The Book Reviews – Website

July 7, 2008

A Year Down Yonder

Filed under: *AWESOME BOOKS!!!,A — thebookreviews @ 3:00 pm
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A Year Down Yonder

Author: Richard Peck

Page Length: 130

Reading Level: 6

Genre: Historical Fiction

PLOT SUMMARY: The story of Grandma Dowdel continues (from A Long Way from Chicago) when Mary Alice goes to live with Grandma for a year. It’s the Great Depression. Times are tough and Mary Alice’s parents can not afford to support her in Chicago. Joey has gone off to work and Mary Alice must face Grandma Dowdel alone for the first time. A country school with all the grades combined and a whole year with Grandma may just do Mary Alice in.

On the other hand, maybe there is more of Grandma in Mary Alice than she realized. Mary Alice begins to adjust to country life, make new friends, and meet an interesting young man. All the while she begins to realize that Chicago might not have been so great after all.

REVIEW: I loved this book and how it brought small town life in the 1930s to life. Grandma Dowdel is a woman to be admired and studied for her “take life by the horns approach.” I loved the adventures and the cunning Grandma displays when she outwits and out performs everyone around her. Perhaps Grandma Dowdel’s greatest lesson is to be true to yourself. This book is humorous and heart-warming.

Teaching this novel might be a great starting point for having students re-connect with their elders (perhaps write a collection of stories they’ve heard through the generations). It would go great as a read during the study of this time period in history class too. Students could write about how an experience with their grandparent influenced or changed them. Peck did a masterful job of enveloping the reader in small town life and in the realities of the depression era. Great book! Satisfying ending!

AREAS FOR TEACHING: character traits, context clues, plot, setting, word choice, mood and tone, causes and effect (sending Mary Alice to live with Grandma), connotative and denotative, conclusions, generalizations, and predictions

TOUCHY AREAS-PAGES: shooting – Grandma doesn’t mind wielding her shotgun when she has to, bullying, class systems

RELATED BOOKS: A Long Way from Chicago, Strays Like Us, Fair Weather, The River Between Us, The Teacher’s Funeral, Stories My Grandmother Would Love: Featuring Eleven “Miss Lillie” Stories About Life on the Farm in the 1930s

MOVIES: Kitt Kitteredge, Cinderella Man, All the Kings Men, Wild Hearts Can’t Be Broken


REVIEWED BY: Dayna Taylor

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