A Long Way from Chicago – Richard Peck

A Long Way from Chicago

by Richard Peck

Listening Library – Unabridged audio – 4 hours, 17 minutes – 2005 (print published 1998) – Genre: Historical Fiction

Review by EMS Librarian Heather Overstreet

“I don’t think Grandma’s a very good influence on us,” Mary Alice said.”

Joey and Mary Alice travel from Chicago to rural Illinois to spend a week with their larger-than-life Grandma Dowdel every summer.  Those visits are full of adventure, wonder, and not a little law-breaking. “Borrow” the sheriff’s boat to trespass on private land? Check. Sell an old stovepipe hat and quilt at the community rummage sale, implying the items once belonged to Abraham and Mary Todd Lincoln?  Check. Switch pies at the county fair to try and win the blue ribbon? Check, again! Even though Grandma Dowdel doesn’t always follow the rules, either of government or polite society, she always has her big heart in the right place.  

This book is hilarious and heart-warming. The narrator, as a now-grown Joey, effectively made me believe he was a different character with each voice.  If you are not a fan of historical fiction, this one is a great place to start, as the humor in the book is timeless. The audiobook is available on Sora, both with TCS and the Tuscaloosa Public Library. 

This the first in a series.  Book two, A Year Down Yonder, told from Mary Alice’s perspective, is available on Sora as well as an ebook and audiobook.  

Read alikes: Harris and Me, Everything on a Waffle, Maniac Magee

Newbery Medal Nominee (1999), Rhode Island Teen Book Award Nominee (2001), Dorothy Canfield Fisher Children’s Book Award Nominee (2000), National Book Award Finalist for Young People’s Literature (1998)