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A Year Down Yonder (Newbery Medal Book) Hardcover – October 1, 2000

4.5 out of 5 stars 276 customer reviews
Book 2 of 3 in the Living in Chicago Series

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Grandma Dowdel's back! She's just as feisty and terrifying and goodhearted as she was in Richard Peck's A Long Way from Chicago, and every bit as funny. In the first book, a Newbery Honor winner, Grandma's rampages were seen through the eyes of her grandson Joey, who, with his sister, Mary Alice, was sent down from Chicago for a week every summer to visit. But now it's 1937 and Joey has gone off to work for the Civilian Conservation Corps, while 15-year-old Mary Alice has to go stay with Grandma alone--for a whole year, maybe longer. From the very first moment when she arrives at the depot clutching her Philco portable radio and her cat, Bootsie, Mary Alice knows it won't be easy. And it's not. She has to sleep alone in the attic, attend a hick town school where in spite of her worn-out coat she's "the rich girl from Chicago," and be an accomplice in Grandma's outrageous schemes to run the town her own way--and do good while nobody's looking. But being Grandma's sidekick is always interesting, and by the end of the year, Mary Alice has grown to see the formidable love in the heart of her formidable Grandma.

Peck is at his best with these hilarious stories that rest solidly within the American literary tradition of Mark Twain and Bret Harte. Teachers will cherish them as great read-alouds, and older teens will gain historical perspective from this lively picture of the depression years in small-town America. (Ages 12 and older) --Patty Campbell

