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A Year Down Yonder

(A Long Way from Chicago #2)

4.12  ·  Rating details ·  28,469 ratings  ·  1,988 reviews
Mary Alice remembers childhood summers packed with drama. At fifteen, she faces a whole long year with Grandma Dowdel, well known for shaking up her neighbors-and everyone else. All Mary Alice can know for certain is this: when trying to predict how life with Grandma might turn out . . . better not.

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Paperback, 130 pages
Published November 21st 2002 by Puffin Books (first published 2000)
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Average rating 4.12  · 
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 ·  28,469 ratings  ·  1,988 reviews

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Start your review of A Year Down Yonder (A Long Way from Chicago, #2)
I can often tell how old a person's grandmother was when she died, by the grandchild's descriptions of her. If “Grandma” is perpetually frozen in time as a “dear” woman who baked batches of cookies by the dozen, I can usually surmise that the grandchild lost her at a relatively young age.

Other evidence: how “Grandma” smelled. If the grandmother died while the grandchild was still young, this is typically something favorable: Ivory soap, rose oil, shortbread cookies, a particular perfume.

If, on
With her father out of work during the Great Depression, Mary Alice, the female half of the Windy City siblings that we met in A Long Way from Chicago, returns to stay not just for a week in the summer, but for a WHOLE YEAR at Grandma Dowdel's place. Though her Grandma is still as feisty as ever, Mary Alice has grown a bit, and she's not looking forward to spending so much time in that tiny town. The year passes quickly, though, and thanks to Grandma Dowdel, rather eventfully, what with all the ...more
Aug 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It’s 1937, and many Americans are learning that the Great Depression, which began eight years previously, is not over. In fact, more people are losing their jobs and being evicted and having to scrounge for food. This is the case for Mary Alice’s family. So, while her brother (featured in the “Newberry Honor-winning A Long Way from Chicago”) goes to the Civilian Conservation Corps, Mary Alice is bound “downstate” to spend a year with Grandma Dowdel.

Mary Alice (a young teen) takes her cat and ra
Jun 21, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: coming-of-age, kids
Gorgeous kid's book for all ages. Grandma is really hilarious.
A laugh and a (happy) tear. A fun read. Makes you feel good.
I read A long way from Chicago, the first book, years ago and been meaning to read this one for a long time. And my, is it worthed.

Mary Alice's childhood summers in Grandma Dowdel's sleepy Illinois own had been packed with enough surprises and drama to fill the double bill of any picture show. But now she's fifteen, and with her parents facing hard times in Chic
Apr 18, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Mary Alice’s father had lost his job so her parents moved to a small room only suitable for two, sending her brother Joey in one direction and Mary Alice in the other; she was to stay with Grandma Dowdel for a year. Mary Alice was fifteen and couldn’t imagine not seeing her friends, having a telephone or the internet or even television – starting a new school made her nervous! With her previous visits to her Grandma’s having been spent with Joey and only for a week, she had no idea how she would ...more
Mar 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
My 5th and 6th graders are currently reading this book. It's quite delightful. I started the audio book on the way home from work and couldn't turn it off.

I adore big-boned Grandma Dowdel, with her crafty schemes, her happy trigger finger, and her "eyes in the back of her heart." Some of her ornery sayings and unexpected pranks had me laughing out loud. And best of all, her bold, pushy, cantankerous exterior hides her tender, compassionate, unselfish interior. Watching Mary Alice grow to care f
Jason Koivu
Mar 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
Highly enjoyable down-homey tales of yesteryear! If you can't get enough of stuff like Jean Shepherd's A Christmas Story, this little series is just your patch o' sweet potatoes!

Grandma Dowdel is a fiesty old broad (think Vicki Lawrence's "Mama" character), who possesses a Jeeves-esque way of fixing others' problems. In this, book two, Grandma gets a visit from her teenaged granddaughter, from whose pov we see the story unfold. It's a year in the life of a teen girl going to school and living aw
Nov 19, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: cozy, audible, funny
This was a laugh out loud short that I could have listened to for hours more. The small town, rural, characters are the very best!! All are so creative and quite different that I could not wait to see what they would do next. Grandma is someone I would love to know. This is a series I won't miss. ...more
The Dusty Jacket
It was 1937 and the country was in the midst of what people were calling the Roosevelt recession. The Dowdel family, like so many others, had hit upon hard times and Mary Alice was to be sent to live with her grandmother until the family got back on their feet. She and her brother, Joey, had spent many summers with Grandma Dowdel in her sleepy Illinois town, but Mary Alice was fifteen now and this visit was going to be a full twelve months! With no telephone, an outdoor privy, a spooky attic, an ...more
Dec 05, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: award-winners
3.5 stars. I did not really care much for Mary Alice, who is sent to spend the year with her kooky grandmother because her parents cannot afford to feed her in the late 1930's. On the other hand, I really liked the grandmother, who is a hoot and a prankster, wreaking mischief both on deserving teenagers and adults. My favorite quote from the grandmother about how much easier life was then: "When I was a girl, we had to walk in our sleep to keep from freezing to death." This is a feel good story ...more
2021 Review
Growing up, my parents read this book aloud to us and marveled at how much my Grandma resembled Grandma Dowdel. They roared with laughter over it. With the eyes of a child, I did not see it. But now that I am an adult...

