A Long Way from Chicago

My youngest picked up the audio version of A Long Way from Chicago and wanted to listen to it in the van.  I had never heard of it before, never read anything by Richard Peck before, and I wasn’t sure how appropriate it was for a seven-year-old.

But I thought we would give it a try.  How bad can a book be with Chicago in it’s title?

We all loved this book!  Joey tells us about his annual summer trips to visit their Grandma Dowdel’s in southern Illinois.  (If you’re from Chicago, you know that anyplace outside of Chicago & its suburbs is considered ‘southern Illinois.’)  He, and his sister, leave the city every summer to spend a week with Grandma Dowdel.  And Grandma Dowdel is far from a typical grandma.

Each chapter covers a successive summer – and each one seems to outdo the last.  Mary Alice finally decides that Grandma isn’t a very good influence on them, a sentiment with which Joey completely agrees.  But their parents continue to send them to Grandma Dowdel’s, and their unusual adventures continue.

All of us laughed so hard at these unbelievable stories we couldn’t wait until we checked out the next audiobook A Year Down Yonder, told from 15-year-old Mary Alice’s point of view.  We quickly followed that book with A Season of Gifts, the story of Grandma Dowdel from the perspective of one of her new neighbors, 12-year-old Bob, at one of the best times of the year, Christmas.

The unusual escapades in each of these three books will have you howling with laughter, and delighted deep down that you had the privilege of knowing Grandma Dowdel – despite her questionable influence.

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