Monday, September 16, 2013

A Year Down Yonder, by Richard Peck

This book tells the story of a 15-year old girl named Mary Alice from Chicago who goes to live with her Grandma Dowdel, in "hick-town," during the 1937 recession. Mary Alice was not happy about having to spend a year down South, as "the town did not even have a picture show." However, Mary Alice knew that her Grandma was not afraid of anyone and was more than willing to "lay down the law" on occasion.

While it was hard to tell sometimes, Grandma really had a big heart for the people in her town. Yet, most of the things she did seemed to be in contradiction. For example, one evening Grandma stole Old Man Nyquist’s tractor and drove it into a pecan tree so the pecans fell ankle-deep. To justify this, Grandma reminded Mary Alice that Old Man Nyquist said she could have any pecans that fell. She reasoned that he was too deaf to hear her start the tractor and would just think it rolled out of the barn by itself. To show her generosity, she used those pecans to make pies for the upcoming Halloween Party that fed the town during this tough time. While her actions may not always seem admirable, Grandma had a plan for justice and she completed it with lots of humor.

Adults would enjoy this book as much as young adults. With one adventure after another, it is quite humorous and very witty. A wonderful Newbery Award winner.

Reviewed by Fran, First Regional Library

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