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A Season of Gifts (A Long Way from Chicago #3)

3.94  ·  Rating Details  ·  2,682 Ratings  ·  650 Reviews
One of the most adored characters in childrenÕs literature is the eccentric, forceful, bighearted Grandma Dowdel, star of the Newbery AwardÐwinning A Year Down Yonder and Newbery HonorÐwinning A Long Way from Chicago. And it turns out that her story isnÕt over. ItÕs now 1958, and a new family has moved in next door to Mrs. Dowdel: a minister and his wife and kids. Soon Mrs ...more
Paperback, 208 pages
Published October 14th 2010 by Puffin Books (first published September 17th 2009)
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Sep 27, 2012 Melody rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
My reaction to this, hard on the heels of the two excellent predecessors is a loud and incredulous, "What the HELL?"

It's well-written, technically. But it's soulless and awful and parts of it made my skin crawl. The Grandma Dowdel in this book is not even shirt-tail cousins with the Grandma Dowdel in the first two. And the stereotypes! Goodness me, the stereotypes.

Bah, humbug.
Linda Hart
Mar 28, 2015 Linda Hart rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Light, easy read that is funny, heartwarming, and thought-provoking. l like the idea of an older woman being the centerpiece in this story! Mrs. Dowdel gives 'gifts' that can't be measured by size or price to the young family who moves into her neighborhood.
Jun 29, 2009 Tasha rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: childrens-books
Head back to the wonderful character of Grandma Dowdel. In this third novel, it is 1958 and a family has moved in next door to her. They are poor as church mice, appropriate since the father is a Methodist pastor. The children include Bob, who immediately falls prey to the town bullies in remarkable fashion. There is his older sister Phyllis, who is obsessed with Elvis and with one of the bullies who bears a resemblance to The King. And then there is his younger sister, Ruth Ann, who is a little ...more
Bewildered by accolades. I really expected to like this a lot (I can generally lay aside isolated incidences of racial insensitivity when I'm deciding how good a book is otherwise, or how much I like it), because I've liked many of Peck's other books, including the previous one in the series, A Year Down Yonder--I read that when it came out and commented that it was the best new kid's book I'd read in years. The writing is good here, of course, because it's Richard Peck; it's technically good. B ...more
Feb 22, 2010 Lora rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: children-s-lit
I liked reading about Grandma Dowdel again, but it just wasn't the same without Joey and Mary Alice. It was an okay read, but not something I would pick up right away.
Sep 05, 2012 Patti rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I was so anxious to read A Season of Gifts as the final episode after the hilariously entertaining A Long Way from Chicago and A Year Down Yonder. I even thought the picture on the front was delightful – but oh how the whole book left me baffled, and frankly disappointed.

It starts out with hijinks by the local bullies to the poor new kid, new neighbor of Grandma Dowdel. The Grandma Dowdel of “old” would have done something to avenge the obvious rotten bullies, leaving us laughing and having at
Dec 11, 2011 David rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This continuation of the story of Grandma (now Mrs.) Dowdel from A Long Way From Chicago and A Year Down Yonder snuck up on me, and it's BEEN OUT FOR LIKE TWO YEARS. It was just as funny and sneaky insightful as its predecessors. While I miss Joey and especially Mary Alice, the three new preacher's kids: narrator Bob, Elvis-loving Phyllis and Ruth Ann are solid characters. Twelve-year-old Bob is anxty. Phyllis has some hilariously real 14-year-old experiences too spoilery to mention. But first g ...more
Jan 06, 2016 Barb rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
My daughter-in-law's mother recommended this book. As I was looking for a pleasant, clean and uplifting Christmas book to read during the holidays, I jumped at the recommendation. I'm glad I did. I didn't get the book finished until after the New Year, but it helped me keep that warm, Christmas-y feeling just a little longer! This book takes place in the late 1950s in a small town. I was born in the early 1960s, so it seemed quite nostalgic to me. Thanks for the recommendation, Ruth!
Arthur Alfaro
May 13, 2015 Arthur Alfaro rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I like this story because it is funny. and the book is about a guy that live in a house that look haunted and everybody thought he was mean but inside he is nice so he gave people present on christmas
Jul 15, 2009 Alison rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, middle-grade
Richard Peck signed my prepublication copy of this book, due out in September 2009.

