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This Newbery Honor Book was followed by a sequel, A Year Down Yonder, which won the Newbery gold in 2001. It takes place during the great depression, when a boy and his sister from the big city (Chicago) are sent to stay with ther large, scary, big-hearted, trigger-happy Grandma in a hick town in Piatt County, Illinois, during a succession of summers.
Joey and Mary Alice start out at about ages 9 and 7 respectively, riding the train all by themselves to spend a week each summer with Grandma Dowdel. At first they hate it. But as one summer follows another, they become co-conspirators in Grandma’s schemes. She is basically a “one-woman crime wave,” borrowing all sorts of things from her neighbors, but using them for (mostly) charitable purposes. And everyone is a little frightened of her.
This book is a “novel in the form of stories,” and good stories they are indeed, each summer having a sparkling highlight of its own. Full of humor, love, and nostalgia, and even a touch of spookiness, I think you’ll enjoy it.
Recommended Age: 10+