroll in the hick-town school where Grandma lived. Me, a city girl, in a town that didn't even have a picture show.

It meant I'd be living with Grandma. No telephone, of course. And the attic was spooky and stuffy, and you had to go outdoors to the privy. Nothing modern. Everything as old as Grandma. Some of it older.

Now they were calling the train, and my eyes got blurry. Always before, Joey and I had gone to Grandma's for a week in the summer. Now it was just me. And at the other end of the trip--Grandma.

Mother gave me a quick squeeze before she let me go. And I could swear I heard her murmur, "Better you than me." 

She meant Grandma.

Excerpted from A Year down Yonder by Richard Peck
All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

A Newbery Medal Winner

Richard Peck's Newbery Medal-winning sequel to A Long Way from Chicago


Mary Alice's childhood summers in Grandma Dowdel's sleepy Illinois town were packed with enough drama to fill the double bill of any picture show. But now she is fifteen, and faces a whole long year with Grandma, a woman well known for shaking up her neighbors-and everyone else! All Mary Alice can know for certain is this: when trying to predict how life with Grandma might turn out . . . better not. This wry, delightful sequel to the Newbery Honor Book A Long Way from Chicago has already taken its place among the classics of children's literature.

"Hilarious and poignant." —Publishers Weekly, starred review

A Newbery Medal Winner
A New York Times Bestseller
An ALA Notable Book
An ALA Best Book for Young Adults
A Booklist Best Book of the Year
A School Library Journal Best Book of the Year 


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