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Cover image for A long way from Chicago : a novel in stories
Format:
Title:
A long way from Chicago : a novel in stories
ISBN:
9780803722903

9780142401101

9780141303529

9781435233041

9780141311821

9780439240925
Edition:
1st ed.
Publication Information:
New York : Dial Books for Young Readers, ©1998.
Physical Description:
148 pages ; 22 cm.
Series title(s):
Number in series:
1.
General Note:
Sequel: A year down yonder.
Contents:
Prologue -- Shotgun Cheatham's last night above ground -- The mouse in the milk -- A one-woman crime wave -- The day of judgment -- The phantom brakeman -- Things with wings -- Centennial summer -- The troop train.
Summary:
A boy recounts his annual summer trips to rural Illinois with his sister during the Great Depression to visit their larger-than-life grandmother.
Reading Level:
Middle School.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader MG 5.0 5.0 Quiz: 27940.

Accelerated Reader AR MG 5.0 5.0 27940.

Reading Counts RC 6-8 4.6 10 Quiz: 17319 Guided reading level: V.
Holds:

Available:*

Library
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J Peck, R.
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J Peck, R.
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TEEN FICTION Peck, R.
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JUV FIC PECK
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FICTION - PECK
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JR PEC
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PECK
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PECK
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J FIC PECK 1998
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J FICTION PECK
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J FICTION PECK
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YA FICTION PECK
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JF PECK
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JF PECK
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J Peck, R.
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J PECK
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On Order

Summary

Summary

This Newbery Honor Winner and National Book Award Finalist is an unforgettable modern classic and features the debut of the larger-than-life Grandma Dowdel

What happens when Joey and his sister, Mary Alice--two city slickers from Chicago--make their annual summer visits to Grandma Dowdel's seemingly sleepy Illinois town?
August 1929: They see their first corpse, and he isn't resting easy.
August 1930: The Cowgill boys terrorize the town, and Grandma fights back.
August 1931: Joey and Mary Alice help Grandma trespass, poach, catch the sheriff in his underwear, and feed the hungry -- all in one day.

And there's more, as Joey and Mary Alice make seven summer trips to Grandma's--each one funnier than the year before--in self-contained chapters that readers can enjoy as short stories or take together for a rip-roaringly good novel. In the tradition of American humorists from Mark Twain to Flannery O'Connor, popular author Richard Peck has created a memorable world filled with characters who, like Grandma herself, are larger than life and twice as entertaining.

Newbery Honor Winner
National Book Award Finalist
ALA Best Book for Young Adults
ALA Notable Book
New York Times Best Seller

"A rollicking celebration of an eccentric grandmother and childhood memories."-- School Library Journal (starred review)

"A novel that skillfully captures the nuances of small-town life [...] Remarkable and fine."-- Kirkus (starred review)

"Fresh, warm and anything but ordinary."-- Publishers Weekly


Author Notes

Richard Peck was born in Decatur, Illinois on April 5, 1934. He received a bachelor's degree in English literature from DePauw University in 1956. After graduation, he served two years in the U.S. Army in Germany, where he worked as a chaplain's assistant writing sermons and completing paperwork. He received a master's degree in English from Southern Illinois University in 1959. He taught high school English in Illinois and New York City.

He stopped teaching in 1971 to write a novel. His first book, Don't Look and It Won't Hurt, was published in 1972 and was adapted as the 1992 film Gas Food Lodging. He wrote more than 40 books for both adults and young adults including Amanda/Miranda, Those Summer Girls I Never Met, The River Between Us, A Long Way from Chicago, A Season of Gifts, The Teacher's Funeral, Fair Weather, Here Lies the Librarian, On the Wings of Heroes, and The Best Man. A Year down Yonder won the Newbery Medal in 2001 and Are You in the House Alone? won an Edgar Award. The Ghost Belonged to Me was adapted into the film Child of Glass. He received the MAE Award in 1990 and the National Humanities Medal in 2002. He died following a long battle with cancer on May 23, 2018 at the age of 84.

(Bowker Author Biography)


Reviews 5

School Library Journal Review

Gr 4-8-A rollicking celebration of an eccentric grandmother and childhood memories. Set in the 1930s, the book follows Joe and Mary Alice Dowdel as they make their annual August trek to visit their grandmother who lives in a sleepy Illinois town somewhere between Chicago and St. Louis. A woman with plenty of moxie, she keeps to herself, a difficult task in this small community. However, Grandma Dowdel uses her wit and ability to tell whoppers to get the best of manipulative people or those who put on airs. She takes matters into her own hands to intimidate a father who won't control his unruly sons, and forces the bank to rescind a foreclosure on an elderly woman's house. Whether it's scaring a pretentious newspaper man back to the city or stealing the sheriff's boat and sailing right past him as he drunkenly dances with his buddies at the Rod & Gun Club, she never ceases to amaze her grandchildren with her gall and cunning behavior. Each chapter resembles a concise short story. Peck's conversational style has a true storyteller's wit, humor, and rhythm. Joe, the narrator, is an adult looking back on his childhood memories; in the prologue, readers are reminded that while these tales may seem unbelievable, "all memories are true." Perfect for reading aloud, A Long Way from Chicago is a great choice for family sharing.-Shawn Brommer, Southern Tier Library System, Painted Post, NY (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Publisher's Weekly Review