Set in small town Illinois, 1958, when World War 2 is still vivid, the cold war in full swing and pictures of young Elvis cover bedroom walls of high school girls.

At first glance, the story is about a preacher's family: elementary aged girl, middle grade brother and highschool bound sister. But it unfolds as a tale of generosity and friendship abundently shared with their cranky mountain of an old woman next door,
This story was truly a treat in many ways: colorful characters, a solid plot line, and just enough period detail to make the setting come to life. Peck relates the trials of Bob and his family as they move to a small town where everyone knows everyone–and their business. Not only that, but they move in right next to the eccentric and ornery Mrs. Dowdel. Peck’s juxtaposition of Bob’s family’s difficulties and Mrs. Dowdel’s hijinks provides an excellent balance of humor and seriousness. The histor ...more
Jun 01, 2009 Edie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Richard Peck does it again, captures the heart of old time middle America with a preacher's family who move in next door to Grandma Dowdel. One of myh favorite characters is the little sister, Ruth Ann, who not only begins to spend lots of time with Grandma Dowdel, but to look, talk and act like her. A sweet read about a simpler life, where the bullies get their just desserts, parents (especially moms) can surprise their children, and kindness can be part of even the gruffest of personalities.
Johnny Bennett
May 11, 2015 Johnny Bennett rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Find out who really runs the town in this look at rural Illinois. Richard Peck is the award winning author of A Year Down Yonder and A Long Way from Chicago, the two books which precede this in the serious. They introduce us to Grandma Dowdel and her wild ways. A Season of Gifts doesn’t so much continue the story, but starts a new story with some of the old characters mixed in. Don’t expect the kids from the first two books to show up anywhere in this one.
The story is told from the viewpoint of
Amy Carr
Dec 20, 2009 Amy Carr rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book! I would dare say that Richard Peck has become one of my favorite authors of all time! This book brings back the fantastic character of Grandma Dowdle (Long Way From Chicago and a Year Down Under) and tells a funny, touching story from the point of view of a 12-year old preacher's son who has just moved next door to Grandma Dowdle and learns some valuable lessons about living and serving. I loved this story and thought it had a FANTASTIC message!
Probably more 3.5 stars. I liked it well enough - Ruth Ann was such a great kid, Mrs. Dowdel fun and interesting, and Bob's adventures were amusing (even if he was one of the least fleshed out narrators I've come across). It felt kind of thin and shallow, plot-wise, though. I liked it, but a lot of the same things happened in the Blossom books, only in better detail.
Jun 04, 2009 Karlan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Grandma Dowdel, the shotgun toting woman of A YEAR DOWN YONDER and A LONG WAY FROM CHICAGO, stars again in a delightful story. The year is 1958, so her grandchildren are grown, but a new family of 5 next door needs her help. There are laugh out loud episodes and clever solutions to problems, too. This is sure to be a hit and can stand alone just fine.
Jun 22, 2009 Christy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The first two books in this series, A Long Way From Chicago, and A Year Down Yonder, were fantastic. A Season of Gifts is better. Richard Peck ties apparently unrelated events together so that the whole book suddenly pulls tight like a corset in the end. Grandma Dowdle never fails to surprise and delight. An easy 5 stars.
This was my non-print source. I listened to this book on CD. I appreciated the reader, John McLarty's, voice because the previous books I listened to on CD were read by women. It was nice to hear a man read the story, and he didn't raise his voice for the female parts either!
Jan 05, 2016 Jessica rated it really liked it
An enjoyable look at Grandma Dowdel's antics through the eyes of a slightly cynical, reclusive preacher's son. I'd hoped it would be more Christmassy, but no matter the time of year, it was a wonderful book.
Abby Johnson
Oct 14, 2009 Abby Johnson rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audio
Granny Dowdell is back, this time helping out new neighbors in 1958. The nostalgia factor is high and it's an often-funny gentle read, but Richard Peck doesn't do much for me, I'm afraid.
May 24, 2010 Sarah rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: middle-grade
Fabulous book, of course. Every bit as hilarious and poignant as A Long Way from Chicago. I’m thinking of making this one of my annual Christmas books.
Christian McKay
That does it. Richard Peck is my favorite middle-grade writer today. More charm in a single paragraph than most books have from cover to cover.
Feb 21, 2013 Darlene rated it really liked it
very good read not quite as good as "A Year Down Yonder" but really good just the same.
Jan 31, 2014 Tara rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is a sequel to Peck's other two in this series, A Long Way from Chicago and A Year Down Yonder. Grandma Dowdel is the same, perhaps a bit gentler in her advanced years, but this time, the story is told from the perspective of a Preacher's son that moves in next door. You do not have to have read the previous two books, except that it gives you a better sense of the Grandma character, who is so larger than life it is hard to wrap up a description on a few words. Being from Central Illin ...more
Narrated by Ron McLarty. The audio version is funny and entertaining, with plenty of opportunity for McLarty to play up the quirky elder women characters such as, and especially, Mrs. Dowdel. I listened to it twice in a row!

