A Long Way from Chicago by Richard Peck (1998)

The town had emptied out because this was prize day at the fair. But when we went by The Coffee Pot Cafe, there were faces at the window, and a loafer or two paused on the sidewalk to see us pass. Grandma inclined her head slightly. Most people wouldn’t take their bows till after they’d won a blue ribbon, but Grandma wasn’t most people (p 67).

a_long_wayJoey and his sister Mary Alice spend a week each summer at their Grandma Dowdel’s Illinois house, where their larger-than-life Grandma alternately ignores and instigates the townsfolk, cleverly outwitting them all. An excellent book whose humor I enjoyed. I highly recomend it.

At our last mock Newbery meeting, someone posed the question, “Will the committee select a funny book?”  Dead End in Norvelt is hilarious and it’s on our reading list for this weekend’s meeting but when was the last time a straight-up funny book won?

Turtle in Paradise had its laugh out loud moments. The Mostly True Adventures of Homer P. Figg was a riot! Oh, and The Wednesday Wars had me in stitches. But the most recent funny book to win the Newbery Award was 2000’s A Year Down Yonder by Richard Peck (it also happened to be the year Gantos was awarded an honor for Joey Pigza Loses Control).

So does a funny book like Dead End in Norvelt (or The Adventures of Sir Gawain the True for that matter) have a chance at taking the prize? Like A Year Down Yonder, it is historical fiction and if the past awards are anything to judge by, the committee members love a good historical fiction!

Library copy | Dial Books for Young Readers | ISBN 0-8037-2290-7 | Ages 8-12 | $16.99

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