Dad had already killed a hog snake coiled in the choir loft. He and the snake met up by chance, and all Dad could think of to do was drop a box of hymnals on its head (p 12).
This is my first Gregory Peck book and his others will soon follow. I decided to read this prior to A Long Way from Chicago and A Year Down Yonder (of which this book is a companion) so I could determine if it stood on its own. It does. I enjoyed the humor and spirit of the book. Bobby’s narrative was superb. While I believe it is a great contribution to Children’s Literature, there are other very strong books competing for the Newbery and I would be surprised if this won.
Twelve-year-old Bobby and the rest of the Barnharts have just moved in next to Mrs. Dowdel, a parsimonious and clever grandmother whose generosity is revealed in subtle ways. Being the preacher’s kids makes adjusting to a new town difficult for Bobby and his two sisters, Phyllis – his older, Elvis-obsessed sister, and Ruth Ann – who has all the charm of Batty (in The Penderwicks) in her own way. There are run-ins with bullies, late night trysts, a haunted squash patch, and more than a few bullets shot. Through it all, Bobby and his sisters mature in meaningful ways.
She was weezing down the stairs behind me. The house shook. If she fell on me I was a goner (p 30).