Bob's father begins a Methodist church in a small Illinois town and the family moves next door to old Mrs. Dowdel. Young Bob narrates an eventful autumn of Halloween, homecoming, Thanksgiving and Christmas, with the no-nonsense, straight-shooting Mrs. Dowdel at the center of
Dec 17, 2015 Leonard rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Richard Peck is a great writer, and this one is very worthwhile, although it seems a little more complicated than some of his work and doesn't have the staying power of the best Christmas stories such as "A Christmas Carol" and "The Best Christmas Pageant Ever." My enthusiasm for it was also weakened by having the military association with the Christmas event toward the end of the book. There seems to be little or no connection between serving in a military organization and celebration the birth ...more
Adrienne Gass
Feb 25, 2015 Adrienne Gass rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed this book. You would think it was a Christmas story from the cover, but Christmas doesn't figure prominently in the story. Bob and his family move to a new town where his father, a Methodist preacher, is to fix up an old church and attract a new congregation. With the help of their feisty gun-wielding neighbor, Mrs. Dowdle who isn't a church lady and doesn't neighbor, they may just succeed in filling up the pews. But, can the new church survive their oldest daughter Phyllis's dalliance ...more
I can never resist Grandma Dowdel. I've been meaning to read this one for a couple years now, but I didn't want to read it except near Christmas, and it always seemed to be checked out. Finally got a copy of the audio book this year, and at a nice, short 3 CD length, finished it quickly. As in A Long Way from Chicago and A Year Down Yonder, Grandma Dowdel (who's getting quite old--it's now 1958) continues to live her life without regard for what anyone else thinks, and usually so that everything ...more
Brian Lang
Nov 26, 2014 Brian Lang rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a satisfying conclusion to Richard Peck's trilogy "A Long Way From Chicago". Joey and Mary Alice have grown up and moved on, leaving Grandma Dowdell alone in her small town. The story is told from the point of view of Bob, a twelve year old preacher's kid that is new in town. We follow Bob and his family from just before school starts in 1958 until Christmas of that same year. This book is very good and well-written. Although it is aimed at middle schoolers, this book is suitable for al ...more
I would love to read the books that lead up to this by Richard Peck, "a long way from Chicago" and "a year down yonder", just to see if Richard Peck can write anything better. I know that is harsh, but c'mon, this was BORING. From other reviews I have read on it, I am not the only one. I am a little confused on why Richard Peck would have two great books (so I have heard) lead up to this one. Now that I am done with the hard part, I do think that I could recommend this book to young readers who ...more
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Caliber Beta Dragons: A Season of Gifts 4 5 Apr 30, 2015 02:18PM  
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Richard Peck is an American novelist known for his prolific contributions to modern young adult literature. He was awarded the Newbery Medal in 2001 for his novel A Year Down Yonder.

Richard Peck was born in 1934 in Decatur, Illinois, a town he describes as quiet and safe. His mother, Virginia, was a dietitian and his father, Wayne, was a merchant who often rode his Harley Davidson to work.

More about Richard Peck...

Other Books in the Series

A Long Way from Chicago (3 books)
  • A Long Way from Chicago (A Long Way from Chicago, #1)
  • A Year Down Yonder (A Long Way from Chicago, #2)

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“...they'd just tell you to turn the other cheek, wouldn't they?...Trouble is, Mrs. Dowdel observed, after you've turned the other cheek four times, you run out of cheeks.” 6 likes
“Fiction isn't what 'was'. It's 'what if'?” 2 likes
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