HOLY COW. The resemblance is uncanny. I'm related to Grandma Dowdel.

2009 Review
Entertaining with great wit and a terrific sense of humor
L11_Ryanne Szydlik
Mar 06, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I did not want this book to end! It's one of those stories that you read it to just enjoy it, not just to see how it ends. This is a story about a young girl from Chicago who is sent to live with her Grandmother. Her grandmother's life style is very far removed from what Mary Alice has ever know because her grandmother is pure country. She is so country that even the townspeople are afraid of Grandma Dowdel. In Mary Alice's year stay with grandma she has many life experiences that will follow he ...more
The other John
I think this is a first. Never before have I read a sequel before reading the original novel. (At least as far as I can recall.) (The Discworld books don't count. They aren't organized in a proper order, are they? You can't call a book a sequel unless it's called a sequel on the cover.) (Well, I suppose I can make an exception if it has a number on the spine.) I usually hold out for the original, but in this case my daughter's curriculum assigned her to read this volume and, unlike my daughter, ...more
Anne Slater
Dec 24, 2011 rated it it was amazing
The cover shown above has none of the character of the Scholastic Press edition.... I stayed in bed to read this book this morning. You'd do well to do the same, or to sit down in front of a fire with a cup of tea and a couple of cookies...

A Year Down Yonder is a sequel to A Long Way from Chicago. Same cast of characters, different layout.
Mary Alice, Joey's younger sister, is the narrator. She is about 15. The recession following the Depression and preceding the war means that MA's parents have
Apr 06, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's funny because when I think about the Grandma Dowdel books, I tend to remember not being as impressed by Grandma as the rest of the world seems to be (the children's literature world, anyway.) But when I actually read the books, I am won over completely. I'm not sure why my memory works that way.

What I particularly liked about this book was that it was a lesson in show-don't-tell emotions. Grandma Dowdel is a gruff, rough, occasionally mean old woman. But she also has a caring heart, though
Duffy Pratt
Mar 26, 2013 rated it did not like it
Shelves: childrens
During the depression, a fifteen year old girl goes from Chicago to the countryside to stay with her grandmother for a year. The grandmother is the kind of person that other people would call a "character". The book relates some of her strategems and antics, and they tend to range from amusing to very funny.

My trouble with the book is that it has no story, and no drive. Rather, each chapter centers on some Holiday during the year. And with each Holiday, we get another droll incident about someth
Sep 02, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Listened to this with my true love. I wasn't the only one sniffling at the ending.

I love this book with all my heart. Grandma Dowdel reminds me a lot of my own grandmother, and listening to this brings her back a little. I love the cats in the cob house, and what happens when the tornado comes to town. I love how Joey is and isn't here for the whole book, just like real life.

It's absolutely splendid, and a lovely narrator doesn't hurt a bit. Highly recommended.
Ellie Vinehout
Mar 21, 2017 rated it really liked it
Everything seems to be going well until the great depression hits Mary Alice's family. Her dad lost his job and her family moved into an old apartment for 7 dollars a week. To save money, Mary Alice is sent to her grandma Dowels quiet Illinois town, with a tiny little school house. At first Mary Alice longs to go back to Chicago, but after she meets new friends and goes on new adventure with her over weight, peppy grandma, all she wants to do is stay. ...more
I picked this book up on a whim at my library and devoured it in only a few evenings. I just fell in love with the quirky characters and the hilarious anecdotes that make up this novel.

I loved Grandma so much. She is a fantastic character--seemingly isolated and uninterested in other people, but really invested and wants to help others.