From Publishers Weekly

In this hilarious and poignant sequel to A Long Way to Chicago, Peck once again shows that country life is anything but boring. Chicago-bred Mary Alice (who has previously weathered annual week-long visits with Grandma Dowdel) has been sentenced to a year-long stay in rural Illinois with her irrepressible, rough and gruff grandmother, while Joey heads west with the Civilian Conservation Corps, and her parents struggle to get back on their feet during the 1937 recession. Each season brings new adventures to 15-year-old Mary Alice as she becomes Grandma's partner in crime, helping to carry out madcap schemes to benefit friends and avenge enemies. Around Halloween, for example, the woman, armed with wire, a railroad spike and a bucket of glue, outsmarts a gang of pranksters bent on upturning her privy. Later on, she proves just as apt at squeezing change out of the pockets of skinflints, putting prim and proper DAR ladies in their place and arranging an unlikely match between a schoolmarm and a WPA artist of nude models. Between antic capers, Peck reveals a marshmallow heart inside Grandma's rock-hard exterior and adroitly exposes the mutual, unspoken affection she shares with her granddaughter. Like Mary Alice, audience members will breathe a sigh of regret when the eventful year "down yonder" draws to a close. Ages 10-up. (Oct.)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 8 - 12 years
  • Grade Level: Preschool - 7
  • Lexile Measure: 610L (What's this?)
  • Series: Newbery Medal Book
  • Hardcover: 130 pages
  • Publisher: Dial Books; First Edition edition (October 1, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0803725183
  • ISBN-13: 978-0803725188
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 0.7 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (276 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #99,884 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I don't always necessarily enjoy the books that win the Newbery Award, but this one is deserving. I can honestly say I would recommend it for anyone in 5th grade right on up to senior citizens. ("A Year Down Yonder" also stands alone very well - you don't need to have read "A Long Way From Chicago" in order to understand or enjoy this one.) The narrator is a 15 year old girl who is sent from Chicago to live with her grandmother in a rural town during the depression. We quickly come to appreciate the comic aspects of small-town life, but most especially we enjoy the wily ways of the grandmother, who is nobody's fool and mischievous to boot. At the same time, we admire her toughness and the warm heart behind the hard exterior. Each chapter is an amusing anecdote all its own, as we follow the town through a year from fall to summer. Small town incidents like halloween pranks, Christmas plays, ladies' luncheons and big storms become masterfully funny stories. Moments of this coming-of-age story are genuinely touching, while mirth prevails throughout. You will have a great time reading this one.
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Format: Paperback
Richard Peck's A Year Down Yonder chronicles the zany adventures of Grandma Dowdel and her granddaughter Mary Alice. Raised in Chicago, Mary Alice is in for quite a shock when she finds herself sent to live with her grandmother in a country town in 1937. Although Mary Alice has a hard time adjusting (she has to learn to keep her beloved cat Bootsie outside and play her Philco portable radio at night in bed), she grows accustomed to the wacky way of living in which her grandmother has grown to love. Whether Mary Alice is helping her grandmother steal pecans to make a pie or making tarts for the Auxiliary Ladies, she never forgets her family and how much they mean to her. As the story draws to a close, Mary Alice finds herself closer to her grandmother than she ever thought would happen when she moved from Chicago.
This book does everything it can to keep the reader interested. From Grandma Dowdel's outrageous acts to Mary Alice's adventures in school, this book is never boring. In fact, it's hard to put down! The characters are extremely well developed and the detailed descriptions of the crazy stunts Grandma Dowdel and Mary Alice take part in are wonderful. In some way, every reader would be able to relate to the characters-whether it being the new kid on the block like Mary Alice or having a silly relative like Grandma Dowdel. If you are ever looking for a book that has wonderful humor, a lot of adventure or a sense or realism, A Year Down Yonder is a top pick!
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Format: Hardcover
This book, the sequel to "A Long Way from Chicago", is worthy of attention too (I hope the Newbery committee considers it). It is just as funny as the original, which won a Newbery Honor.
Poor Mary Alice! She is sent to Grandma's house for a year, while her parents get back on their feet after the depression. In this book, Mary Alice is fifteen and can't think of anything worse than spending time in a tiny place, so unlike her hometown of Chicago.
This book finds all new adventures for Mary Alice and her eccentric grandmother, from the glue that will hold "till kingdom come" to the cherry tarts for the DAR (Daughters of the American Revolution)tea, the fun just keeps coming. This book will make you laugh out loud and is a quick, enjoyable read.
Definitely a MUST READ for fans of "A Long Way from Chicago".
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Format: Hardcover
Richard Peck does it again and does it better with A Year Down Yonder. It's hard to believe that anything could top the award winning A Long Way from Chicago, but this does. This time Mary Alice goes to live with Grandma Dowdel alone, and the results are hilarious. Mary, who was always more wise to the ways of her grandmother, learns a few new things about the town and her grandmother while managing to cause a stir herself. Once again, Grandma Dowdel's antics are both humorous and heart-warming, but it's her commentaries about the people of the town that make it a side-splitting riot. A Year Down Yonder is a must read.
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A Kid's Review on May 1, 2007
Format: Paperback
I am a 6th grader snd in my class we had to pick a award winning book, i picked A Year Down Yonder. I will tell you a little about the book and maybe you will read this book too.

Mary-Alice is a 15 year old rich girl from Chicago who moved to a small farm town because of the recession in 1937. She is outspoken and well educated. But the real struggle is dealing with her out of the ordinary Grandmother. The book, A Year Down Yonder by Richard Peck tells the story of the pair of mix matched family members learning to understand each other.

This realistic fiction book is about Mary-Alice and her Grandma. Mary Alice has many unexpected adventures with her grandmother throughout the book.

Mary Alice is not accepted by the kids at the small school. She is befriended by a shy local girl, Ina Rae. Although they are very different they become good friends.

Mary Alice shares many interesting situations with her Grandmother and slowly learns to appreciate the quality of life that she can have outside of the city. She eventually marries a local boy named Royce. Do you think she will stay in this hick town or move back to the city?

I think the theme of this book is not to judge a place or person before getting to know it. Mary-Alice started out not liking her Grandmother's small town but in the end enjoyed her life there and met her future husband there too.

I would recommend this book if you like humor.
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