Cover image for A year down yonder
Title:
A year down yonder
Author:
Peck, Richard, 1934-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Random House Audio : Listening Library, 2000.
Physical Description:
3 audio discs (3 hr., 24 min.) : digital ; 4 3/4 in.
Summary:
During the recession of 1937, fifteen-year-old Mary Alice is sent to live with her feisty, larger-than-life grandmother in rural Illinois and comes to a better understanding of this fearsome woman.
General Note:
Compact discs.

Unabridged.

Sequel to: A long way from Chicago.
Language:
English
Added Author:
ISBN:
9780807211694

9781400084968
Format :
Audiobook on CD

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Summary

Summary

Mary Alice and Grandma Dowdel return for more astonishing, laugh-out-loud adventures when fifteen-year-old Mary Alice moves in with her spicy grandmother for the year. Her extended visit is filled with moonlit schemes, romances both foiled and founded, and a whole parade of fools made to suffer in unusual (and always hilarious) ways.


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 3

Booklist Review

Gr. 6^-10. With the same combination of wit, gentleness, and outrageous farce as Peck's Newbery Honor book, Long Way from Chicago (1998), this sequel tells the story of Joey's younger sister, Mary Alice, 15, who spends the year of 1937 back with Grandma Dowdel in a small town in Illinois. It's still the Depression; Dad has lost his job, and Mary Alice has been sent from Chicago to live with Grandma and enroll in the "hick-town's" 25-student high school. As in the first book, much of the fun comes from the larger-than-life characters, whether it's the snobbish DAR ladies or the visiting WPA artist, who paints a nude picture of the postmistress (nude, not naked; he studied in Paris). The wry one-liners and tall tales are usually Grandma's ("When I was a girl, we had to walk in our sleep to keep from freezing to death"), or Mary Alice's commentary as she looks back ("Everybody in this town knew everything about you. They knew things that hadn't even happened yet" ). That adult perspective is occasionally intrusive and Mary Alice sometimes seems younger than 15, though her awkward romance with a classmate is timeless. The heart of the book is Grandma--huge and overbearing, totally outside polite society. Just as powerful is what's hidden: Mary Alice discovers kindness and grace as well as snakes in the attic. Most moving is Mary Alice's own growth. During a tornado she leaves her shelter to make sure that Grandma is safe at home. In fact, as Mary Alice looks back, it's clear that Grandma has remained her role model, never more generous than when she helped her granddaughter leave. --Hazel Rochman


Publisher's Weekly Review

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.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved


School Library Journal Review

Gr 5-8-Richard Peck's Newbery Award-winner (Dial, 2000) is a multi-layered story of small town life spiced with humor, love, and a bit of history. Although 15-year-old Mary Alice Dowdel is none too happy when she must spend a year with Grandma Dowdel. It's 1937, and her parents are only able to afford a small room in Chicago, and her much-loved older brother, Joey, is off serving in the Civilian Conservation Corps. Mary Alice worries about fitting in at the two-room schoolhouse, and wonders how she'll cope with her crusty, sometimes embarrassingly eccentric grandmother. Harsh Depression era realities are not ignored, but listeners will spend most of their time laughing at the way Grandma outwits a classroom bully, some Halloween pranksters, and the local D.A.R. An itinerant artist, a risqu‚ postmistress, and a community full of memorable characters provide more laughs. After twelve months, Mary Alice feels at home in this tiny Illinois town, and has developed a new respect and abiding affection for her maverick grandmother. Lois Smith's masterful comic timing has a country flair that conveys Peck's humorous and heartwarming book perfectly. This is a must buy for every library with audiobook collections. Even high school and adult audiences will enjoy A Year Down Yonder.-Barbara Wysocki, Cora J. Belden Library. Rocky Hill, CT (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Excerpts

