I just knew I’d written about Richard Peck’s books somewhere, and it took me a while to find the post, on the grandmother of all my blogs — my first and still accessible “Lizzie Ross, Writer” at blogspot.com. Here’s the post:
One of my readers asked for recommendations of my favorite books. I always hate it when people recommend books and movies to me–very surly and unkind on my part, I know, but I suspect I prefer discovering things on my own. I’ve found some favorite writers through book reviews (Sebald, Kraft, Barnes) and others by browsing through relatives’ bookcases (Van Loon, Austen). This reluctance to take the verbal advice of others isn’t new — it’s been with me for decades. I remember my mother bringing home the first three Little House books from the library, when I was about 8 or 9, and I refused to so much as glance at them. She never brought me books again, and, of course, in just a couple of years I had read and enjoyed the entire series. I was the first in my family to read The Hobbit, but the last to plow through LOTR (all 4 of which I re-read nearly every year now) — because everyone was raving about them so much. I was a rebellious child.
All this said, I reluctantly agreed to make a few recommendations here. Of course, any book mentioned in this blog is one I’ve read and, usually, enjoyed. But right now I’m in the mood for humor, so any book that makes me laugh moves to the top of the list. I’ve just finished two by Richard Peck: A Long Way from Chicago, and A Year Down Yonder. Both feature the clever, sneaky, hilarious, loyal, and willing-to-break-the-law-for-a-good-cause Grandma Dowdel. She fends off Halloween pranksters, thieves, snobbish neighbors, greedy old coots, and her grandkids’ enemies with plans that take days or weeks to bring to quite satisfactory ends. You always know she has something brewing, but the complete workings are never predictable.
Newbery Fun Fact: In contrast to the all-American setting of these novels, how many winners have foreign settings? Not including the ones that center on sea voyages or are fantasies, there are 11. The foreign locations are: England, Latin America (various), China, India, Poland, Japan, Bulgaria, Hungary, Oceania, Denmark and Korea.