I loved Mary Alice's narrations of the different stories from her year with Grandma. I thought the point of view was very well done and easy to follow. Peck capt
Dec 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
"Hoo-boy!" Yeah. I really got into this. I laughed and laughed. Grandma Dowdel is my hero. I don't even know what to say! Sometimes I wonder what the feminists are going on about. Look at Grandma Dowdel, sure she's a fictional character, but I've met facets of her in many real life women. Strong, full of character, tough (as in enduring), deep-rooted in love and generosity, skilled in essential living-on-nothing, canny as a snake, beautiful, beautiful, beautiful - enormously beautiful as a human ...more
Connie D
This was a very endearing and amusing book. The writer is going into her senior year of high school during the Depression and her parents, out of jobs, can't afford to support her in they send her to stay with her rather kooky grandmother and go to the little schoolhouse in the tiny town. ...more
I've not read any other books by this author, but I'm sure that will change now. Set during the Depression, this is definitely not a depressing book, but is full of humor. When her parents lose their home our 15 year-old heroine is sent from Chicago to live with her backwoods Grandma in lower Illinois, for an entire school year. Feeling awkward and rather in awe of her outspoken, gun-toting Grandmother, she doesn't want to go and has some trouble settling in. But eventually she finds her place, ...more
Lucy Ashton
May 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I’ve read this book time and over again, yet it never fails. It never fails to give me amusement in life. It never fails to inform me of a simpler if not harder way of life. It never fails to impress me with the characters and the subtle changes in the main one. It never fails to make my eyes blurry at the end. It never fails to warm my heart and soul with it’s touching story. It never fails to teach me lessons and morals in a subtle yet simple way of Grandmotherly love. It never fails to change ...more
Mahoghani 23
A funny year about a teenage girl having to leave Chicago and go live with her grandmother in the Midwest during the depression. Her grandmother is a very tough old bird and the majority of the town is afraid of her.

The story is witty, the characters are something else & the story will give you a good laugh.
Jun 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 5-star, humorous
The Adventures of Grandma Dowdel, part 2, is as good or better than Peck's first in this series, "A Long Way from Chicago." As far as I'm concerned, Grandma Dowdel is one of the most memorable characters in all of kids literature! Both she and this book are hysterically funny, heart-warming, clever, inspiring. Mary Alice's character develops beautifully here, as she learns and matures and adopts some of her grandmother's most endearing traits through her year living with her. I only wish Peck ha ...more
Jan 25, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: mom-owen
Owen: this book is so good. You HAVE to read it. It tells who Mary Alice gets married to. If you don’t read it I’m just brain will break...and if you...just please read it. Please. My favorite part what was when Carleen just freaked out. Instead of Carleen Lovejoy they should call her Carleen Killjoy. Don’t put that. If she’s still living I don’t want to offend her. Read it or else.

Mom: loved it. Grandma’s back to her old tricks in the best way and Mary Alice is picking up some trick
Jun 16, 2017 rated it really liked it
I re-read this one for our Battle of the Books competition at school. I'd forgotten how much I enjoy Richard Peck's books! ...more
Jul 13, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: rtc, 5-stars
This was a hysterical book and it made me laugh so many times! I loved it so much. Just the stories he has... it's not one of those books that has a point at the end or anything like that, but it's one that, if you're old enough, you notice -- one of those books where the characters change subtly so that by the end they've gotten much more mature or changed some other way.

This was a really sweet book because you can see Joey understand his grandmother more. And that makes it sound like a dumb st
Emma Jane
Feb 05, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: my-favorites
This is exactly the kind of book I love to lose myself in. No, I take that back; this is exactly the kind of book I find myself in. In these pages I took a jaunt back to another, simpler time, where the people fascinated and inspired me, and quickly became my friends. A Year Down Yonder is a book that made me snicker, took me to tears, and gave me a deep-down sense of home. I loved it from page one to the end, and everything in between.

Richard Peck may be the only male author I know of who can
Not too much description, and not too much dialogue. An easy prose where every word counts. A lesson in history that's still a moving fictional piece. A fun read that deserves a place among classics.

The author uses simplicity and subtext in her creation of a sentimental tale about the important things in life. I loved the old-timey vocabulary and subtle dialect from the 1930s, and felt immersed in the protagonist's world, regardless of her age. The spells of dry humor are just my style.

If the pr
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Play Book Tag: A Year Down Yonder - Richard Peck - 4 stars 1 9 Dec 05, 2020 08:39AM  
a country year! 3 17 Jan 04, 2014 06:48PM  
APSU Children's L...: Reflection on Down Yonder 2 5 Apr 22, 2013 06:51AM  

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Richard Peck was 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. For his cumulative contribution to young-adult literature, he received the Margaret A. Edwards Award from the American Library Association in 1990.

Other books in the series

A Long Way from Chicago (3 books)
  • A Long Way from Chicago (A Long Way from Chicago, #1)
  • A Season of Gifts (A Long Way from Chicago, #3)

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