Peck (Strays Like Us) first created the inimitable central figure of this novel in a previously published short story. Although the narrator, Joey, and his younger sister, Mary Alice, live in the Windy city during the reign of Al Capone and Bugs Moran, most of their adventures occur "a long way from Chicago," during their annual down-state visits with Grandma Dowdel. A woman as "old as the hills," "tough as an old boot," and larger than life ("We could hardly see her town because of Grandma. She was so big, and the town was so small"), Grandma continually astounds her citified grandchildren by stretching the boundaries of truth. In eight hilarious episodes spanning the years 1929-1942, she plots outlandish schemes to even the score with various colorful members of her community, including a teenaged vandal, a drunken sheriff and a well-to-do banker. Readers will be eager to join the trio of Grandma, Joey and Mary Alice on such escapades as preparing an impressive funeral for Shotgun Cheatham, catching fish from a stolen boat and arranging the elopement of Vandalia Eubanks and Junior Stubbs. Like Grandma Dowdel's prize-winning gooseberry pie, this satire on small-town etiquette is fresh, warm and anything but ordinary. Ages 9-12. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved


Horn Book Review

(Intermediate) ""What little we knew about grown-ups didn't seem to cover Grandma."" Using life in a Depression-era small town as the backdrop, Peck regales us with seven thoroughly entertaining stories featuring larger-than-life Grandma Dowdel, a formidable woman whose un-grandmotherly ways are a constant source of surprise (and often shock) to her Chicago-bred grandchildren. For seven summers Joey and Mary Alice spend a week with Grandma, who claims she ""like[s] to keep herself to herself,"" but who surreptitiously does exactly the opposite. Whether getting revenge on the town thugs with a cherry bomb and a dead mouse in a milk bottle or stealing the sheriff's boat to run her illegal fish traps, Grandma is a refreshingly undidactic character. Peck's skill as a stylist, his ear for dialogue, and his sense of drama are all in evidence here. Told with verve, economy, and assurance, each tale is a small masterpiece of storytelling, subtly building on the ones that precede it. Taken as a whole, the novel reveals a strong sense of place, a depth of characterization, and a rich sense of humor. Although firmly rooted in the past, there's no nostalgia here: issues such as bank foreclosures, Prohibition, and hungry drifters play a large part in Grandma's schemes. Armed with her twelve-gauge double-barreled rifle and her own sense of truth, justice, and ethics, Grandma will always be there, ""stroking her chins,"" plotting revenge, and righting the world. kitty flynn (c) Copyright 2010. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Kirkus Review

In a novel that skillfully captures the nuances of small-town life, an elderly man reminisces about his annual trips from Chicago to his grandmother's house in rural Illinois during the Depression. When the book opens, Joey and his sister, Mary Alice, nine and seven, respectively, learn that they will be spending a week every August with Grandma Dowdel. In eight vignettes, one for each summer from 1929Ž1935, with the final story set when Joey's troop train passes through in 1942, Peck (Strays Like Us, 1998) weaves a wry tale that ranges from humorous to poignant. Grandma Dowdel, with her gruff persona and pragmatic outlook on life, embodies not only the heart of a small town but the spirit of an era gone by. She turns the tables on a supercilious reporter from the big city, bests the local sheriff, feeds the drifters of the Depression, inspires a brawl between elderly (ancient) war heroes, and more. Peck deftly captures the feel of the times, from the sublime bliss of rooting around the ice bin at the local store for a nickel Nehi during the dog days of summer, to a thrilling flight in a biplane. Remarkable and fine. (Fiction. 9-12)


Booklist Review

Gr. 6^-10. Grandma Dowdel is not a good influence--and that's one good reason why Joey likes visiting her. Each August, from 1929 (when Joey is nine) to 1935, he and his younger sister travel by train from Al Capone's Chicago to spend a week with Grandma in her scrappy small Illinois town. In seven short stories, one for each summer, Grandma lies, cheats, trespasses, and contrives to help the town underdogs (including her own worst enemy) outwit the banker, the Holy Rollers, and the establishment. Part vaudeville act, part laconic tall tale, the stories, with their dirty tricks and cunning plots, make you laugh out loud at the farce and snicker at the reversals. Like Grandma, the characters are larger-than-life funny, yet Peck is neither condescending nor picturesque. With the tall talk, irony, insult, and vulgarity, there's also a heartfelt sense of the Depression's time and place, when a knot of people wait outside the store for the day-old bread to become half price, and Grandma defies the sheriff, poaches catfish, and fries it up to feed the Depression drifters with her home-brewed beer ("They didn't thank her. She wasn't looking for thanks"). The viewpoint is adult--elderly Joe is looking back now at the changes he saw in those seven years--but many young people will recognize the irreverent, contrary voices of their own family legends across generations. The first story, "Shotgun Cheatham's First Night above Ground," appeared in the anthology Twelve Shots: Stories about Guns (1997), edited by Harry Mazer. --Hazel Rochman


Table of Contents

Prologuep. 1
Shotgun Cheatham's Last Night Above Ground, 1929p. 3
The Mouse in the Milk, 1930p. 17
A One-Woman Crime Wave, 1931p. 37
The Day of Judgment, 1932p. 61
The Phantom Brakeman, 1933p. 79
Things with Wings, 1934p. 101
Centennial Summer, 1935p. 121
The Troop Train, 1942p. 147