Excerpts

Prologue It was a September morning, hazy with late summer, and now with all the years between. Mother was seeing me off at Dearborn Station in Chicago. We'd come in a taxicab because of my trunk. But Mother would ride back home on the El. There wasn't much more than a nickel in her purse, and only a sandwich for the train in mine. My ticket had pretty well cleaned us out. My trunk, a small one, held every stitch of clothes I had and two or three things of Mother's that fit me. "Try not to grow too fast," she murmured. "But anyway, skirts are shorter this year." Then we couldn't look at each other. I was fifteen, and I'd been growing like a weed. My shoes from Easter gripped my feet.  A billboard across from the station read: WASN'T THE DEPRESSION AWFUL? This was to make us think the hard times were past. But now in 1937 a recession had brought us low again. People were beginning to call it the Roosevelt recession. Dad had lost his job, so we'd had to give up the apartment. He and Mother were moving into a "light housekeeping" room. They could get it for seven dollars a week, with kitchen privileges, but it was only big enough for the two of them. My brother Joey--Joe--had been taken on by the Civilian Conservation Corps to plant trees out west. That left me, Mary Alice. I wished I was two years older and a boy. I wished I was Joey. But I wasn't, so I had to go down to live with Grandma Dowdel, till we could get on our feet as a family again. It meant I'd have to leave my school. I'd have to enroll in the hick-town school where Grandma lived. Me, a city girl, in a town that didn't even have a picture show. It meant I'd be living with Grandma. No telephone, of course. And the attic was spooky and stuffy, and you had to go outdoors to the privy. Nothing modern. Everything as old as Grandma. Some of it older. Now they were calling the train, and my eyes got blurry. Always before, Joey and I had gone to Grandma's for a week in the summer. Now it was just me. And at the other end of the trip--Grandma. Mother gave me a quick squeeze before she let me go. And I could swear I heard her murmur, "Better you than me."  She meant Grandma. Rich Chicago Girl Oh, didn't I feel sorry for myself when the Wabash Railroad's Blue Bird train steamed into Grandma's town. The sandwich was still crumbs in my throat because I didn't have the dime for a bottle of pop. They wanted a dime for pop on the train. My trunk thumped out onto the platform from the baggage car ahead. There I stood at the end of the world with all I had left. Bootsie and my radio. Bootsie was my cat, with a patch of white fur on each paw. She'd traveled in a picnic hamper. Bootsie had come from down here, two summers ago when she was a kitten. Now she was grown but scrawny. She'd spent the trip trying to claw through the hamper. She didn't like change any more than I did. My portable radio was in my other hand. It was a Philco with a leatherette cover and handle. Portable radios weighed ten pounds in those days. As the train pulled out behind me, there came Grandma up the platform steps. My goodness, she was a big woman. I'd forgotten. And taller still with her spidery old umbrella held up to keep off the sun of high noon. A fan of white hair escaped the big bun on the back of her head. She drew nearer till she blotted out the day. You couldn't call her a welcoming woman, and there wasn't a hug in her. She didn't put out her arms, so I had nothing to run into. Nobody had told Grandma that skirts were shorter this year. Her skirttails brushed her shoes. I recognized the dress. It was the one she put on in hot weather to walk uptown in. Though I was two years older, two years taller than last time, she wasn't one for personal comments. The picnic hamper quivered, and she noticed. "What's in there?" "Bootsie," I said. "My cat." "Hoo-boy," Grandma said. "Another mouth to feed." Her lips pleated. "And what's that thing?" She nodded to my other hand. "My radio." But it was more than a radio to me. It was my last touch with the world. "That's all we need." Grandma looked skyward. "More noise." She aimed one of her chins down the platform. "That yours?" She meant the trunk. It was the footlocker Dad had brought home from the Great War. "Leave it," she said. "They'll bring it to the house." She turned and trudged away, and I was supposed to follow. I walked away from my trunk, wondering if I'd ever see it again. It wouldn't have lasted long on the platform in Chicago. Hot tongs wouldn't have separated me from Bootsie and my radio. The recession of thirty-seven had hit Grandma's town harder than it had hit Chicago. Grass grew in the main street. Only a face or two showed in the window of The Coffee Pot Cafe. Moore's Store was hurting for trade. Weidenbach's bank looked to be just barely in business. On the other side of the weedy road, Grandma turned the wrong way, away from her house. Two old slab-sided dogs slept on the sidewalk. Bootsie knew because she was having a conniption in the hamper. And my radio was getting heavier. I caught up with Grandma. "Where are we going?" "Going?" she said, the picture of surprise. "Why, to school. You've already missed pretty nearly two weeks." "School!" I'd have clutched my forehead if my hands weren't full. "On my first day here?" Grandma stopped dead and spoke clear. "You're going to school. I don't want the law on me." I could have broken down and bawled then. Bootsie in her hamper, banging my knees. The sun beating down like it was still summer. I could have flopped in the weeds and cried my eyes out. But I thought I better not.  Under a shade tree just ahead was a hitching rail. Tied to it were some mostly swaybacked horses and a mule or two that the country kids rode to school. One horse was like another to me, but Grandma stopped to look them over. There was a big gray with a tangled tail, switching flies. Grandma examined him from stem to stern. I tought she might pry his jaws apart for a look at his teeth. She took her time looking, though I was in no hurry. Then on she went across a bald yard to the school. It was wooden-sided with a bell tower. I sighed. On either side of the school was an outdoor privy. One side for the boys, one for the girls. Labeled. And a pump. Grandma slowed again as the bell tower rose above us. She'd never been to high school. She'd been expelled from a one-room schoolhouse long before eighth grade. I happened to know this. Crumbling steps led up to a front entrance. Somebody had scrawled a poem all over the door: Ashes to ashes, Dust to dust, Oil them brains Before they rust. Steps led down to the basement under the front stoop. Grandma went down there, closing her umbrella. The basement was one big room. A basketball hoop hung at either end, but it didn't look like a gym to me. Smelled like one, though. A tall, hollow-cheeked man leaned on a push broom in the center of the floor. "Well, August!" Grandma boomed, and the room echoed. This woke him up. When he saw Grandma, he swallowed hard. People often did. He wore old sneakers and a rusty black suit under a shop apron. His necktie was fraying at the knot. "I've brought this girl to be enrolled." Grandma indicated me with a thumb. She didn't say I was her granddaughter. She never told more than the minimum. I stood there, fifteen, trying to die of shame. Grandma didn't understand about high school. She was trying to get the janitor to enroll me. But I had it all wrong. Thye'd fired the janitor when times got hard. August--Mr. Fluke-- was the principal, which made him the coach too. And he taught shop to the boys. And swept up. "Well, Mrs. Dowdel," the principal said, "can this girl read and cipher?" Even I saw he was pulling Grandma's leg, which never worked. "Good enough to get by in a school like this," she replied. Mr. Fluke turned to me. "Mary Alice, is it? Down from Chicago?" Everybody in this town knew everything about you. They knew things that hadn't even happened yet. "What grade did they have you in up there?" "Would have been tenth," I mumbled. "Sophomore." "Let's call that junior year down here," Mr. Fluke said. "It don't matter, and there's plenty of room for you. High school's getting to be a luxury in times like these. So many boys have dropped out entirely, I don't know where I'll find five to play basketball, come winter, or to field the Christmas program." The thought of winter--Christmas--here chilled my heart. "Oh, we'll pull a couple of the farm boys back after they get the last of the hay in," Mr. Fluke went on. "But some of 'em won't drift back to school till that last ear of corn is picked in November. You know boys." Grandma nodded. "Boys is bad business," she said, quite agreeable for her. "Though girls is worse." Excerpted from A Year down Yonder by Richard Peck All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.